A Vestibular Disorder is one where temporary or permanent damage to the vestibular system results in dysfunction. This damage can be caused by many things. A blow to the head or ear; excess fluid in the inner ear; the displacement of inner ear crystals; malformation of the inner ear structure; disease or infection; toxic chemicals; an immunological response; a membrane tear; or even a tumorous growth.
The vestibular system includes the parts of the inner ear and brain that help control balance and eye movements. If the system is damaged by disease, aging, or injury, vestibular disorders can result. The type and severity of vestibular disorder symptoms can vary considerably, and be frightening and difficult to describe. People affected by vestibular disorders may be perceived as inattentive, lazy, overly anxious, or seeking attention. Functioning at work or school, performing routine daily tasks, or just getting out of bed in the morning may be difficult.
Vestibular disorders not only profoundly affect adults, but also children. Once thought to be exceptionally rare, pediatric vestibular disorders are receiving increasing attention from clinicians as an overlooked problem.7 In addition to impairments of motor development and balance, vestibular deficits may cause poor gaze stability that inhibits children from learning to read. Despite new awareness of pediatric vestibular disorders, children are currently not typically screened for them, and as a result frequently fail to receive medical treatment.