Vestibular Rehabilitation Is Associated With Visuovestibular Improvement in Pediatric Concussion

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Abstract

Background and Purpose:

Vision and vestibular-related deficits are common after concussion and are associated with prolonged recovery times, substantially impacting the quality of life for children. The utility of targeted vestibular rehabilitation for these deficits in children after concussion is unknown. The purpose of this study was to determine whether active vestibular rehabilitation is associated with an improvement in visuovestibular signs and symptoms in children with concussion.

Methods:

A retrospective cohort study of children diagnosed with concussion and referred to vestibular rehabilitation between 2012 and 2014 was conducted. Patient-reported symptoms and visuovestibular performance measures were assessed in the medical practice and physical therapy settings.

Results:

One hundred nine children were included in the study with a mean age of 11.8 (3.4) years. Among this group, 59 (54%) were male and 48 (44%) had a sports-related concussion. Children presented to a pediatric sports medicine office and physical therapy a median of 24 (interquartile range [IQR], 14-42) and 55 (IQR, 39-94) days after injury, respectively. Concussion symptoms decreased from a median of 9 (IQR, 5-13) symptoms at initial evaluation to a median of 0 (IQR, 0-2) symptoms at final assessment. Performance on all visuovestibular tasks improved significantly over the course of therapy except for near point of convergence. For the 45 children who completed the Balance Error Scoring System at both initial and final therapy visits, there was a significant improvement in mean level of performance (P < 0.0001). Characteristics between those who completed a full versus partial course of physical therapy were similar.

Discussion and Conclusions:

Vestibular rehabilitation in children with concussion is associated with improvement in symptoms as well as visuovestibular performance. This active intervention may benefit children with persistent symptoms after concussion. Future prospective studies are needed to determine the efficacy and optimal postinjury timing of vestibular rehabilitation.

Discussion and Conclusions:

Video Abstract available for more insights from the authors (see Supplemental Digital Content 1, available at: http://links.lww.com/JNPT/A208).

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