Children Get Dizzy Too!

It is estimated that more than 1 in 20 (3.3 million) children between the ages of 3 and 17 have a dizziness or balance problem (Li et al. Journal of Pediatrics). 

Children with dizziness and/or balance problems may display poor coordination, delayed motor development, and may fall or come close to falling on a regular basis.  These kids often report dizziness, lightheadedness, motion sensitivity or sickness, and difficulty concentrating.  They may also experience blurred or jumpy vision, noises in their ears, difficulty paying attention in class, difficulty reading, and may withdraw from busy social situations.  Kids with inner ear balance disorders also have difficulty with movement.  They may need to move or spin constantly, or they may fear movement or become nauseated when they or their surroundings are moving, like when riding in a car, watching movies, or playing video games.

There are many potential causes of dizziness and balance problems in kids including chronic ear infections, head or neck injuries, concussions, problems with the nerves supplying the inner ear, headaches or migraines, malformation of the ear, sensorineural hearing loss, cochlear implantation, vision problems, neurologic problems, developmental motor coordination disorder, and genetic causes.

The majority of kids with dizziness or balance problems never receive a diagnosis or any treatment, especially if their symptoms are mild or moderate.  Even kids with mild symptoms may have difficulty performing in school, playing sports, or tolerating typical social environments and would more than likely benefit from rehabilitation to improve their quality of life.

Vestibular rehabilitation for children at Mainstay PT involves a thorough assessment of your child’s static and dynamic visual acuity, ocular alignment, head-eye coordination, and the eyes’ ability to work together for functional vision.  Vestibular, or inner ear balance, function is also thoroughly assessed to determine the cause of the child’s symptoms.  This is accomplished through monitoring for normal and abnormal eye movements during specific head and body movements using video infrared goggles.  Without these goggles, abnormal eye movements can be very difficult to detect and your child may be misdiagnosed.  Lastly, static and dynamic balance is assessed to determine how the inner ear may be affecting postural control.

Once assessments have been completed and a diagnosis is made, treatments will be implemented to help resolve the effects of the child's inner ear balance problems.  Treatments at Mainstay PT include exercises to help stabilize the child’s gaze, help their eyes work together better, improve their head-eye coordination, improve their tolerance to motion and busy surroundings, and improve the way their brains use their senses in balance.

Vestibular rehabilitation is an effective, evidence based, and often fun type of therapy that can significantly improve your child’s quality of life.  Contact me at 970-818-0235 or at Jessica@mainstaypt.com for more information or to schedule an evaluation for your child.