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Romberg test

The Romberg Test is a neurological test to detect poor balance. Specifically, it detects the inability to maintain a steady standing posture with the eyes closed. The test is named after the 19th century German Ear Specialist, Moritz Heinrich Romberg (1795-1873).

The test consists of standing with your feet together and your eyes closed. The neurologist will often push you slightly to check whether you are able to compensate and regain your posture. He or she should also stand close by to catch you if you sway excessively or fall. A positive Romberg is excessive swaying or even falling over and is sometimes called Romberg's Sign. There are several variants of Romberg's Test - some involve different positions of the feet, for example, standing heel-to-toe - others use mechanical devices to quantify the dysfunction.

Some people without neurological or balance problems have some problems maintaining a steady posture.

A positive Romberg's sign indicates one or more of these problems:

By eliminating visual feedback, the Romberg Test can detect dysfunction in other pathways to and from the cerebellum.

The Romberg Test is a non-specific test of neurological or inner ear dysfunction and is not indicative of a specific condition. It is usually combined with other tests including finger-to-nose tests. Vertigo, vestibular and cerebellar ataxia and proprioceptive dysfunction are all relatively commonly seen in multiple sclerosis.

Failure to compensate in a particular direction is indicative of damage on a particular side of the central nervous system.

Romberg Test links:
Romberg Test (with video demonstration)
Balance Assessment: a modified Romberg test
Cerebellar and proprioceptive function


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