The cerebellum receives input from the vestibular system, the visual system and the peripheral nervous system (proprioception) to help maintain balance and equilibrium. The Romberg consists of testing balance before and after one of the three systems is inactivated (vision). If the other two systems that help maintain Balance are functioning, the patient will be able to maintain her balance.
The Romberg test is performed by having the patient stand with her heals and toes together. The patient is then asked to close her eyes while maintaining the same stance.
The Romberg is really a test of proprioception. If the patient has significant cerebellar dysfunction, she will be unable to stand with her feet together with her eyes open. If the patient has proprioceptive dysfunction, she will be able to maintain her balance when her eyes are open (two of the three systems functioning) but when her eyes are closed, she will begin to sway and loss her balance.
A normal patient may experience subtle swaying with their eyes closed but should not lose their balance. A patient with a vestibulopathy may experience loss of balance while performing the Romberg.
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