Enhancing vestibular function in the elderly with imperceptible electrical stimulation
Serrador, Jorge M.
Deegan, Brian M.
Geraghty, Maria C.
Wood, Scott J.
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Serrador, Jorge M. Deegan, Brian M.; Geraghty, Maria C.; Wood, Scott J. (2018). Enhancing vestibular function in the elderly with imperceptible electrical stimulation. Scientific Reports 8 ,
Age-related loss of vestibular function can result in decrements in gaze stabilization and increased fall risk in the elderly. This study was designed to see if low levels of electrical stochastic noise applied transcutaneously to the vestibular system can improve a gaze stabilization reflex in young and elderly subject groups. Ocular counter-rolling (OCR) using a video-based technique was obtained in 16 subjects during low frequency passive roll tilts. Consistent with previous studies, there was a significant reduction in OCR gains in the elderly compared to the young group. Imperceptible stochastic noise significantly increased OCR in the elderly (Mean 23%, CI: 17-35%). Increases in OCR gain were greatest for those with lowest baseline gain and were negligible in those with normal gain. Since stimulation was effective at low levels undetectable to subjects, stochastic noise may provide a new treatment alternative to enhance vestibular function, specifically otolith-ocular reflexes, in the elderly or patient populations with reduced otolith-ocular function.