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Volume 42 Number 2, March/April 2005
Pages 191 — 198

Abstract - Comparison of head- and body-velocity trajectories during locomotion among healthy and vestibulopathic subjects

James T. Cavanaugh, PT, PhD, NCS;1-2* Dov Goldvasser, MSc, ME;3 Chris A. McGibbon, PhD;4-5
David E. Krebs, DPT, PhD 3,6-8

1Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center, Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Durham, NC; 2Department of Physical and Occupational Therapy, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC; 3Biomotion
Laboratory, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Boston, MA; 4Department of Kinesiology, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada; 5Institute of Biomedical Engineering, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada; 6MGH Institute of Health Professions, Boston, MA; 7Department of Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA; 8Department of Orthopaedics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
Abstract — The optimal strategies for improving locomotor stability in people with vestibulopathy remain unclear. To help identify likely targets for intervention, we sought to determine whether vestibulopathic postural control impairment during locomotor activity was more localized to either the head or the whole body. We used high curvature analysis (HCA) to quantify the smoothness of head- and body-velocity trajectories during repeated stepping in 18 vestibulopathic and 17 healthy subjects. We employed a mixed-model repeated measures analysis of variance to compare differences in head- and body-trajectory HCA scores. Pearson coefficients were used to describe relationships between head- and body-trajectory HCA scores within each group. The results revealed that neither head- nor body-velocity trajectories were relatively more impaired in subjects with vestibulopathy. Importantly, however, the smoothness of head and body trajectories was more strongly related in subjects with vestibulopathy compared with healthy subjects, suggesting that the fundamental motor control impairment produced by vestibulopathy may be related to an abnormal coupling of head and body motion. We discuss implications for locomotor training in patients with vestibulopathy.
Key words: bilateral vestibular hypofunction, equilibrium, high curvature analysis, locomotion, locomotor control, measurement, postural control, rehabilitation, unilateral vestibular hypofunction, vestibulocollic, vestibulopathy.

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