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Author Notes:

Correspondence: Susan J. Herdman, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine, 1441 Clifton Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30329, USA. E-mail: sherdma@emory.edu

Acknowledgments: Reviewed by: Mark F. Walker, Case Western Reserve University, USA; Douglas Lanska, VA Medical Center, USA

Edited by: Robert Daroff, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, USA; Michael Strupp, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Germany



  • spinocerebellar ataxia
  • pyschogenic imbalance
  • computerized dynamic posturography

Misclassification of Patients with Spinocerebellar Ataxia as Having Psychogenic Postural Instability Based on Computerized Dynamic Posturography


Journal Title:

Frontiers in Neurology


Volume 2, Number 21


, Pages 1-6

Type of Work:

Article | Final Publisher PDF


Specific criteria have been developed based on computerized dynamic posturography (CDP) to assist clinicians in identifying patients with psychogenic balance problems (Cyr and Cevette, 1993; Cevette et al., 1995; Goebel et al., 1997; Gianoli et al., 2000). Patients with known spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA) meet several of the criteria for psychogenic balance problem and risk being misclassified as having imbalance of psychogenic origin. However, our research shows that patients with SCA may be distinguished from patients with psychogenic balance problems in several ways. We compared test performance on CDP and the observation of specific behaviors that are associated with psychogenic balance problems in patients with SCA (n = 43) and patients with known psychogenic balance problems (n = 40). Chi-square analysis was used to determine if there were significant differences between the groups for the frequency of each criterion for psychogenic CDP and Observed Behaviors. Level of significance was Bonferroni corrected for multiple comparisons. Sensitivity, specificity, and positive likelihood ratios were calculated for each criterion. Hierarchical cluster analysis was used to examine whether the two patient groups demonstrated similar groupings of criteria. Comparison of the results of these analyses identified two criteria that were significantly more frequent in the psychogenic group than in the SCA group: regular periodicity of sway and circular sway. Sensitivity, specificity, and positive likelihood ratios identified two additional criteria, inconsistent motor responses and large lateral sway that also seem to suggest a psychogenic component to a person’s imbalance. Prospective studies are needed to validate the usefulness of these findings.

Copyright information:

© 2011 Herdman, Hall, Eggers, Sampson, Goodier and Filson. This is an open-access article subject to a non-exclusive license between the authors and Frontiers MediaSA, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and other Frontiers conditions are complied with.

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