Sunday, January 22, 2012

Vestibular Study

We had an opportunity to participate in a study at UAB. The Physical Therapy Dept. wants to see about the vestibular functions of children with bilateral hearing loss and see if the expensive testing gives better results vs. less expensive testing. So we had our first round of tests yesterday. I was able to provide them with two children for the study and so were several of my friends since we have more than one child with bilateral loss.

The kids had a ball. It was very interesting and kid friendly FUN! Nothing was scary, nothing hurt, and in fact the kids laughed quite a bit (so did we). Gage of course investigated all the equipment and how things worked and they were kind enough to explain all the extra details he needed (lol). Our last set of tests will be the expensive set of tests (at no cost to us) down at the University of Alabama (Nat'l Champs by the way, ahem).

So what did we find out so far? First, I'll preface by saying Gage's ENT informed us a long time ago that his ears were severely malformed inside, even his balance organ. So I did give them all of that information before attending to make sure he was a fair test subject. I told them I never even remember a time that he's ever been dizzy.

After all the tests, it's been determined that Gman does not use his vestibular system at all for balance. He uses his vision and his sense of feeling. He could still balance pretty decently as long as he had one of those, however, when we took both away (blindfold and moving floor) he had absolutely no ability to balance...he'd fall completely. Brook was able to compensate better and on the third attempt, balanced with no vision and a moving surface under her feet.

Another test I found completely interesting...when people spin around, then suddenly stop spinning, their eyes typically pulse to the side for a few seconds as if you are still spinning. This isn't something you can control, it just happens. We got to see Brook's eyes jerk back and forth via tiny camera in a pair of goggles, she thought it was funny when we went back and showed her on the screen. When Gage stopped spinning, his eyes were perfectly still. No movement! So we got confirmation, he doesn't really get dizzy. He pretty much has a non-functioning vestibular system I suppose.

We are looking forward to going to U of A in a couple of weeks. The kids got prizes for going and they too look forward to going for more testing!


tammy said...

interesting. I wish Aiden could be a part of this test. He has no eye movement either when he's spun around. He actually loves it and it is one way we calm him to focus better. He has EVA though, and his balance is horrible. Definitely relies on vision and touch more. Wonder if he just needs to learn how to better compensate with the two before his balance gets better? Did Gage have bad balance as a toddler/preschooler? If so, when did you see if finally getting better/more in control? did you notice if it effected his speech at all?

Val said...

Gage had horrible balance when he was smaller. I think his ADHD helped him though because once he finally could walk properly, he started running...never walked again, lol. I think he outgrew his balance issues by age 3 or so? He really had no speech (actual clear words) til he got his implant when he was 3.5 so we were a little late getting started on that.

Kat said...

What a fascinating study. I remember when we were at JTC how the OTs showed us the spinning around test using one of the parents. I'll have to get Thomas on his sit'n'spin to see how he does. Can't wait to see another post from the next round of tests!

Katy said...

I am a senior in high school who went through AV Therapy and Speech Therapy I was diagnosed around 3 yrs of age with progressive hearing loss. I am about 10 dbs away from profound and I am now beginning to look at CI options. I am bilaterally aided and speech is my primary mode of communication. I dont sign at all. I came accross your blog and I just wanted to comment on the great job you seem to be doing and what a great mother you are. It took my whole family being involved for me to be this successful. They still support me but they have taught me to be my best advocate.I really believe having a great support system for life is key to a childs success with Hearing aids and CI.

dlefler said...

We know Nolan can get dizzy (he'll stumble if you spin him around), but our ENT is pretty sure he does have some vestibular issues. It would be interesting to have an official "read" on it, though! I remember that JTC did a study on kids with bilateral hearing loss and balance and they found that ALL children with ALL levels of hearing loss had some level of vestibular dysfunction. Granted, the kids with mild hearing loss still had a sense of balance, but their responses were still slightly less than that of kids with normal hearing. I found that rather interesting!

mom2jace said...

My son has bilateral LVAS and is a bilateral CI recipient. He is 4 years old, and when he was an infant he suffered from what doctors determined was either severe colic, or severe PPD on my part. Wrong on both accounts. When we realized what was going on internally (a year later), doctors told me the chemical imbalance in his ears was likely the cause of his extreme fussiness, and the reason that the only thing we could do to calm him down was to spin him like a propeller blade. Oh, the things I wish I knew from the get-go!