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Tribunal of Commissioners                                                                                                    25 November 2005

Case Nos CDLA/2879/2004 and CDLA/2899/2004

161.Paragraph 7 of the statement of reasons contained the core of the tribunal’s reasoning in relation to the higher rate of the mobility component:

“In her previous claim pack, [the claimant] said that she could not go out alone because of dizziness.  Dr Mitchell [the claimant’s GP] had stated that she “had difficulty leaving the house alone”.  She did not state either in her claim pack or during the hearing that her lower limbs were impaired.  She did not say that she could not walk.  During the hearing, she said that she did not go out alone, but would go out with her husband and her husband said that on Sunday afternoons they either went to the park or to a garden centre.  Although the Department had not removed or reduced her award to (sic) higher rate mobility component, the tribunal found that as specialists had found no organic cause for her dizziness despite intensive investigations (paragraph 5), there was no physical disablement that could result in an award of higher rate mobility component.  The tribunal found that Department had made the decision in ignorance of the material fact that investigations had not found an organic cause for [the claimant’s] dizziness, as it was not in possession of GP notes until Mr McDonald sent these in with his letter of 8 March 2003.  The tribunal therefore removed the award from 25 November 2003.”

162.We received some helpful evidence from Dr Ford as to the nature of vestibular disorders, of which we would set out the following as being of particular assistance in understanding the evidence before the tribunal and the tribunal’s reasoning:

“13.The vestibular system is a complex part of the inner ear that plays an important role in helping the person to maintain balance. Fluid in balance organs in the inner ear (the semicircular canals) moves as the head moves; messages are sent to the brain via the vestibular nerve (the nerve of balance).

14.Maintenance of balance in the human body is complex and is coordinated in the brain. Information is received from the eyes, sensory receptors in the muscles, joints, skin and from the vestibular system in the ear. This information from the periphery (the peripheral parts of the body) is coordinated and interpreted centrally by the brain. In turn messages are sent from the brain to the eyes, joints, etc enabling balance to be maintained.  Abnormal function of any central or peripheral component may affect balance adversely.  Abnormalities of the vestibular system are common.

15.Causes of vestibular disorder affecting the inner ear include:

Viral infections (labyrinthitis, vestibular neuronitis)

Benign positional vertigo

Menières disease

Head injury

Ototoxic drugs e.g. certain antibiotics

Acoustic neuroma (a tumour of the vestibular nerve)

16.Vestibular disorders may cause a number of symptoms including vertigo….  Other symptoms of vestibular disorder include dizziness, giddiness and feeling unsteady when walking….

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