Following a lesion in the vestibylar system visual, proprioceptive and residual vestibular information is integrated by the brain, to enable a patient ot attain equilibrium. The basis of vestibular rehabilitation is to encourage these adaptive and compensatory mechanisms. Another form of rehabilitation is to provide some form of mechanical aid, and walking sticks are often used for this purpose in patients with balance disorders.
There are no reported studies objectively assessing the use of walking sticks in patients with balance disorders. In this study we used the Sway Weigh balance patform (Raymar) to determine the efficacy of a walking stick in 25 patients with peripheral vistibular balance disorders. Patience were tested with their eyes opened and eyes closed whilst they were standing on a flat surface and on an air-filled bed (to alter limb proprioeption) on the Sway Weigh balance platform. All the tests were carried out with, and without, a walking stick. The results demonstrate that a walking stick significantly reduces lateral body sway in patients with peripheral vestibular balance disorders.