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Study of free walking and dual tasking in patients with a peripheral vestibular disorder.
It is well documented that peripheral vestibular disorders (i.e. inner ear balance problems) may result in unsteadiness, particularly when walking in busy environments (i.e. crowds and supermarkets) or on uneven surfaces, and these patients have an increased falls risk (Herdman et al 2000). Patients also show changes in walking parameters compared to healthy adults. Previous studies have been conducted in highly controlled, predictable laboratory settings which are very different to walking during daily activities in a real urban environment. We are assessing a) how gait parameters are affected by dual-tasking, i.e. speaking on a telephone, in a real life environment as this is a frequent and significant patient reported concern and b) whether customised vestibular rehabilitation incorporating dual-tasking training may provide greater improvements in subjective symptoms, postural, and indoor/outdoor gait stability compared to customised exercises in isolation.
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