balanceThis 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.

Here’s an introduction to our Sense of Balance.

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.

Here’s some more information about when things go wrong in this system in children.

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!

A quick and dirty test to rule out a commonly missed cause and how to fix it.

Many parents and teachers complain of children with developmental, learning, and coordination challenges falling out of their chairs. They will see this during class instruction and during homework time. Read more

In physical therapy we’re mostly focused on improving movement skills or maximizing ability. However, there are other essential factors that need to be present in both children and adults for physical therapy or any other form of healing to lead to wellness.

The most powerful lesson that I learned during my almost two years feeling dizzy was to take control of the things that I could control. When we face illness or disability there are many different ways to approach it, as there are different ways to approach life. Read more

Regular moms vs Special needs moms

Moms, a stranger walks among you. We look like regular moms, but we are the hybrid to your standard engine. Our child’s disability altered us, enhanced us. Many words describe us: resilient, creative, protective, emboldened, sympathetic, fierce and determined. We are special needs moms. How do our lives stand apart from your own? Take a look under the hood and see for yourself.

by Dawn Villarreal, One Place for Special Needs, May 2010

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