All these texts are extracted from "Balance problems in children" by Action Connaissance Formation pour la Surdité - www.acfos.org
What is the Vestibule?
The vestibule is a little known sensory organ, the basic building block for equilibrium, a sixth sense hidden within the inner ear. This cavity bored within the bone of the base of the skull is truly a labyrinth sheltering both the auditory apparatus (or cochlea, shaped like a snail’s shell) and the vestibular apparatus (called the vestibule). This common position within the inner ear explains why many pathologies (genetic, infectious, traumatic) can affect hearing (deafness) and the vestibular apparatus (equilibrium and gaze control problems) in the same patient.
What are the Consequences of Dysfunction in a Child?
Delay of postural control and of psychomotor development
Delayed and uncertain walking and falling
Discomfort for rapid movements
A great expense of energy, easily fatigued, global lack of attention for learning, a feeling of doing two things at the same time
Poor spatial representations
Total deficit: complete absence of any vestibular information.
Areflexia from birth or acquired during the first year of life
All stages of acquisition of motor and postural control are delayed. The child has no vertical references and no instantaneous detection of his movements. When he turns her head, the world wobbles around him.
Areflexia after taking the first steps independently (as can happen for example after a meningitis)
The delays in posturo-motor development will not be as substantial. The child can employ that which was acquired previously. Meanwhile, he must relearn to stabilize his head and his body, and once again go through the classic developmental stages.
Basic principles of compensation?
Without vestibular information the child, in order to maintain equilibrium, must strengthen two other sensory inputs:
vision, searching for fixed landmarks to stabilize gaze and body posture,
proprioception, seeking stable and secure points of support for the body.
For further information we strongly advise you to consult the "Balance problems in children" made by ACFOS. This is the most complete guide for children and parents. You can find it in French & English.