Balance Center Testing
Common Balance Tests
Nystagmography is a series of tests that determine a person’s ability to follow visual objects with their eyes. These tests check to see how the patient’s eyes respond to some types of information from their vestibular (balance) system. Painless electrodes may be placed around the patient’s eyes (electronystagmography-ENG) or may use an infrared video camera (IR video nystagmography) to conduct these tests. Eye movement tests are useful because some patients with balance system problems have problems seeing clearly when moving, or they get the erroneous sense that objects are moving.
Ocular Motility is a test that requires the patient to follow objects that jump from place to place or move smoothly with their eyes. The patient will be monitored for any slowness or inaccuracies in their ability to follow visual targets.
Optokinetic Nystagmus is a test that requires a patient to view a large, continuously moving visual image to see if their eyes can appropriately track these movements.
Positional Nystagmus is a test where the patient’s head and body will be moved into various positions to ensure that there are no inappropriate movements of their eyes when their head is in different positions.
Caloric Test involves stimulating both of the patient’s inner ears (usually one at a time) with warm and then cold air. The movements of the patient’s eyes will be monitored to ensure that both of their ears can sense this stimulation.
Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) is a measure of outer hair cell function in the cochlea or inner ear. If these hair cells are functioning normally they will produce an echo when stimulated. During the procedure a tiny probe tip is inserted into the patient’s ear canal. The probe has two ports. One port has a speaker that emits a click heard by the patient while the other contains a microphone to listen for the echo from the outer hair cells between each click. This procedure could last from a few seconds to several minutes.
Computerized Dynamic Posturography (CDP) has been used for both diagnosis and treatment of balance disorders. To undergo CDP, the patient stands on a platform that records postural adjustments. In conjunction with computer software, patient postural adjustments are observed, recorded and measured with the patient’s eyes open and eyes shut.
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