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Definition - What does Rhomberg Test mean?
What is a Rhomberg Test?
A Rhomberg Test is a test used when examining neurological function. It is used to determine the cause of one's absence of certain voluntary muscle movements and motor coordinations, or ataxia. It is commonly used when testing individuals for drunk driving, and helps indicate if the driver is indeed under the influence of either alcohol or drug impairment.
The exam itself is surrounded by an individual's requirement to possess at least two out of three key senses to obtain standing balance. These include:
- Proprioception - the awareness of one's body limbs and their position in space
- Vestibular function - the awareness of balance, equilibrium, and one's head position in space
- Vision - how the eyes determine and monitor changes in body position and surroundings
If someone loses their balance during a Rhomberg Test, it normally concludes that they have failed the examination.
How is a Rhomberg Test given and performed?
In a circumstance involving suspicion of driving under the influence, the test would go as follows:
- The officer would instruct the driver to stand up straight, with their feet touching each other and hands by their sides.
- The driver would then be asked to close their eyes, tilt their head back, and try to maintain balance. The officer would remain nearby in case the driver indeed loses balance and begins to fall.
- The officer would observe the driver for 30-60 seconds as they stand with their eyes closed. The amount of seconds the driver can stand in a balanced state will determine if they pass or fail the test.
What does it mean when someone fails a Rhomberg Test?
As mentioned above, for someone to pass the Rhomberg Test, they need only two of the three key senses for standing balance. Because vision is taken away when the test is performed, the driver must be able to possess the latter two senses, proprioception and vestibular function, to pass the examination. In most cases, drivers who are not under the influence are able to keep their balance during a test like this without a problem.
However, If the driver sways or falls during the 30-60 second examination, that normally determines they have failed the Rhomberg Test.
Officers can hypothetically conclude if the driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs from an examination like this. However, the test is not recognized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. If the results of this test were presented in court, it would hold less weight as compared to other standardized tests that can be performed in a suspected DUI case.