A vestibular disorder that causes chronic dizziness or balance problems can impact your child’s ability to learn new life skills, participate in school and educational activities, enjoy playing, socialize with friends and complete basic tasks such as getting dressed or bathing. Pediatric vestibular therapy can help your child manage symptoms and improve overall quality of life.
The Kids We Care For
- The vestibular system is the part of the inner ear and the brain that processes sensory information to help control balance and coordination of head and eye movements. This delicate system can be damaged after an injury, concussion, inactivity, disease or with age. Genetic and environmental conditions can also cause a vestibular disorder or may worsen existing symptoms.
- The most common problem with the vestibular system is benign proximal paroxysmal vertigo (BPPV) that is caused by displaced crystals in the inner ear sending incorrect signals to the brain. Other common disorders include labyrinthitis, vestibular neuritis, Ménèire’s disease, secondary endolymphatic hydrops and perilymph fistula.
- Certain positions or movements may exacerbate symptoms. Common symptoms include:
- Feeling dizzy (vertigo)
- Balance problems or falling
- Vision changes or disturbances
- Motion sickness
- Hearing changes
- Cognitive or psychological changes
- Pediatric vestibular therapy can help reduce symptoms and allow children to resume their regular activities after being diagnosed with a vestibular disorder. Our outpatient rehabilitation starts with an evaluation by a physical therapist who has specialized training and experience in vestibular therapy.
- Your child’s physical therapist will begin by talking with you and your child about their medical history, asking when symptoms first appeared, what activities make symptoms better or worse and how the condition is currently affecting daily activities. To determine a treatment plan, the physical therapist will also perform special tests to assess your child’s strength, range of motion, balance, positional movement, vision and mobility.
- Vestibular therapy treatment plans are individually designed to cure or control your child’s symptoms — vertigo (dizziness), balance problems, a risk of falling — and enable their return to normal activities and sports. Appointments with your child’s therapist can last up to an hour and may be scheduled for one to three times each week depending on your child’s evaluation.
- Exercises done at home and at our rehabilitation centers can help your child overcome a vestibular disorder. Your home exercise program may include head positional maneuvers and exercises to improve flexibility, general strengthening, conditioning, balance and gaze stabilization for better head-eye coordination. Treatment exercises may temporarily increase symptoms but this should only last for a few minutes. Your child can take a break between sets if needed to allow symptoms to subside. If your child reports new symptoms or symptoms last longer than a few minutes while doing the exercises, stop and contact your physical therapist.
- An experienced vestibular therapist helps guide your child’s treatment plan and can determine when the activity level should be adjusted. Our therapists also work closely with your child’s doctor and provide progress updates. When the time comes, our athletic trainer can help your child return to school and sports.
Getting Back to Life
- Pediatric vestibular therapy can be very effective for children because they tend to be more adaptable and less afraid of movement than adults. Successful rehabilitation, though, requires patience and dedication from both the child and parents or caregivers.
- Your child’s recovery depends on daily participation in their treatment plan and home exercises. Symptoms should improve with time and therapy can have a significant and positive impact on your child’s development, function, movement and ability to learn. With time, children should be able to resume their normal routine.