Objectives Vestibular dysfunction following traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a major cause of morbidity and unemployment and has impact on the patient’s ability to rehabilitate. Chronically, up to a quarter of TBI cases have cryptogenic dizziness and imbalance, possibly due to chronic brain adaptation that masks the diagnosis. Establishing the spectrum of vestibular diagnoses in acute TBI – when they may be more obvious – may aid diagnosis in chronic TBI cases.
Design Prospective audit of referrals to specialist neuro-otology team.
Subjects Consecutive Major Trauma Ward TBI in-patients admitted between June 2014 and May 2015.
Methods All cases were screened by the therapists for vestibular symptoms and/or signs and referred for specialist neuro-otology review.
Results Of 111 patients screened, 96 had features of vestibular dysfunction. Of 96 cases, SYMPTOMS (i.e. subjective report) included: – imbalance (58.3%) – headache (50%) -dizziness (40%) Of 96 cases, SIGNS (i.e. examination) included: – gait ataxia (75.5%) – broken smooth pursuit (61.2%) – positive Hallpike (51%) – positive head impulse test (18%). The data indicate that BPPV affects 49% and headache with migraine-like features affect 40.8%. Acute peripheral unilateral vestibular loss affects 18% TBI cases.
Conclusions Vestibular dysfunction in TBI is common, typically involving peripheral and central structures, often in the same case, and requires specialist neuro-otological management.
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