Emma Woo’s MSc Thesis Proposal

Title: “Vestibular perception in patients with Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis”

Supervisor: Jean-Sébastien Blouin, PhD, DC (Kinesiology)
Committee Members: Gunter P. Siegmund, PhD, PEng, Christopher Reilly, MD, FRCSC (Orthopedics)

Abstract: Scoliosis is the most common form of spinal deformity in humans. One classification of scoliosis, idiopathic scoliosis, does not have a well-defined cause. Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) is the most common type of idiopathic scoliosis, differing by its time of onset from 10 years old to skeletal maturity. Growing evidence in animal models indicates that dysfunctions in peripheral vestibular system anatomy or functionality (via unilateral vestibular removal) developed spinal deformities similar to scoliosis.

At this point in the literature, researchers propose a multifactorial cause of idiopathic scoliosis, including vestibular dysfunction. Further understanding of vestibular function, an asymmetric function in particular, still needs to be addressed in humans. Electrical vestibular stimulation (EVS) is one tool that can help study the vestibular system unilaterally by determining the vestibular perception threshold of each vestibular system.

The aim of my research thesis is to quantify the vestibular perception detection thresholds of angular rotation signals in participants with and without AIS. Using unilateral stimulation, I propose to investigate vestibular asymmetries in AIS participants and healthy controls. My proposed research will quantify vestibular perception, both by natural stimulation using a rotary chair, and artificial stimulation using EVS.