Advanced pediatric vestibular rehabilitation therapy program diagnoses and treats children with vestibular disorders that can delay child development.

Newport Beach, Calif. (October 27, 2011) – Newport Mesa Audiology, Balance and Ear Institute (the Institute) announced today they have developed an advanced program to treat the large number of children with undetected vestibular disorders that cause symptoms of dizziness, vertigo and balance problems that can delay child development. The specialized pediatric vestibular rehabilitation therapy (VRT) program uses advanced medical technology and “conditioned play” to quickly and effectively diagnose, treat and rehabilitate children with these disorders.

“Millions of kids in the U.S. between birth and age five are suffering from vestibular dysfunction, or balance system disorders, that are going undetected or being misdiagnosed. Though hearing testing at birth is mandatory in most states, testing the vestibular system in the inner ear is not,” said Dr. Howard T. Mango, founder and executive director of the Institute. “Yet, it’s estimated more than 323,000 children are born every year with vestibular disorders that could seriously affect their child development. That said, most medical specialists don’t have a good answer and parents are desperately looking for one.”

According to the Vestibular Disorders Association, “Despite reports that, as a consequence of vestibular deficits, children have poor gaze stability that affects reading, and impairments of motor development and balance, children are not typically screened for vestibular deficits. Consequently, vestibular dysfunction in childhood is an overlooked entity and intervention to ameliorate these impairments is not provided.”

In 2008, the Institute invested nearly $500,000 in two I-Portal® Neuro-Otologic Test Centers (NOTC), developed and manufactured by Neuro Kinetics, Inc., to perform non-invasive VRT to diagnose and treat adult patients with vestibular disorders. The Institute is among a select number of medical institutions across the country, including the Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins and the U.S. Navy that are using this advanced medical technology.

After seeing a growing trend of children with vestibular disorders that were causing symptoms of dizziness, vertigo and balance problems, the Institute developed a specialized pediatric VRT program using the technology mentioned above to retrain children’s brains how to balance.

The Institute recently treated and rehabilitated three-year-old Casey Ecker who was diagnosed with peripheral vestibular dysfunction, which kept him from walking until he was 19 months old.

“Casey was late in his developmental milestones, most notably walking. Once he started walking at 19 months old, he was always falling down, had lots of bruises on his face and head and people would comment he looked drunk,” said Heidi Brandl, a parent from Newport Beach, California. “Even at age three, he still couldn’t do certain ‘age appropriate’ things, such as jump off a stair or stand on one leg.”

Symptoms and behaviors that might indicate a childhood vestibular disorder:

  • Late crawling or walking
  • Poor fine and/or gross motor skills
  • Perceived as clumsy
  • A family history of migraine headaches
  • Predisposed to motion sickness (Most motion sickness is a direct response to a weak inner ear and is not normal; get it checked.)
  • Difficulty looking at flashing, fluorescent or moving lights / discomfort in chaotic situations (heavy traffic, busy patterns, crowded/noisy places)

“The most frustrating part was knowing something wasn’t right with my child and not being able to pinpoint what it was. Casey and I spent a year and a half seeing six different medical specialists without a conclusive diagnosis,” said Brandl. “When we were finally referred to Newport-Mesa Audiology, Balance and Ear Institute for vestibular evaluation and rehabilitation, it was a huge relief to know there was a conclusive diagnosis and the condition was treatable with non-invasive therapy.”

“We have invested millions in advanced medical technology that allows us to comprehensively diagnosis vestibular disorders that can cause pediatric dizziness, vertigo and balance problems, so we can pinpoint the most accurate treatment approach,” said Dr. Cara Makuta, director of clinical research for the Institute. “We combine this with conditioned play to make it especially effective. We shoot stars in rotational therapy. We move a hockey puck into a goal during computerized dynamic posturography. We turn it into a game and make it fun for kids to hold their attention.”

“I constantly tightened my stomach when Casey approached stairs or uneven areas. I’m not a ‘helicopter mom,’ but I couldn’t ignore safety issues,” said Brandl. “I had the ‘aha’ moment that pediatric VRT was really working when he was around places where he could fall and I realized I wasn’t tightening my stomach anymore. And now, he’s even ice skating!”

Newport-Mesa Audiology Balance and Ear Institute ( is one of the country’s leading institutes for the research, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of patients with dizziness, vertigo and balance disorders. A team of doctors of audiology work with state-of-the-art technology in the areas of vestibular diagnosis and rehabilitation. The Institute is also one of the nation’s most well-equipped audiological facilities, serving an ever-growing number of adult, teen and pediatric cases. The Institute receives referrals from a broad network of physicians including neurologists, otolaryngologists, internal medicine, cardiologists and family physicians. For more information, call (888) 371-3920.

Media Contact: Michael Williams Director of Communications 949.642.7935