Vestibular, Visual Acuity, and Balance Outcomes in Children With Cochlear Implants: A Preliminary Report

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Abstract

Objectives:

There is a high incidence of vestibular loss in children with cochlear implants (CCI). However, the relationship between vestibular loss and various outcomes is unknown in children. The objectives of this study are to (1) determine whether age-related changes in peripheral vestibular tests occur; (2) quantify peripheral vestibular function in children with normal hearing and CCI; and (3) determine whether amount of vestibular loss predicts visual acuity and balance performance.

Design:

Eleven CCI and 12 children with normal hearing completed the following tests of vestibular function: ocular and cervical vestibular-evoked myogenic potential to assess utricle and saccule function and the video head impulse test to assess semicircular canal function. The relationship between amount of vestibular loss and the following balance and visual acuity outcomes was assessed: dynamic gait index, single-leg stance, the sensory organization test, and tests of visual acuity, including dynamic visual acuity and the gaze stabilization test.

Results:

(1) There were no significant age-related changes in peripheral vestibular testing with the exception of the n23 cervical vestibular-evoked myogenic potential latency, which was moderately correlated with age. (2) CCI had significantly higher rates of vestibular loss for each test of canal and otolith function. (3) Amount of vestibular loss predicted performance on single-leg stance, the dynamic gait index, some conditions of the sensory organization test, and the dynamic visual acuity test. Age was also a contributing factor for predicting the performance of almost all outcomes.

Conclusions:

Preliminarily, children with vestibular loss do not recover naturally to levels of their healthy peers, particularly with activities that utilize vestibular input; they have poorer visual acuity and balance function.

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