A large proportion of patients with vestibular disorders report that their symptoms of imbalance, dizziness and motion sickness are exacerbated by visual environments containing moving visual stimuli such as shopping malls or supermarkets (visual sensitivity). These symptoms, induced by visual stimuli, often prevent patients from returning to work of performing activities of daily living. The long term goal of this project is to develop an effective rehabilitation approach for vestibular patients with visual sensitivity to improve balance and reduce dizziness and motion sickness in provoking visual environments.
The specific aims of this project are: 1. To quantify differences in body sway, dizziness and symptoms of motion sickness between normal healthy subjects and in patients with vestibular pathology and complaints of visual sensitivity (VS). Twenty healthy subjects and twenty vestibular patients with VS will be asked to stand on a platform while viewing a pattern of dots moving in the roll or pitch plane. Body sway and symptoms of dizziness and motion sickness will be quantified and compared across subject groups. 2.To test the effectiveness of an experimental rehabilitation approach designed to reduce visually induced imbalance, dizziness and motion sickness in vestibular patients with VS. Ten patients will undergo a series of incremental exposures to moving visual stimuli in the roll and pitch planes for five sequential days. Body sway, dizziness and motion sickness will be quantified before treatment, immediately after treatment, 14 days after treatment and 21 days after treatment. These results will be compared to those of ten matched untreated control patients in order to determine the short-term and long-term effectiveness of this rehabilitation approach. These studies will provide important information about the contribution of vestibular and visual information to balance and spatial orientation in patients with vestibular pathology and may lead to the development of new, effective rehabilitative approaches for reducing VS in vestibular patients.