To investigate the influence of the amount of cervical movement on the cervico-ocular reflex (COR) and vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) in healthy individuals. Eye stabilization reflexes, especially the COR, are changed in neck pain patients. In healthy humans, the strength of the VOR and the COR are inversely related. In a cross-over trial the amplitude of the COR and VOR (measured with a rotational chair with eye tracking device) and the active cervical range of motion (CROM) was measured in 20 healthy participants (mean age 24.7). The parameters were tested before and after two different interventions (hyperkinesia: 20 min of extensive active neck movement; and hypokinesia: 60 min of wearing a stiff neck collar). In an additional replication experiment the effect of prolonged (120 min) hypokinesia on the eye reflexes were tested in 11 individuals. The COR did not change after 60 min of hypokinesia, but did increase after prolonged hypokinesia (median change 0.220; IQR 0.168, p = 0.017). The VOR increased after 60 min of hypokinesia (median change 0.155, IQR 0.26, p = 0.003), but this increase was gone after 120 min of hypokinesia. Both reflexes were unaffected by cervical hyperkinesia. Diminished neck movements influences both the COR and VOR, although on a different time scale. However, increased neck movements do not affect the reflexes. These findings suggest that diminished neck movements could cause the increased COR in patients with neck complaints.

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Experimental Brain Research
Department of Neuroscience

Castelijns Ischebeck, B., de Vries, J., van Wingerden, J.-P., Kleinrensink, G. J., Frens, M., & van der Geest, J. (2018). The influence of cervical movement on eye stabilization reflexes. Experimental Brain Research, 236(1), 297–304. doi:10.1007/s00221-017-5127-9