Chapter

Biophysics of the Vestibular System

Herman Kingma and Maurice Janssen

in Oxford Textbook of Vertigo and Imbalance

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print February 2013 | ISBN: 9780199608997
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191754227 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/med/9780199608997.003.0001

Series: Oxford Textbooks in Clinical Neurology

Biophysics of the Vestibular System

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In contrast to the self-evident impact that diseases of the eye and ear have upon vision and hearing respectively, many patients and doctors find it much more difficult to understand which complaints are exclusively associated with dysfunction of the vestibular labyrinth. The traditional view that vertigo is the major vestibular symptom of peripheral vestibular function disturbance only holds for abrupt changes of vestibular function. A relatively stable but permanent loss of function is much more frequent and –despite of central compensation- leads to several symptoms due to decrease in the sensitivity and accuracy of the labyrinthine sensors to detect head motion and head orientation: a permanent loss of automated balance, image stabilisation and spatial orientation. The aim of this chapter is to provide the reader with the basic knowledge of the physics and function of the vestibular labyrinth for a better understanding of the diversity of problems that a patient with a vestibular function loss experiences.

Chapter.  8291 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Neurology

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