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Brain Injury and Vestibulo Ocular Reflex

I’m David Holub, an attorney focusing on personal injury law in northwest Indiana.

Welcome to Personal Injury Primer, where we break down the law into simple terms, provide legal tips, and discuss personal injury law topics.

In earlier podcasts, podcast numbers 127 -129, we discussed the new advances in detecting brain injuries suffered in motor vehicle crashes.

This episode discusses how physicians monitor a patient’s vestibulo ocular reflex to understand how a patient’s brain functions. The vestibulo ocular reflex is a reflex eye movement that stabilizes images on the retina during head movement.

When the vestibulo ocular reflex is malfunctioning following a head injury, a person may experience dizziness, feel unsteady when they walk, or experience nausea.  In cases of severe vestibulo ocular reflex dysfunction, the individual may experience objects jumping when the head moves. Some describe the sensation as feeling like the room is moving during head movements.

When the vestibulo-ocular reflex functions normally, it coordinates eye movement with head movement to provide clear vision during motion and maintain balance. It is much like the camera motion control systems you can buy for several thousands of dollars to take out the jerky movements you get with handheld cameras.

Normal vestibulo ocular reflex function is necessary for activities of daily living like walking and riding in a car. It is essential in higher-demand activities like an athletic competition or even driving.

Dizziness is one of the most common symptoms following traumatic brain injury (TBI). It is considered a risk factor for a prolonged recovery.

The vestibulo ocular reflex function occurs within the inner ear. It serves to elicit compensatory eye movements to maintain image stability during rapid head motion. Gaze stability or the lack of gaze stability plays a vital role in determining the nature and extent of a brain injury.

A person with vestibular deficits will easily get fatigued from the brain having to sort out vision and balance information, a task it normally performs effortlessly.

The brain automatically performs vestibular and oculomotor functions in people with fully functional brains. But, if a person has a mild traumatic brain injury, the brain has to expend more energy to maintain equilibrium and filter out sensory information, such as light and noise.

I hope you found this information helpful. If you are a victim of someone’s carelessness, substandard medical care, a product defect, work injury, or another personal injury, please call (219) 736-9700 with your questions. You can also learn more about us by visiting our website at DavidHolubLaw.com – while there, make sure you request a copy of our book “Fighting for Truth.”