Cochlear Implants and Children with Vestibular Impairments

Sharon L Cushing, Blake C Papsin
Seminars in Hearing 2018, 39 (3): 305-320
Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) in children occurs in 1 to 3% of live births and acquired hearing loss can additionally occur. This sensory deficit has far reaching consequences that have been shown to extend beyond speech and language development. Thankfully there are many therapeutic options that exist for these children with the aim of decreasing the morbidity of their hearing impairment. Of late, focus has shifted beyond speech and language outcomes to the overall performance of children with SNHL in real-world environments. To account for their residual deficits in such environments, clinicians must understand the extent of their sensory impairments. SNHL commonly coexists with other sensory deficits such as vestibular loss. Vestibular impairment is exceedingly common in children with SNHL with nearly half of children exhibiting vestibular end-organ dysfunction. These deficits naturally lead to impairments in balance and delay in motor milestones. However, this additional sensory deficit likely leads to further impairment in the performance of these children. This article focuses on the following: 1. Defining the coexistence of vestibular impairment in children with SNHL and cochlear implants. 2. Describing screening methods aimed at identifying vestibular dysfunction in children with SNHL. 3. Understanding the functional implications of this dual-sensory impairment. 4. Exploring possible rehabilitative strategies to minimize the impact of vestibular impairment in children with SNHL.

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