The primary objective of this research is to increase our understanding of the combined effects of aging and vestibular disease on postural control in an effort to reduce the risk of falling in older adults. Patients with vestibular dysfunction commonly report a feeling of imbalance in situations with complex and rapidly changing visual stimuli such as in supermarkets. It is possible that reduced sensory function in older adults, or a slowing in central processing, may render the central integration of such information more difficult, resulting in greater imbalance.
The proposed research will examine the postural sway response of older and younger adults, with and without vestibular disorders, as they view a moving visual scene. Understanding how older subjects with vestibular disorders integrate sensory information during these conditions will enhance our ability to develop balance rehabilitation programs in an effort to reduce the risk of falls in older adults.