Postural compensation for vestibular loss and implications for rehabilitation

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


Purpose: This chapter summarizes the role of the vestibular system in postural control so that specific and effective rehabilitation can be designed that facilitates compensation for loss of vestibular function. Methods: Patients with bilateral or unilateral loss of peripheral vestibular function are exposed to surface perturbations to quantify automatic postural responses. Studies also evaluated the effects of audio- and vibrotactile-biofeedback to improve stability in stance and gait. Results: The most important role of vestibular information for postural control is to control orientation of the head and trunk in space with respect to gravitoinertial forces, particularly when balancing on unstable surfaces. Vestibular sensory references are particularly important for postural control at high frequencies and velocities of self-motion, to reduce trunk drift and variability, to provide an external reference frame for the trunk and head in space; and to uncouple coordination of the trunk from the legs and the head-in-space from the body CoM. Conclusions: The goal of balance rehabilitation for patients with vestibular loss is to help patients 1) use remaining vestibular function, 2) depend upon surface somatosensory information as their primary postural sensory system, 3) learn to use stable visual references, and 4) identify efficient and effective postural movement strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)57-68
Number of pages12
JournalRestorative Neurology and Neuroscience
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2010


  • Balance
  • Compensation
  • Posture
  • Rehabilitation
  • Vestibular loss

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neurology


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