This week is Balance Awareness Week! Balance can be affected by many different sensory and motor systems and they all need to work together and team up for us to keep our balance during life’s everyday challenges.
Our vestibular system describes our balance system house in our inner ears. It becomes active before we our born, is tested out and activated by children as they roll and spin throughout childhood, and becomes more sensitive (no more spinning amusement rides!) as we age.
Our somatosensory system is another big member of the balance team. This system includes touch (think toes in the sand) and also proprioceptive information, which travels from muscles and joints to the brain to tell us where we are in space. Here’s a vestibular patient and OT’s blog post talking about proprioception Here’s another great post on proprioception, which (yay!) includes the importance of alignment in core activation (more important than strength!).
Our third important sensory system of the balance team is vision. Children rely on vision as #1 of the sensory team for balance. As children get older, they must learn to integrate the three systems.
During a physical therapy evaluation, the different sensory and motor systems and how they are working together are assessed. Common problem areas are:
-Postural asymmetries and poor alignment affecting PROPRIOCEPTION
-Decreased VESTIBULAR activation
-Decreased functional VISION skills
-Decreased ability to combine postural control with these sensory systems to work automatically without effort
Call us to arrange a screening and learn how to improve your child’s balance skills within minutes!