Balance Impairment, Pediatric


    Balance Impairment (Pediatric Inpatient)

    Clinical Description

    • Care of the hospitalized child experiencing an inability to safely or comfortably maintain upright control of the body’s center of gravity relative to the base of support in the given environment.

    Key Information

    • Balance is a complex process involving interactions between multiple body systems, including musculoskeletal, neurologic and sensory systems, such as vestibular, visual and somatosensory systems. Assessment and treatment should address the multifactorial components of balance.
    • Deficits in attention, judgment, memory and cognition directly influence balance abilities, as well as hinder motor learning processes needed to learn or relearn balance skills.
    • High-risk medications related to balance problems include antidepressant, antianxiety, antihistamine, antiepileptic, narcotic, sedative, insulin or oral hypoglycemic, hypnotic and cardiovascular agents, as well as polypharmacy.

    Clinical Goals

    By transition of care

    A. The patient will achieve the following goals:
    • Improved Balance and Postural Control

    B. Patient, family or significant other will teach back or demonstrate education topics and points:
    • Education: Overview
    • Education: Self-Management
    • Education: When to Seek Medical Attention

    Correlate Health Status

    • Correlate health status to:

      • history, comorbidity, congenital anomaly
      • age, developmental level
      • sex, gender identity
      • baseline assessment data
      • physiologic status
      • response to medication and interventions
      • psychosocial status, social determinants of health
      • barriers to accessing care and services
      • child and family/caregiver:
        • health literacy
        • cultural and spiritual preferences
      • safety risks
      • family interaction
      • plan for transition of care

    Balance Impairment


    • dizziness
    • hearing impairment
    • history of fall
    • postural control impaired
    • stumbling
    • unsteady gait
    • vertigo
    • visual impairment
    • wide base of support for age

    Problem Intervention

    Optimize Balance and Safe Activity

    • Evaluate functional balance skills, including postural control, static and dynamic balance; consider child’s age, developmental level and ability to follow directions.
    • Screen for, and address, underlying impairments, such as muscle weakness, sensorimotor, cognitive and postural control deficits.
    • Encourage independent functional status while providing level of assistance needed for safety.
    • Recommend and facilitate environmental modifications to promote independence and safety, such as grab bars, bath seat; consider a home assessment.
    • Train in, and reinforce, use of appropriate orthoses, adaptive equipment or assistive devices (e.g., ankle foot orthosis, adaptive seating system, scooter).
    • Facilitate safe surroundings; keep needed items within reach, such as call light and personal belongings.
    • Provide a safe, barrier-free, uncluttered environment that promotes optimal level of function; ensure adequate lighting, especially at night.
    • Facilitate therapeutic interventions, such as balance training, muscle strengthening, structured play, trunk training, virtual reality and tai chi, yoga or Pilates exercise.
    • Address sitting balance impairments with interventions, such as supportive seating, positioning devices and therapeutic exercise.

    Associated Documentation

    • Activity Management
    • Adaptive Equipment Use
    • Safety Promotion/Fall Prevention
    • Self-Care Promotion


    CPG-Specific Education Topics


    • description

    • signs/symptoms


    • activity

    • assistive/adaptive devices

    • home safety

    • medication management

    • provider follow-up

    • rehabilitation therapy

    When to Seek Medical Attention

    • unresolved/worsening symptoms

    General Education Topics

    General Education

    • admission, transition of care

    • orientation to care setting, routine

    • advance care planning

    • diagnostic tests/procedures

    • diet modification

    • opioid medication management

    • oral health

    • medication management

    • pain assessment process

    • safe medication disposal

    • tobacco use, smoke exposure

    • treatment plan

    Safety Education

    • call light use

    • equipment/home supplies

    • fall prevention

    • harm prevention

    • infection prevention

    • MDRO (multidrug-resistant organism) care

    • personal health information

    • resources for support

    Population-Specific Considerations


    • Younger children have a stronger reliance on visual input to make postural corrections. Children with visual impairments may demonstrate greater balance impairment deficits.
    • The causes of balance problems can be difficult to identify in children; impairments are often overlooked, as symptoms might be attributed to developmental stage.


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    Clinical Practice Guidelines represent a consistent/standardized approach to the care of patients with specific diagnoses. Care should always be individualized by adding patient specific information to the Plan of Care.

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