Functional Head Impulse Testing Might Be Useful for Assessing Vestibular Compensation After Unilateral Vestibular Loss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Loss of the vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) affects visual acuity during head movements. Previous studies have shown that compensatory eye-saccades improve visual acuity and that the timing of the saccade is important. Most of the tests involved in testing VOR are made with passive head movement, that do not necessarily reflect the activities of daily living and thus not being proportionate to symptoms and distresses of the patients. Objective: To examine differences between active (self-generated) or passive (imposed by the examiner) head rotations while trying to maintain visual focus on a target. Method: Nine subjects with unilateral total vestibular loss were recruited (4 men and 5 women, mean age 47) and tested with video Head Impulse Test (vHIT) and Head Impulse Testing Device-Functional Test (HITD-FT) during passive and active movements while looking at a target. VOR gain, latencies of covert saccades, frequency of covert saccades and visual acuity were measured and analyzed. Results: Active head-impulses toward the lesioned side resulted in better visual acuity (p = 0.002) compared to conventional passive head-impulses and generated eye-saccades with significantly shorter latencies (p = 0.004). Active movements to the lesioned side generated dynamic visual acuities that were as good as when testing the intact side. Conclusion: Actively generated head impulses resulted in normal dynamic visual acuity, even when performed toward the side of total vestibular loss. This might be attributed to the appearance of short-latency covert saccades. The results show a strong relationship between self-generated movements, latencies of covert saccades and outcome in HITD-FT, i.e., a better dynamic visual function with less retinal slip which is the main function of the VOR. The method of active HITD-FT might be valuable in assessing vestibular compensation and monitoring ongoing vestibular rehabilitation.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Otorhinolaryngology


  • Dva, Vestibular loss, Vestibular rehabilitation, Vestibulo-ocular reflex, Vhit
Original languageEnglish
Article number00979
JournalFrontiers in Neurology
Issue numberNOV
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Nov 19
Publication categoryResearch