Top treatments for children with Balance Problems
There are many effective options to assist children with Balance Problems. The treatment for Balance problems in a child is specific for the child. A team of specialists consisting of a pediatrician, ENT specialist, and an audiologist evaluate the child and plan the management customized to the child’s needs. Balance problems in children need to be identified and treated early as balance is essential for the normal growth and development of the child. A child with balance issues may not achieve normal developmental milestones at an appropriate age.
4 Key Balance Problem Options for Children
Treatment options for balance problems in children include
- Exercises and home care
- Surgical Intervention
Exercises and home care:
** Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy:
Vestibular rehabilitation therapy (VRT) is a form of physical therapy involving exercises. This approach to therapy improves the functional deficits in the child and subjective symptoms associated with balance disorders. The aims of Vestibular rehabilitation therapy are to decrease sensations of dizziness in the child, improve balance and minimize falls, improve neuromuscular coordination, improve stability during movements and decrease dependency on visual and somatosensory inputs.
- Gaze Stabilization
- Balance Training.
Habituation exercises consist of a series of eye, head, and body movements that provoke vestibular symptoms. These repeated movements fatigue the vestibular response and make the child’s brain compensate by habituation to the stimulus. Repetitive habituation exercise is helpful in children with increased dizziness when they move around. Children who experience dizziness when they make quick head movements or when they change the position of the head like when they bend over greatly benefit from habituation exercises. Dizziness resulting from visually stimulating environments like watching TV, playing video games, walking over patterned surfaces or shiny floors also responds well to Habituation exercise.
Habituation exercise teaches the brain to ignore the abnormal signals it is receiving from the inner ear due to vestibular disorders. The intensity of the kid’s dizziness will decrease over time as the brain learns to ignore the abnormal signals it is receiving from the inner ear.
2. Gaze Stabilization :
Gaze Stabilization exercises are used for children with problems in seeing clearly. It improves the control of eye movements. These children describe their visual world as jumping around when reading or when trying to identify objects around them, particularly when moving.. Stabilization exercises make sure that vision is clear even with the head movement.
Types of gaze stability exercises :
a) Fixating on an object while the child repeatedly moves the head. Movement in the direction back and forth or up and down for up to a few minutes.
b) Making use of vision and sensation as feedback from body parts as substitutes for the damaged vestibular system.
3) Balance Training:
Balance Training exercises are used to improve steadiness as the child moves around. These are very important in facilitating development in the child to reach milestones. The exercises to improve balance should be planned based on each child’s balance issues and need to be a little challenging but safe enough so the child does not fall while doing the exercises.
**Canalith Repositioning Procedure (“EPLEY MANEUVER”):
Canalith Repositioning Procedure is useful in the case of Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). This Procedure can be done in older children. These maneuvers involve a series of movements to change the position of the head. This procedure is done to move small crystals in the inner ear called Canalith (otolith) from the displaced position back to their normal position.
Medications are prescribed to children to manage symptoms like nausea, vomiting, or motion sickness. Antiemetics are prescribed to manage nausea and vomiting. Vestibular suppressants can be used in older children. Different classes of drugs used are antihistamines, anticholinergics, and sedatives like benzodiazepines. Middle ear infections are a common treatable cause of vestibular disorders in children. Antibiotics are used in management in case of bacterial infection.
Surgical intervention :
A surgical procedure may be required In rare conditions such as semicircular canal dehiscence or tumors involving inner ear like schwannoma.
Management of balance problems in children requires a team approach between the hearing professionals, parents, and the child. Specialist doctors and audiologists work together in customizing a treatment plan after assessment and diagnosis. Treatments are important and effective for children with Balance Problems.