The vestibular implant: A probe in orbit around the human balance system.

Research paper by Angelica A Perez Fornos, Samuel S Cavuscens, Maurizio M Ranieri, Raymond R van de Berg, Robert R Stokroos, Herman H Kingma, Jean-Philippe JP Guyot, Nils N Guinand

Indexed on: 08 Apr '17Published on: 08 Apr '17Published in: Journal of vestibular research : equilibrium & orientation


The primary goal of the vestibular implant is to restore the vestibular function in patients with a disabling bilateral vestibular loss for whom there is currently no available treatment. The prototype developed by our team is a hybrid system consisting of a modified cochlear implant incorporating additional vestibular electrodes. Therefore, in addition of delivering sound information it is also capable of delivering motion information to the central nervous system using electrical stimulation. To date, thirteen patients have been implanted with such vestibular implant prototypes. For ethical reasons, only deaf ears were implanted and all patients experienced a clinical benefit from the hearing rehabilitation. The recent demonstration of partial restoration of the vestibulo-ocular and the vestibulo-collic reflexes in implanted patients suggests that gaze stabilization and postural control, fundamental functions of the balance system, can be artificially restored using a vestibular implant. This allows us to glimpse a useful clinical application in a near future. In parallel, we show how the vestibular implant provides a unique opportunity to explore the integration of the vestibular sensory input into the multisensory, multimodal balance system in humans, since it is able to selectively stimulate the vestibular system.

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