Brain Injury and Vestibulo Ocular Reflex


Hi, I’m Indiana personal injury attorney David Holub.

Brain injuries can be challenging to prove in the courtroom.

This video clip discusses how having a physician explain a simple concept can help a jury understand how a patient’s brain functions normally and what happens after an injury.

The vestibulo ocular reflex is a reflex eye movement that stabilizes images on the retina during head movement. 

When the vestibulo ocular reflex malfunctions following a head injury, a person may experience dizziness, feel unsteady when they walk, or experience nausea. 

In cases of severe vestibulo ocular reflex dysfunction, the individual may experience objects jumping when the head moves.

Some describe the sensation as feeling like the room is moving during head movements.

The vestibulo-ocular reflex coordinates eye movement with head movement to provide clear vision during motion and maintain balance.

It is much like the camera motion control systems you can buy for several thousands of dollars to take out the jerky movements you get with handheld cameras.

Normal vestibulo ocular reflex function is necessary for activities of daily living like walking and riding in a car. It is essential in higher-demand activities like an athletic competition or even driving.

Dizziness is one of the most common symptoms following traumatic brain injury (TBI). It is considered a risk factor for a prolonged recovery.

But, at trial, the defense will argue, “anyone can say they are dizzy, but is there objective proof of an injury?”

The answer is yes. A lack of proper vestibulo ocular reflex functioning can indeed be objectively demonstrated.

The vestibulo ocular reflex function occurs within the inner ear. It serves to elicit compensatory eye movements to maintain image stability during rapid head motion. Gaze stability or the lack of gaze stability plays a vital role in determining the nature and extent of a brain injury.

A person with vestibular deficits will easily get fatigued from the brain having to sort out vision and balance information, a task it normally performs effortlessly.

If a person has a mild traumatic brain injury, the brain has to expend more energy to maintain equilibrium and filter out sensory information, such as light and noise.

Doctors can measure the failure of this reflex to function normally.

Reflexes are, of course, automatic responses of the body that cannot be controlled or faked. So a disfunction in a reflex constitutes objective proof that the brain is injured.

In the following video clip, we will discuss precisely how this objective test works and explain why it is so informative.

I hope you found this information helpful. If you are a victim of someone’s carelessness, please call (219) 736-9700 with your questions. You can also learn more about us by visiting our website at We also invite you to subscribe to our weekly podcast: Personal Injury Primer, where we break down the law into simple terms, provide legal tips, and discuss personal injury law topics.

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