Vestibular disturbances are underdiagnosed in children. However, balance impairment may compromise the normal development of affected children. The appropriate therapeutic approach has not been agreed on for this age group. Vestibular rehabilitation therapy has excellent results in adults, but very few data exist regarding its results in children. We evaluated through clinical assessment and computerized dynamic posturography the outcome of children with peripheral vestibular disturbances undergoing vestibular rehabilitation therapy and observed the influence of learning and of central nervous system maturation on posturography retest results.
Sixteen children (10 boys and 6 girls) with peripheral vestibular disorders (mean age, 8 yr 7 mo) constituted the cohort and were consecutively treated with vestibular rehabilitation therapy. Symptomatic children underwent pre- and posttreatment computerized dynamic posturography. Their outcome was clinically assessed. Another 16 asymptomatic children, paired by sex and age, underwent two computerized dynamic posturography procedures with the same time interval as that of the symptomatic group.
All children completed the treatment. Total recovery of symptoms occurred in nine (56.3%) patients, whereas a dramatic partial recovery was observed in the remaining seven (43.7%) children. Posturography Conditions 5 and 6, the vestibular ratio of the sensory analysis, and the composite equilibrium score had a significant quantitative improvement after vestibular rehabilitation therapy. No adverse reactions occurred to the exercises. No statistically significant posturography changes were observed in the asymptomatic children.
Vestibular rehabilitation therapy seems to be a safe and efficacious therapeutic option in children with peripheral vestibular disturbances.