Skip to main content


What it measures:

The passive Head-Shaking Nystagmus test (pHSN) assesses for latent spontaneous vestibular nystagmus through rapid, passive, head shaking around a vertical axis for the detection of vestibulopathies in dizzy patients. An active head-shaking nystagmus test in which the patient induces the movement is also occasionally used to elicit nystagmus and evaluate for vestibulopathies. (4) This review is for the passive Head-Shaking Nystagmus test only.

Target Population:

This summary contains information on use of the passive Head-Shaking Nystagmus test in patients with dizziness for the detection of vestibulopathy.  

This test is not recommended for detection of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo or other vestibular disorders, and has been identified to have limited use for peripheral and central vestibular diagnoses by the American Physical Therapy Association, Academy of Neurologic Physical Therapy, Vestibular Taskforce (VEDGE). More information is available here.

You Might Also Like...


Vestibular Rehabilitation for Peripheral Vestibular Hypofunction: An Updated Clinical Practice Guideline From the Academy of Neurologic Physical Therapy of the American Physical Therapy Association (CPG+)

Apr 1, 2022

Updated guidelines on how to optimize rehabilitation outcomes for persons with peripheral vestibular hypofunction undergoing vestibular rehabilitation.


Clinical Practice Guideline: Meniere’s Disease

Apr 8, 2020

This clinical practice guideline includes a statement that defines the role of vestibular rehabilitation and physical therapy in the management of patients

Clinical Summary

Unilateral Vestibular Hypofunction (UVH)

Jun 27, 2017

This clinical summary provides the clinician with information to care for individuals with UVH across the Patient-Client Management model.