Author(s): Tilikete C, Rode G, Pichon J, Boisson D, Rossetti Y
Left-hemiparetic patients show predominant postural imbalance as compared to right-hemiparetic patients. The right hemisphere is crucial for generating internal maps used for perceptual and premotor processing of spatial information. Predominant postural imbalance with right-brain damage could thus result from a distortion of an internal postural map. Well-known manifestations of distorted internal maps due to right-hemisphere lesions, such as hemineglect, may show improvement following prism adaptation shifting the visual field to the right. We therefore investigated the effect of prism adaptation on postural imbalance in left-hemiparetic patients. Three groups of five patients were either adapted to prisms deviating the visual field to the right or left or exposed to neutral prisms while performing reaching movements of the right arm. Postural imbalance was reduced only following prism adaptation to the right. Thus, brief adaptation (i.e., 3 min) to rightward-shifting prisms can dramatically improve postural imbalance. This result shows that the effect of exposure to prisms that horizontally shift the visual field to the right in a reaching task generalizes to the postural system, and it suggests an interaction between horizontal and vertical reference frames. This also supports the theory that predominant postural imbalance in patients with right-brain damage may be partly related to a distortion of an internal postural map.