Vestibular asymmetry increases double support time variability in a counter-balanced study on elderly fallers

Vestibular asymmetry increases double support time variability in a counter-balanced study on elderly fallers

Abstract

Vestibular asymmetry is a common cause of dizziness in the elderly, for whom it precipitates the risk of falling. Previous studies have shown that those with vestibular asymmetry displayed an altered variability in double support time (DST) compared to controls. However, swing time (SwT) variability findings are conflicting. In this study, we investigated if vestibular asymmetry might be causally connected to increased DST variability. We studied a group of eight elderly fallers with wrist fractures across three months, during which time four of them regained vestibular symmetry while four others developed an asymmetry. We evaluated the variability of DST and SwT, both when the participants suffered from vestibular asymmetry and when they did not. On average, variability in DST was significantly greater by 2.38 %CV (coefficient of variation) when participants scored positive for vestibular asymmetry compared to when not, t(5) = 4.39, p = 0.01, ξ = 1.67. In contrast, SwT variability differed non-significantly by 0.44 %CV when participants had tested positive versus negative for vestibular asymmetry, t(5) = −0.87, p = 0.39, ξ = −0.29. As a possible rationale for our results, we propose that increased DST variability may be the result of a re-stabilization strategy. Further research on DST variability and its correlation to the duration of vestibular asymmetry is recommended.

Publication
Gait & Posture, 45, 31–34
Date
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