Vestibulo-Ocular Reflex and Balance Maturation in Healthy Children Aged from Six to Twelve Years

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Objectives:Because both the vestibulo-ocular and vestibulospinal pathways depend on neurological maturation during childhood, the purpose of this study was to evaluate the vestibulo-ocular reflexes (VOR) and balance parameters of children aged from 6 to 12 years.Methods:147 healthy children were included in the study. The visual vestibulo-ocular reflex (VVOR) and VOR were recorded during sinusoidal rotation (videonystagmography), with calculation of the gain. The sensory organization on postural control was studied using computerized dynamic posturography (EquiTest®), with equilibrium scores (ES) and sensory organization tests.Results:Data were analyzed according to age groups: group a from 6 to 8 years, group b from 9 to 10 years, and group c from 11 to 12 years. Whereas VVOR gain was comparable in the three groups, VOR gain was lower in groups b and c compared to group a. Global ES increased with age. Analyzing each sensory component for postural control, the only score that increases with age is the vestibular one. Somesthetic and visual scores remained comparable in the three groups.Conclusions:Our results in a large cohort of children confirm previous ones: VOR gain is higher in young children, whereas ES is lower. Moreover, it seems that the 10- to 12-year-old children use their vestibular inputs more compared to younger ones. From these results it can be suggested that both the vestibulo-ocular and vestibulospinal pathways are still maturing between 6 and 12 years.

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