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Central Vestibular System: Normal Anatomy and Physiology

presented by Laura Morris, PT, NCS

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Satisfactory completion requirements: All disciplines must complete learning assessments to be awarded credit, no minimum score required unless otherwise specified within the course.

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This course is part of our NCS Prep-Program. Learn more about the full prep-program here: MedBridge NCS Prep-Program.

Vestibular disorders are a unique diagnostic category, often associated with pathology that affects the peripheral vestibular system. This course highlights the central portion of the vestibular system, including anatomy and normal physiology, as a basis for understanding pathology and management central vestibular disorders.

Meet Your Instructor

Laura Morris, PT, NCS

Laura Morris, PT, NCS is a physical therapist and lecturer with 25 years of experience in the management of adults with neurologic disorders. Her clinical work focuses on vestibular disorders and mild traumatic brain injury at Elmhurst Memorial Hospital in the Chicago area. She is the Director of Communications for the Academy of Neurologic PT…

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Chapters & Learning Objectives

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1. Central Vestibular System Defined

It is important to be able to delineate the central vestibular system from the peripheral vestibular system. The signs and symptoms of disorders of each system are unique and differentiation is necessary for efficient clinical management. This chapter addresses the normal anatomy of the central and peripheral vestibular systems. In addition, the primary structures that make up the central vestibular system will be reviewed, including the vestibular nuclei and their integration with the peripheral nervous system.

2. Descending Tracts

The peripheral vestibular system gives feedback to balance reflexes that help to maintain upright posture and coordinated movement. These balance reactions are coordinated via descending neural pathways to the musculature that maintains postural control. This chapter reviews the anatomy behind our postural reflexes and coordination of movement by the cerebellum.

3. Ascending Tracts

Vestibular feedback is essential for sensory organization and conscious experience. The vestibular system also gives input into the functioning of our autonomic nervous system. This chapter reviews the cortical areas that receive vestibular input and the other areas in which ascending pathways give feedback.

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