While vision and proprioception all contribute to balance, the vestibular system plays a primary role in balance with its unique inertia-sensing capability in the gravitational environment of the earth. This allows the brain to “watch” head movement so that motor control can be made accordingly.
EquiCue provides an alternative way for the brain to watch the head movement when the vestibular input is missing or distorted. The device is strategically located to faithfully detect head movement with its internal inertial sensing, and applies alternative sensory feedback of head motion onto the palatal surface in the form of small electric pulses. The location and frequency of the pulses change in accordance with direction and range of the head movement respectively. Initial studies show that a patient can maintain balance by simply keeping the feedback signal stable, and it can be naturally integrated into the balance mechanism of the body.
In essence, the device provides a stable gravitational reference for the brain to determine body balance, which helps to realign other senses as well for better sense of balance. In addition, the device helps to resolve ambiguity in the visual field by improving perception of self-motion of the head.
Video Demonstration (click the lower-left arrow to continue)