Ascending vestibular drive is asymmetrically distributed to the inferior oblique motoneuron pools in a subset of hemispheric stroke survivors

Derek M. Miller*, James F. Baker, W. Zev Rymer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: Aberrant vestibular nuclear function is proposed to be a principle driver of limb muscle spasticity after stroke. Although spasticity does not manifest in ocular muscles, we sought to determine whether altered cortical modulation of ascending vestibuloocular pathways post-stroke could impact the excitability of ocular motoneurons. Methods: Nineteen chronic stroke survivors, aged 49-68 yrs. were enrolled. Vestibular evoked myogenic potentials (VEMPs) were recorded from the inferior oblique muscles of the eye using surface EMG electrodes. We assessed the impact of ascending otolith pathways on eye muscle activity and evaluated the relationship between otolith-ocular function and the severity of spasticity. Results: VEMP responses were recorded bilaterally in 14/19 subjects. Response magnitude on the affected side was significantly larger than on the spared side. In a subset of subjects, there was a strong relationship between affected response amplitude and the severity of limb spasticity, as estimated using a standard clinical scale. Conclusions: This study suggests that alterations in ascending vestibular drive to ocular motoneurons contribute to post-stroke spasticity in a subset of spastic stroke subjects. We speculate this imbalance is a consequence of the unilateral disruption of inhibitory corticobulbar projections to the vestibular nuclei. Significance: This study potentially sheds light on the underlying mechanisms of post-stroke spasticity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2022-2030
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Neurophysiology
Volume127
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016

Keywords

  • Hemispheric stroke
  • Human
  • Motoneuron
  • Ocular vestibular evoked myogenic potentials
  • Otolith-ocular pathways
  • Post-stroke spasticity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)

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