Assessing the development of balance function in children using stabilometry

Department of Otolaryngology, Taipei Hospital, Department of Health, The Executive Yuan, Taipei, Taiwan.
International journal of pediatric otorhinolaryngology (Impact Factor: 1.19). 03/2009; 73(5):737-40. DOI: 10.1016/j.ijporl.2009.01.016
Source: PubMed


This study assessed the development of balance function in children using platform stabilometry.
A total of 251 healthy children aged from 3 to 12 years were enrolled in this study. Each subject underwent stabilometry under four various conditions (A: firm surface with eyes open; B: firm surface with eyes closed; C: foam pad with eyes open; and D: foam pad with eyes closed). Another 23 healthy adults were also tested with the same protocol for comparison. Sway magnitudes such as sway velocity and circular area were calculated and compared.
Since the age was positively correlated with body height and body weight, age factor was used to correlate with the sway magnitude. The sway velocity under conditions A through D reached adult level when the child grew up to 7, 7, 8 and 12 years, respectively. In contrast, the circular area under conditions A through D reached adult level when the child was at the age of 5, 6, 8 and 7 years, respectively. Thus, balance function can be up to adult levels by age 12 years.
Compared to adults, higher sway velocity and larger circular area in children indicate incomplete development of vestibular and central nervous systems integration. Our results suggest that age factor serves the most reliable index to estimate the functional development of balance system, and a child at the age of 12 years is supposed to reach balance level of an adult.

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    • "A second explanation, offered by Woollacott et al. (1987), Peterson et al. (2006), and Cuisinier et al. (2011), is that it is the integration between sensory systems, rather than the sensory systems themselves, that is underdeveloped in children. Supportive of this assumption are studies that show that children have more problems than adults when they have to balance under conflicting sensory conditions (e.g., Peterka and Black, 1990; Cherng et al., 2001; Hsu et al., 2009). Third, the lower PS in children might be due to a lower degree of intersegmental coordination reflected in a hampered head stabilization, as suggested by Assaiante and Amblard (1995), Berger et al. (1995), Mallau et al. (2010), and Schärli et al. (2012). "
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