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Romberg Test

Sandeep Dhanyamraju MD
Medically reviewed by Sandeep Dhanyamraju
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Sandeep Dhanyamraju MD
Medically reviewed by Sandeep Dhanyamraju

The Romberg test is a popular method for testing brain function in neurological medicine. Thanks to it, you can identify various pathologies and diseases

  • This test is used to determine a person’s degree of static Ataxia and their general coordination abilities in space.
  • Also, tests are used to determine the degree of drug or alcohol intoxication. 
  • As a rule, several stages of verification are sufficient to determine the presence of the listed factors.

Additionally, Romberg’s test is used to detect disorders in the body, including the musculoskeletal system. With the help of this technique, it is quite possible to determine a person’s physical fitness quickly.


Ways of carrying out

  • The Romberg test refers to the position of the patient with outstretched arms in a standing position. 
  • First, a person stands with open eyes, after which they are asked to close them. Throughout the test, the specialist does not leave the patient if they start to sway and fall.
  • For a healthy adult, it is normal for a stable balance to be maintained for about 15 seconds. A child who does not play sports should stand in this position for 16 to 53 seconds, depending on age (the older, the longer).

If tremor and swaying are observed when using the Romberg method, the patient needs additional examination to prescribe treatment in the future.

Romberg Test for Disease Detection

Romberg Test as a Tool of Some Disease Detection and the Test’s Varieties

It is used for the following diagnostic purposes:

  • cerebellar dysfunctions;
  • pathologies of the inner ear;
  • central nervous system disorders;
  • in cases of spinal cord injury;
  • if there are violations of proprioception;
  • possible intracranial inflammatory processes;
  • other neurological disorders;
  • also applies to diagnose sensory Ataxia.

The test allows you to determine whether there are deviations from the nervous system, possible disturbances in the functioning of the brain, and disturbances in the functions of the vestibular apparatus.


In neurology, it is customary to classify this exercise according to the degree of difficulty. Throughout the test, the neurologist observes the patient, assesses the result, and identifies:

  • stability or instability and after what time the staggering began;
  • the side to which the person falls, losing stability;
  • coordination reflex when closing the eyes;
  • the presence or absence of limb tremor.


According to this criterion, there are three varieties of the Romberg test. The position of the hands in each of these positions remains unchanged; the pose is complicated by changing the position of the legs.

  • Test 1. The patient stands with heels together, arms extended forward, fingers slightly apart. The doctor notes the direction of the swing (left, right, forward, backward) and the time until the swing starts. If the patient does not swing, the doctor asks him to close his eyes to assess his stability without visual control over the balance. The doctor looks at whether Ataxia (staggering) increases when the eyes are closed and whether there is a tremor of the fingers, hands, legs, or trunk, tremor of the eyelids.
    During this test, the doctor must always be nearby to prevent the patient from falling if he loses his balance.
    The second and third degrees of complexity are used if it is not possible to identify any deviations in a simpler version.
  • Test 2 is complicated. The patient stands, heel to toe, arms extended forward, fingers slightly apart. The doctor notes the direction of the swing and the time in seconds before the swing. If the patient does not swing, the doctor asks them to close their eyes to determine how great the influence of vision is to maintain balance and how well other organs cope with this function.
  • Test 3 is hard. The patient stands on one leg (to reduce the fulcrum area), and the foot is pressed against the knee of the supporting limb. The patient should hold out for 30 seconds.

Analyzing and Evaluating Romberg test results

Analyzing and Evaluating Romberg Test Results

The doctor evaluates the following characteristics of the Romberg test:

  • Stability, the patient standing confidently, or staggers. If swaying appears, after what period does it happen.
  • The direction of the patient’s deviation in case of instability matters the person falls to the right, left, or back.
  • The condition, in which when you close your eyes and The Ataxia (staggering) worse
  • Presence of tremor of the fingers, hands, legs, or trunk or a tremor of the eyelids.

If staggering occurs, the test is considered positive.


For children who are not involved in sports, the norm for maintaining balance in the pose is as follows:

Age, years Duration of maintaining balance, seconds
7 16
8 21
9 24
10 28
11 30
12 36
13 44
14 48
15 50
16 51
17 52
18 53

Unsteadiness in the Romberg position or the presence of tremor may indicate any disease; therefore, if abnormalities are detected, a thorough follow-up examination is required.


Interpretation and diagnostic significance. 

  • A fall to one side usually indicates a lesion of the cerebellar hemisphere, towards which the person fell. 
  • Falling backward often indicates a mental disorder or patient simulation. General instability occurs with polyneuropathy. 
  • False proprioception may also be present.

To reduce false diagnostic moments, one should pay attention to the patient’s patella. They usually do not move during aggravation. 

  • Whereas a sick person strains the leg muscles when trying to resist, and the patella is displaced upward. 
  • Several other factors may indicate a patient’s special performance of the test in bad faith. 
  • Such changes can be objectified using the Romberg test carried out within the framework of the stabilometric study.

Romberg’s position is included in the minimal neurological examination and is a screening method for determining vestibular disorders.

The German neuropathologist Heinrich Romberg first described the diagnostic test in the middle of the 19th century and has since become firmly established in the clinical practice of neurologists, otorhinolaryngologists, and vestibulologists, and general practitioners.


Positive Romberg Test

When summing up the results of the test, the neurologist can identify the type of Ataxia:

  • The cerebellar may be associated with diseases of the cerebellum and other parts of the central nervous system.
  • Cortical Ataxia is a symptom of any problem in the cerebral cortex.
  • Vestibular may indicate that there are problems with the vestibular apparatus.
  • Sensitive Ataxia identifies the problem of muscle and joint weakness.

It is almost impossible to diagnose sensory Ataxia or a specific type of Ataxia using a single Romberg test so that other methods can be used additionally.

  • If a tremor appears when checking for a stable position in this test, this may indicate problems with the cerebellum, particularly Parkinson’s disease. 
  • If the neurologist observes eyelid trembling during the application of the Romberg position, this may indicate severe fatigue.


Sensitive Ataxia Symptoms and Diagnosis

Sensitive Ataxia occurs with different clinical presentations, which depend on the level of the lesion. Deviations occurring in ​​the posterior columns of the lower back and chest provoke Ataxia exclusively in the legs. The anomaly, localized in the neck, causes malfunctions in the upper and lower extremities, proprioception. An unilateral lesion of the proprioception zone before the transition of its elements to the other side activates the homolateral form of hemiataxia; symptomatology develops in half of the body on the side where the disorder began.

Sensitive Ataxia is a disease manifested by an impaired sensory sensation of pressure, vibrational responses, and body position in space and proprioception, causing motor failures and discoordination. The characteristic symptoms of an anomaly are:

  • a disorder of standard gait and coordination;
  • low blood pressure in skeletal muscle regions;
  • uncontrolled movements of the distal regions of the arms;
  • proprioception.

A deviation from the norm in medical institutions is detected in the presence of specific neurological data.



  • The main diagnostic methods include collecting blood cells for biochemical testing, neurophysiological examination, computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging of the brain or spinal cord, and genetic tests. 
  • The Romberg test can also be used for diagnostics.

 Treatment of sensitive Ataxia

Sensitive Ataxia Causes 

The anomaly is associated with a disruption in the pathways of deep sensory ability. The deviation originates in different regions of the proprioception system (on the back of the spinal cord, ganglia, roots, in the region of the medulla oblongata, thalamus, and cortex). 

The disorder is caused by:

  •  vascular disease (stroke);
  • tumor formation;
  • cerebral neoplasm;
  • multiple sclerosis; 
  • spinal injury;
  • in some moments, sensitive Ataxia appears as a result of a complication reaction after surgery.


Doctors observe the development of the disease in Guillain-Barré syndrome and other types of polyneuropathy (diabetic, alcoholic, infectious-toxic type, etc.). Disorder of the sensation of vibration can provoke symptoms of hereditary anomalies.

Impairment of sensory perception is associated with problems of proprioceptive types of sensitivity, to which doctors refer:

  • Musculo-articular reflex, which perceives information about the position of the body in the environment.
  • Vibration sensitivity.
  • Understanding mass and pressure.

Motor and coordination failures are formed due to the absence or lack of kinesthetic information by the central sections of the proprioceptive apparatus, which provides data on muscle contractions. Sensitive type Ataxia cannot develop on its own; it manifests itself as a symptom complex in neurological disorders. In different situations, the disease progresses depending on the topical nuances of damage to the nerve channels of a proprioceptive nature.


Clinical Recognition of Sensitive Ataxia 

A deviation from the norm is characterized by failures in the motor reflex of the patient’s own body.

  • Initially, the changes affect gait. The patient puts the lower limbs too wide, excessively bends or overextends them in the knee and hip region, and presses heavily on the ground with the heel. In the medical field of neurology, a similar condition is called a stamping gait. Patients tell their doctors about feelings during movement, such as walking on a cotton pad or sinking. The lack of proprioception of nature can be compensated for by an increased degree of visual ability. Patients often walk with their heads bent forward to see the floor in front of them. In the absence of vision control, the disease is clearly expressed in the curvature of the gait. As a result of this technique, persons diagnosed with sensitive Ataxia find it difficult to move around at night or with their eyes closed.
  • The disorder, which developed in the upper limbs, is highlighted by disruptions of involuntary activity and coordination, which cause difficulties in performing daily duties. For example, a patient cannot open a door lock on their own, button a shirt, or have a cup of tea without spilling a drop. At rest, involuntary movements of the fingers of a chaotic direction are noticed, similar to athetosis. Violent activity is caused by a disorder of the subcortical cerebral divisions. The difference is the absence of an increase in symptoms with active gesturing.


Treatment of Sensitive Ataxia

Sensitive ataxia is treated with an etiotropic or symptomatic approach. Patients are prescribed anticholinesterase drugs, vitamin complexes, ATP, massage sessions, etc.

  • The first step to getting rid of the patient from disorders is to stop the deviation from the norm. In the case of an infectious pathogen, the appointment of pharmacological components of an antibacterial type will be required. In the case of vascular failures, a vasoactive or hemostatic treatment method is prescribed. A patient with the conclusion of funicular myelosis will need to take vitamin B in a certain dosage. There is a possibility of diagnosing sensory Ataxia with a neoplasm. In this situation, the patient will be offered surgery to remove the tumor.
  • Symptomatic therapy aims to maintain stable metabolic parameters in the nervous tissue to increase the degree of resistance to the development of abnormal deformities and the recovery function.
  • The neurometabolic course of treatment includes the introduction of ATP, medications like galantamine and vitamin complexes. In addition, the doctor prescribes a visit to therapeutic exercises and massage sessions. Exercise therapy is aimed at improving the coordination of motor abilities through training. Combining exercises with massage significantly strengthens the muscle section.

The further prognosis of doctors is positive when doctors manage to timely eliminate the sources of the development of an abnormal reaction and completely restore the affected area of ​​the proprioception area. The prognosis has a negative outcome for patients with a hereditary type of disorder, tumor formation, and the formation of persistent degeneration processes. In such situations, therapeutic therapy includes inhibition of the development of the disease and effective training of the patient’s motor abilities.


Bottom Line 

The psychological state and mood of patients are no less important for recovery and treatment than modern technologies and highly qualified doctors. Lone Star Neurology is one of the leading neurology practices in the United States, TX. We provide our services in Carrollton, Fort Worth, Dallas and other cities in Texas. 

Our staff regularly improves their skills: we combine experience and innovation to achieve high results in rehabilitation, and the quality of care at our clinic has always been at its best. In addition, Lone Star Neurology also provides research and education services to patients and families affected by neurological disorders, including ataxia.


  • When are Romberg coordination tests used?

Romberg’s test is used to determine the degree of static ataxia of a person, as well as his general coordination abilities in space. Also, tests are used to determine the degree of drug or alcohol intoxication.

  • How to identify sensitive Ataxia?

A patient with Ataxia syndrome cannot walk fully, falls to the side, and staggers sideways or back. Also, the disease is characterized by wide movements: large steps and a wide range of arms when walking.

  • How long do people live with Ataxia?

Prognosis is unfavorable; the average life expectancy from the onset of disease progression is 15-20 years. Patients live up to 70-80 years in rare cases, provided there is no concomitant diabetes mellitus and heart disease.

  • What is discoordination of movements?

In neurology, impaired coordination of movements, the inability to perform precise movements. Often the reason for this is a violation of the functioning of the entire nervous system as a whole or a disease of its part.

  • What is the interpretation and diagnostic significance of Romberg’s pose?

Romberg’s Pose – standing position with closed legs, eyes, and arms extended forward. This test detects the inability to maintain balance (staggering or falling) Romberg’s symptoms. Romberg’s symptom is observed when various parts of the nervous system are affected, which are involved in the regulation of body balance, which is a manifestation of ataxia.

  • What is the name of the test when a person stands with closed legs and closed eyes, in which the ability to maintain balance is checked?

This test is called Romberg’s pose. It is performed for patients who have nervous system disorders and problems with the balance and regulation of the body.

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Edward Medina
Edward Medina
15:34 30 Jun 22
Just such an amazing staff that makes you feel like part of their family. I’ve been going there for over 5 years now... and each visit I get the very best care and treatments that I have ever received in the 20+ years that I’ve been dealing with severe debilitating migraines. Since i started seeing them the number of my migraines has dropped from 15-20 a month to 2-3 every 3 month. I highly recommend them …they will change your life!read more
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Daneisha Johnson
22:20 19 May 22
Dr. Askari was very kind and explained everything so I could understand. The other staff were nice as well. I would... have gave 5 stars but I was a little taken aback when I checked in and had to pay 600.00 upfront. I think that should have been discussed in a appointment confirmation call or email just so I could have been more
Jean Cooper
Jean Cooper
16:54 29 Apr 22
I love the office staff they are friendly and very helpful. Dr. JODIE is very caring and understanding to your needs... and wants to help you. I will go back. would recommend Dr. Dr. Jodie to other Patients in a heart beat. The team works well more
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Linda M
19:40 02 Apr 22
I was obviously stressed, needing to see a neurologist. The staff was so patient and Dr. Ansari was so kind. At one... point he told me to relax, we have time, when I was relaying my history of my condition. That helped ease my stress. I have seen 3 other neurologists and he was the only one who performed any assessment tests on my cognitive and physical skills. At one point I couldn't complete two assessments and got upset and cried. I was told, it's OK. That's why you're here. I was truly impressed, and super pleased with the whole experience!read more
Leslie Durham
Leslie Durham
15:05 01 Apr 22
I've been coming here for about 5 years. The staff are ALWAYS friendly and knowledgeable. The Doctors are the absolute... best!! Jodie Moore is always in such a great mood which is a plus when you are already stressed. Highly recommendedread more
Monica Del Bosque
Monica Del Bosque
14:13 25 Mar 22
Since my first post my thoughts have changed here. It's unfortunate. My doctor and PA were great, but the office staff... is horrible. They never call you back when they say they will, they misinform you, they cause you too much stress wondering what's going on, they don't keep you posted. They never answer the phone. At this point I've left four messages in the last week, and I have sent three messages. Twice from their portal and one direct email. No response. My appointment is on Monday morning at 8:30am, no confirmation on my insurance and what's going on. What the heck is going on, this is ridiculous!I've given up... the stress her office staff has put me through is just not worth it. You can do so much better, please clean house, either change out your office staff, or find a way for them to be more efficient please. You have to do something. This is not how you want to run your practice. It leaves a very bad impression on your more
Ron Buckholz
Ron Buckholz
23:32 23 Mar 22
I was actually pleasantly surprised with this visit! It took me a long time to get the appointment scheduled because no... one answers your phones EVER! After a month, I finally got in, and your staff was warm, friendly, and I was totally impressed! I feel like you will take care of my needs!read more
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Steve Nabavi
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It was a nice visit. Happy staff doing all they can do to comfort the patients in a very calming environment. You ask... me they are earned a big gold star on the fridge. My only complaint they didn't give me any more
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16:10 10 Feb 22
Had very positive appointments with Jodie and Dr. Sheth for my migraine care. Jodie was so fast with the injections and... has so much valuable info. I started to feel light headed during checkout and the staff was SO helpful—giving me a chair, water, and taking me into a private room until I felt better. Highly recommend this practice for migraine patients, they know what they’re doing!!read more
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I was scheduled to be checked and just want to say that the staff was fantastic. They were kind and helpful. I was... asked many questions related to what was going on and not once did I feel as though I was being brushed off. The front desk staff was especially great in assisting me. I'm scheduled to go back for a mri and am glad that I'll be going more
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I had such a good experience with Lone Star Neurology, Brent my MRI Tech was so awesome and made sure I was very... comfortable during the appointment. He gave me ear plugs, a pillow, leg support and blanket, easiest MRI ever lol 🤣 My 72 hour EEG nurse Amanda was also so awesome. She made sure I was take care of over the 3 days and took her time with the electrodes to make sure it was comfortable for me! Paige was also a huge help in answering all my questions when it came to my test results, and letting me know her honest opinions about how I should go forth with my more
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The professionalism and want to help attitude of this office was present from the moment I contacted them. The follow... up and follow through as well as their willingness to find a way to schedule my dad was above and beyond. We visited two offices in the same day with the same experience. I am appreciative of this—we spend a lot of time with doctors and this was top notch start to more
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robert Parker
16:38 16 Apr 21
I love going to this office. The staff is friendly and helpful. The doctor is great. I am getting the best... neurological tests and treatment I have ever had. The only reason I did not give them a 5 star rating is because it is impossible to reach a live person at the office to reschedule appointments. Every time I have tried to get through to the office it says all people are busy and I am sent to a voicemail. If they could get their phone answering fixed, I would give them a strong 5 more
MaryAnn Hornbaker
MaryAnn Hornbaker
00:26 25 Feb 21
Dr. Harney is an excellent Dr. I found him friendly , personable and thorough. I evidently am an unusual case. ... Therefore he spent a Hugh amount of time educating me. He even gave me literature to further explain my condition and how to follow up. This is something you rarely get from your doctors. So I am more than please with my doctor and his more
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Roger Arguello
03:05 29 Jan 21
Always courteous, professional. The staff is very friendly and always work with you to find the best appointment time.... The care team has been great. Always taking the time to listen to your concerns and to find the best more
Margaret Rowland
Margaret Rowland
01:12 27 Jan 21
I have been a patient at Lone Star Neurology for several years. Now both my adult daughters also are patients there. I... love Jodie. She is always so prompt whether it is a teleamed call are a visit in the office. She takes the time to explain everything to me and answers all my questions. I am so blessed to have Jodie as my more
Susan Miller
Susan Miller
03:01 13 Jan 21
My husband had an accident 5 years ago and Lone Star Neurology has been such a blessing to us with my husbands care.... Jodie Moore is his provider and she is amazing! Jodie is very knowledgeable, caring, and thorough. She takes her time with you, making sure your needs are met and she is happy to answer any questions you may have. Lone Star Neurology’s patients are very lucky to have Jodie providing their care. Thank you Lone Star Neurology and especially Jodie for everything you have done for us. Jodie, you are the best!read more
Windalyn C
Windalyn C
01:32 09 Jan 21
Jodie is wonderful. She is very caring and knowledgeable. I have been to over a dozen neurologists, and none were able... to help me as much as they have here. Thanks!read more
Katie Kordel
Katie Kordel
00:40 09 Jan 21
Jodi Moore, nurse practitioner, is amazing. I have suffered from frequent, debilitating headaches for almost 20 years.... She has provided the best proactive and responsive care I have ever received. My quality of life has been greatly improved by her caring approach and tenacity in finding more
Ellie Natsis
Ellie Natsis
15:41 07 Jan 21
I have had the best experience at this neurologist's office! For over a year I have been receiving iv treatments here... each month and my nurse, Bobbie is beyond wonderful!! She's so attentive, knowledgeable, caring, and detail oriented. She makes an otherwise uncomfortable experience much more pleasant and definitely puts me at ease! She also helps me with my insurance,ordering this specialty medication and dealing with the ordering process which is no easy feat.Needless to say, she goes above a beyond in every way and I'm so grateful to this office and to Bobbie for all they do for me!read more
Matt Morris
Matt Morris
15:39 07 Jan 21
Let me start by saying that I have been coming here for years. Due to my autoimmune disease, I am in this office... once every three weeks for multiple hours at a time. The office is very clean and the staff very friendly. My only complaint would be there communication via phone. They aren't the best at responding if you leave a voicemail and expect a call back. I understand that this is prob just due to the sheer number of alls they receive daily. What I can say I like the best about the office are the people. Bobby who handles my infusions is great. I never have any issues with her setting up my infusions. She is very quick to reply to messages sent via text and if she were to leave then my whole opinion of the office may change. I also enjoy people like Matt, Lauren, and Jodi. I appreciate all that they do for me and without this team I'm not sure I would be as happy as I am to visit the office as frequently as I have to. Please ensure that these folks are recognized as they are what makes my visit to this office so tolerable :).read more
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