Skip to main content

Partners in Health

Back to blog

Helping your child overcome vestibular dysfunction with pediatric therapy

Does your child have poor posture, balance or coordination? Do they fatigue easily with activity? Do they fall on the ends of the movement spectrum - either constantly on the move or avoiding physical activity altogether? These are signs that your child may have some sort of vestibular dysfunction.

The vestibular system, which lies in our inner ear, plays a major role in balance and muscle tone, so any dysfunction in the system can cause issues with movement. In adults, vestibular impairments cause dizziness or vertigo, but kids with vestibular problems rarely complain about feeling dizzy. Instead, parents will notice physical signs such as excessive movement or avoiding movement, poor balance, fatigue and/or carsickness. Babies and very young children who cannot describe their symptoms often avoid movement activities and cry.

The good news is vestibular dysfunction can be diagnosed, evaluated and treated to improve a child’s movement and function in their everyday lives! The first step to determine if your child’s symptoms are related to vestibular dysfunction is to talk to their primary care provider about your concerns. The provider can refer them to pediatric therapy and rehabilitation, like St. Francis Capable Kids Pediatric Therapy.

“On the first visit with you and your child, our physical therapists will conduct a series of evaluations, such as balance testing and vision assessments to determine the cause of their impairments and assess various ways to improve the functional limitations,” says Carrie Pena, PT, DPT, physical therapist at Capable Kids.

The physical therapists at St. Francis Capable Kids Pediatric Therapy will address vestibular issues through functional play and simple activities that can be replicated at home to further their progress. Our expert therapists will help your child set and reach meaningful goals, relevant to their age and level of
development. At each appointment, your child will go through the various exercises and practice play-based activities in one of our two conveniently located clinics in Chaska or Savage, built specifically for children.

“Children with vestibular dysfunction can benefit from certain movements or exercises like swinging or rolling,” says Carrie. “As your physical therapist addresses the issues related to vestibular dysfunction, they are also trained to notice if other physical and developmental impairments arise, that may be linked to the original issue, or part of another that can be addressed with additional rehabilitation and therapy.”

If you have concerns that your child’s vestibular system may be causing issues with their balance or movement, ask your child’s provider about physical therapy. With a referral to Capable Kids Pediatric Therapy, your child will be paired with an expert therapist to begin the process towards corrected movement and vestibular health.

With convenient locations in Chaska and Savage, Capable Kids offers occupational, physical and speech therapy services to pediatric patients in the southwest metro.

Learn more at