Responses evoked by a vestibular implant providing chronic stimulation

Jenks Vestibular Physiology Laboratory, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Boston, MA, USA.
Journal of Vestibular Research (Impact Factor: 1.46). 01/2012; 22(1):11-5. DOI: 10.3233/VES-2012-0442
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Patients with bilateral vestibular loss experience dehabilitating visual, perceptual, and postural difficulties, and an implantable vestibular prosthesis that could improve these symptoms would be of great benefit to these patients. In previous work, we have shown that a one-dimensional, unilateral canal prosthesis can improve the vestibulooccular reflex (VOR) in canal-plugged squirrel monkeys. In addition to the VOR, the potential effects of a vestibular prosthesis on more complex, highly integrative behaviors, such as the perception of head orientation and posture have remained unclear. We tested a one-dimensional, unilateral prosthesis in a rhesus monkey with bilateral vestibular loss and found that chronic electrical stimulation partially restored the compensatory VOR and also that percepts of head orientation relative to gravity were improved. However, the one-dimensional prosthetic stimulation had no clear effect on postural stability during quiet stance, but sway evoked by head-turns was modestly reduced. These results suggest that not only can the implementation of a vestibular prosthesis provide partial restitution of VOR but may also improve perception and posture in the presence of bilateral vestibular hypofunction (BVH). In this review, we provide an overview of our previous and current work directed towards the eventual clinical implementation of an implantable vestibular prosthesis.

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