Visual Field Dependence Is Associated with Reduced Postural Sway, Dizziness and Falls in Older People Attending a Falls Clinic.
Sturnieks, D L
Lord, S R
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Moving visual fields can have strong destabilising effects on balance, particularly when visually perceived motion does not correspond to postural movements. This study investigated relationships between visual field dependence (VFD), as assessed using the roll vection test, and reported dizziness, falls and sway under eyes open, eyes closed and optokinetic conditions. Ninety five falls clinic attendees undertook the roll vection test (i.e. attempted to align a rod to the vertical while exposed to a rotating visual field). Sway was assessed under different visual conditions by centre of pressure movement. Participants also completed questionnaires on space and motion discomfort, fear of falling, depression and anxiety. Thirty four (35.8%) participants exhibited VFD, i.e. had an error > 6.5º in the roll vection test. Compared to participants without VFD, participants with VFD demonstrated less movement of the centre of pressure across all visual conditions, were more likely to report space and motion discomfort and to have suffered more multiple falls in the past year. VFD was independent of fear of falling, anxiety and depression. VFD in a falls clinic population is associated with reduced sway possibly due to a stiffening strategy to maintain stance, dizziness symptoms and an increased risk of falls.