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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    ABSTRACT: A multichannel vestibular prosthesis that delivers electrical stimulation to the perilymph of individual semicircular canals is a potential new treatment modality for patients with vestibular deficiencies. Most research in this field has evaluated the efficacy of this approach by its ability to reproduce eye movements in response to head rotations. Our group has developed such a device and implanted it in four human subjects with intractable unilateral Meniere's disease. This allows us to evaluate individual semicircular canal contribution to the control of balance and posture in human subjects. In this report, we demonstrate that electrical stimulation trains delivered to the perilymph of individual semicircular canals elicit postural responses specific to the particular canal stimulated, with some current spread to adjacent end organs. Modulation of stimulation current modulates the amplitude of the postural response. However, eye movements elicited by the same electrical stimuli were not consistent with postural responses in magnitude or direction in all subjects. Taken together, these findings support the feasibility of a vestibular prosthesis for the control of balance and illustrate new challenges for the development of this technology.
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    ABSTRACT: IMPORTANCE Bilateral vestibular deficiency (BVD) causes chronic imbalance and unsteady vision and greatly increases the risk of falls; however, its effects on quality of life and economic impact are not well defined. OBJECTIVE To quantify disease-specific and health-related quality of life, health care utilization, and economic impact on individuals with BVD in comparison with those with unilateral vestibular deficiency (UVD). DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS Cross-sectional survey study of patients with BVD or UVD and healthy controls at an academic medical center. Vestibular dysfunction was diagnosed by means of caloric nystagmography. INTERVENTIONS Survey questionnaire. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES Health status was measured using the Dizziness Handicap Index (DHI) and Health Utility Index Mark 3 (HUI3). Economic burden was estimated using participant responses to questions on disease-specific health care utilization and lost productivity. RESULTS Fifteen patients with BVD, 22 with UVD, and 23 healthy controls participated. In comparison with patients with UVD and controls, patients with BVD had significantly worse DHI (P < .001) and HUI3 scores. Statistically significant between-group differences were observed for overall HUI3 score (P < .001) and for specific attributes including vision, hearing, ambulation, emotion, and pain (P < .001 for all). Generalized linear model analysis of clinical variables associated with HUI3 scores after adjustment for other variables (including sex, race, education, age, and frequency of dizziness-related outpatient clinic visits) showed that the presence of UVD (P < .001) or BVD (P < .001), increased dizziness-related emergency room visits (P = .002), and increased dizziness-related missed work days (P < .001) were independently associated with worse HUI3 scores. Patients with BVD and UVD incurred estimated mean (range) annual economic burdens of $13 019 ($0-$48 830) and $3531 ($0-$48 442) per patient, respectively. CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE Bilateral vestibular deficiency significantly decreases quality of life and imposes substantial economic burdens on individuals and society. These results underscore the limits of adaptation and compensation in BVD. Furthermore, they quantify the potential benefits of prosthetic restoration of vestibular function both to these individuals and to society.
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