Paving the Way Toward Distinguishing Fallers From Non-fallers in Bilateral Vestibulopathy: A Wide Pilot Observation

N. Herssens*, B. Dobbels, J. Moyaert, R. Van de Berg, W. Saeys, A. Hallemans, L. Vereeck, V. Van Rompaey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Web of Science)


Patients with bilateral vestibulopathy (BVP) present with unsteadiness during standing and walking, limiting their activities of daily life and, more importantly, resulting in an increased risk of falling. In BVP patients, falls are considered as one of the major complications, with patients having a 31-fold increased risk of falling compared to healthy subjects. Thus, highlighting objective measures that can easily and accurately assess the risk of falling in BVP patients is an important step in reducing the incidence of falls and the accompanying burdens. Therefore, this study investigated the interrelations between demographic characteristics, vestibular function, questionnaires on self-perceived handicap and balance confidence, clinical balance measures, gait variables, and fall status in 27 BVP patients. Based on the history of falls in the preceding 12 months, the patients were subdivided in a "faller" or "non-faller" group. Results on the different outcome measures were compared between the "faller" and "non-faller" subgroups using Pearson's chi-square test in the case of categorical data; for continuous data, Mann-Whitney U test was used. Performances on the clinical balance measures were comparable between fallers and non-fallers, indicating that, independent from fall status, the BVP patients present with an increased risk of falling. However, fallers tended to report a worse self-perceived handicap and confidence during performing activities of daily life. Spatiotemporal parameters of gait did not differ between fallers and non-fallers during walking at slow, preferred, or fast walking speed. These results may thus imply that, when aiming to distinguish fallers from non-fallers, the BVP patients' beliefs concerning their capabilities may be more important than the moderately or severely affected physical performance within a clinical setting. Outcome measures addressing the self-efficacy and fear of falling in BVP patients should therefore be incorporated in future research to investigate whether these are indeed able to distinguish fallers form non-fallers. Additionally, information regarding physical activity could provide valuable insights on the contextual information influencing behavior and falls in BVP.
Original languageEnglish
Article number611648
Number of pages22
JournalFrontiers in Neurology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2021


  • bilateral vestibulopathy
  • falls
  • balance
  • gait
  • self-perceived disability
  • vestibular function

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