Vestibular Rehabilitation for Children

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This article focuses on vestibular rehabilitation (VR) for children. Reports of the presence of vestibular dysfunction in infants, young children, and adolescents have increased over the past decade. In addition to being a comorbidity of sensorineural hearing loss, vestibular dysfunction has been noted in children with cytomegalovirus, late prematurity, and concussion, to name a few. Despite ample evidence and reports of VR for adults, the selection and provision of exercises to be included in the VR protocol for children vary, depending on the nature of the lesion, impairments identified, age at the time of lesion, and developmental factors such as critical periods of development and intermodality interdependence. Unlike adults, children with loss of function or hypofunction of the vestibular apparatus since or shortly after birth present with a developmental delay that is progressive. Very young children may not be able to describe symptoms but rather only avoid activities or cry. This report provides a review of vestibular-related impairments in children, determinants of the symptoms and functional impairments of vestibular dysfunction, the mechanisms of recovery in children, the challenges of VR for children, and a summary of research on the efficacy for VR for children.

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