The contribution of hearing to normal balance

RG Kanegaonkar, K Amin, M Clarke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Normal balance relies on three sensory inputs: vision, proprioception and the peripheral vestibular system. This study assessed hearing change and postural control in normal subjects.

Materials and methods:
Postural control in 20 normal volunteers was assessed using a Nintendo Wii gaming console and balance board. Each subject was tested standing upright for 30 seconds in a clinic room and a soundproof room with their eyes open, eyes closed, whilst standing on and off foam, and with and without ear defenders.

There was significantly more postural sway in the following subjects: those standing with their eyes closed vs those with eyes open (normal room, p = 0.0002; soundproof room, p = 0.0164); those standing on foam with eyes open vs those standing normally with eyes open (in both rooms; p < 0.05); those standing with eyes open in a soundproof room vs a normal room (p = 0.0164); and those standing on foam in a soundproof room with eyes open and wearing ear defenders vs those in the same circumstances but without ear defenders.

Our results suggest that this method provides a simple, inexpensive tool for assessing static postural control. Whilst it is recognised that visual input and proprioception play a central role in maintaining posture, our findings suggest that ambient sound and hearing may also have a significant influence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)984 - 988
Number of pages5
JournalThe Journal of laryngology and otology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2012


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