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Sensory information and the perception of verticality in post-stroke patients. Another point of view in sensory reweighting strategies

by Wim Saeys, Nolan Herssens, Stijn Verwulgen, Steven Truijen


Perception of verticality is highly related to balance control in human. Head-on-body tilt <60° results in the E-effect, meaning that a tilt of the perceived vertical is observed contralateral to the head tilt in the frontal plane. Furthermore, somatosensory loss also impacts the accuracy of verticality perception. However, when several input sources are absent or biased, less options for sensory weighting and balance control occur. Therefore, this study aims to identify the E-effect and assess the effect of somatosensory loss on the extent of the E-effect.


All patients with a first stroke admitted to a Belgian rehabilitation hospital were eligible for inclusion. Patients aged above 80 with other neurological and orthopaedic impairments as well as brainstem, cerebellar or multiple lesions were excluded. In addition, patients with visuospatial neglect and pusher behaviour were also excluded as this can affect verticality perception. The Rivermead Assessment of Somatosensory Performance (RASP), the Subjective Visual (SVV) and Subjective Postural (SPV) Vertical Test were administered.


In total, 37 patients were included in the analysis of which 24 patients completed both SVV and SPV assessment. Results show that the E-effect occurred in our sample of stroke survivors for both SVV and SPV. In addition, the presence of somatosensory loss will increase the E-effect in both SVV as SPV assessment. A significant difference in verticality perception was noted for both SVV and SPV between the group with no (SVV: 5.13°(6.92); SPV: 0.30°(1.85)) and highly severe (SVV: 10.54°(13.19); SPV: 5.96°(9.27)) sensory loss.


The E-effect occurs in stroke subjects and increases when patients experience somatosensory loss. This suggests that the lack of available afferent information impede estimation of verticality. Therefore, stroke survivors have fewer alternative input sources as a result of impairments, leading to fewer options about sensory reweighting strategies and balance recovery after perturbations.

Authors:   Wim Saeys; Nolan Herssens; Stijn Verwulgen; Steven Truijen
Journal:   PLoS ONE
Volume:   13
edition:   6
Year:   2018
Pages:   e0199098
DOI:   10.1371/journal.pone.0199098
Publication date:   29-Jun-2018
Facts, background information, dossiers
  • stroke
  • Total
  • brainstem
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