In this section
The vestibular system is the part of the body
that is responsible for balance. It is located in the inner ear.
Vestibular dysfunction can cause symptoms such as dizziness and
vertigo. These can be treated by vestibular rehabilitation.
There are three main types of vestibular problems
that children may develop following trauma to the head:
Symptoms may include balance problems,
dizziness or a spinning sensation.
This occurs when both sides of the vestibular
system are affected. Symptoms are similar to unilateral
dysfunction but may also include the illusion that objects are
moving or bouncing when the person moves their head.
This condition occurs when tiny crystals
within the inner ear become dislodged, usually due to trauma to the
head. These crystals float within the balance canals and cause a
spinning sensation whenever the person moves their head in certain
You may suspect that there is a vestibular
problem if there are symptoms of:
There are a number of specialised tests
required to diagnose a vestibular dysfunction. Your child's GP or
physiotherapist may detect that a vestibular problem is present and
will refer you to one of the specialist vestibular rehabilitation
centres for further investigation.
Unilateral and bilateral vestibular
dysfunction are treated by vestibular rehabilitation. This is
usually undertaken by a physiotherapist. It consists of an exercise
program, developed for the patient, that helps them to compensate
for the dysfunction in the vestibular system. The program may
include balance exercises, exercises to help coordinate the
reflexes that control eye movement and practice of functional
activities such as walking and bending.
Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)
can often be treated in a single session by a head-positioning
manoeuvre. This can be performed by a physician or physiotherapist
who is trained in the procedure. It takes approximately half an
hour and is not painful for the patient, although it does provoke
some dizziness. One treatment is usually all that is required.
Developed by The Royal Children's Hospital Paediatric
Rehabilitation Service. We acknowledge the input of RCH consumers and carers.
Reviewed August 2020.
Health Info is supported by The Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation. To
donate, visit www.rchfoundation.org.au.
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