The purpose of rotational chair testing is to determine if the vestibular (inner ear) or the neurological system is the cause of a balance disorder. When someone is turning their head, the vestibular system sends continuous signals to the brain updating it on the heads position. This causes additional signals to be sent to the muscles of the eyes via the vestibular ocular reflex (VOR). For every head movement in one direction, there is eye movement in the opposite direction. This phenomena is the basis for the rotational chair testing.
Rotational chair testing can be very helpful in detecting bilateral loss (no function in both ears) of vestibular function or if there are cerebellar ocular motor abnormalities. In recent studies, many people with neurological problems or vestibular ocular reflex (VOR) have been diagnosed with the use of the rotary chair very successfully.
Rotational chair testing is usually ordered in addition to ENG/VNG (caloric) testing to confirm a specific diagnosis and increase accuracy. This allows a physician to see precisely what head movement speeds are effected by the inner ear disturbance if a one is noted during the ENG/VNG testing exam. This cannot be achieved with any other testing procedure, and ensures the physician and accurate diagnosis specific to the problem within the vestibular system.