Clinical Challenges in Otolaryngology
April 2003

Value of Vestibular Testing in Young Children With Sensorineural Hearing Loss

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Copyright 2003 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.2003

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2003;129(4):478-482. doi:10.1001/archotol.129.4.478

Hypothesis: Infants and young children with congenital or early acquired sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) should be screened for vestibular dysfunction with quantitative vestibular tests.

The mature vestibular system is responsible for stabilizing the position of the eyes, head, and body in space, and helps to maintain an upright stance. It is composed of 2 parts, each with different roles: (1) the vestibular-ocular system, responsible for visual stabilization; and (2) the vestibular-spinal system, which maintains the orientation of the body in space and contributes to the postural tone necessary for the acquisition of motor developmental milestones.1 Children with bilateral vestibular loss since birth or in childhood present with delayed gross motor development. These children stand and walk later than children without vestibular loss.2 However, the postural disturbances that result from isolated peripheral dysfunction are usually corrected by the time the children reach adolescence.24 Through a process of compensation, input from propioceptive, visual, and other sensory systems are substituted for the absent peripheral vestibular input.4

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