Acceptability and feasibility of electrical Vestibular Nerve Stimulation in children with cerebral palsy

Karen McConnell, Daniel Topley, Jason McKeown, Claire Kerr

Research output: Contribution to journalSpecial issuepeer-review


Introduction: Recent studies suggest electrical Vestibular NerveStimulation (VeNS) may improve balance for people with neurological impairments. VeNS can be delivered by passing a low level electrical current behind each ear. This study aims to assess the feasibility and acceptability of using a VeNS headset in children with cerebral palsy (CP).Patients and Methods: The School of Nursing and Midwifery’s Research Ethics Committee granted ethical approval for this study. Children aged 5 to 18 years with ambulant CP, their parents, and healthcare professionals were recruited via social media. Children completed a battery of balance tests and wore a sham VeNS headset for one hour per day for 4 weeks. Children, parents’ and healthcare professionals’ perspectives about the balance tests and headset were ascertained using semi-structured interviews. Interview data were analysed thematically. Results: Eight of the 15 families that responded to the social media invite were eligible to participate, however only two families enrolled and completed the study. Both children completed all balance tests. Families reported discomfort using self-adhesive VeNS electrodes. Adherence with wearing the sham headset was 89% and 100%. Four healthcare professionals were also recruited. Themes identified from interview data were: (1) headset comfort, (2) perceptions about VeNS, (3) the importance of balance, and (4) modifications for future study.Conclusion: Although the balance tests and headset employed were acceptable to families and healthcare professionals, a larger study is not yet feasible due to the low recruitment rate. Recruitment via healthcare professionals and use of an ‘active’ VeNS headset may improve recruitment rate in future research.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberOral presentation 113
Pages (from-to)45
Number of pages1
JournalDevelopmental Medicine and Child Neurology
Issue numberS4
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 24 Nov 2020


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