the eric update – day 653: the advanced vestibular system trainer.

odin has graduated from his old preemie play group to a new one that’s much more structured around “exploring sensory input through play” as a mechanism to help prevent sensory integration dysfunction. while we have been working on his purported proprioception issues, we don’t have any strong indication that he has any problems integrating his sensory information other than maybe the The Vision ( Motor ) Thing, which may or may not be “real”.

but it certainly can’t hurt to be a little proactive since odin is at a higher risk for the dysfunction and each week we’ll be working on a specific sense. and while the “special” senses ( sight, hearing, taste and smell ) are usually what come to mind first, it’s important for us to work on the “near body” sensesproprioception and equilibrioception which is sensed through the vestibular system; the vestibular system is of particular importance because it provides odin with input about his movement and orientation in space, but it’s also involved in visual system development, auditory system functioning, muscle tone, posture, attention, learning and memory. and unfortunately this very basic and important system is quite vulnerable to insult from extremely prematurity.

while proprioception exercises focus primarily on walking on uneven terrain and up and down steep inclines ( preferably with weights ), vestibular activities include swinging, rocking, bouncing/jumping, dancing, skipping, running, hopping, jumping rope and rough and tumble play.

swinging is a particlarly effective exercise, so we thought we’d put him in the big kid swing for the first time today, to test his sense of balance while swinging without the aid of the toddler seat. supposedly, even the innocuous looking swing can cause changes in brain chemistry that last 12-14 hours after only 15 minutes of play and can last up to 2-4 days.

not only did he not fall out of the swing and not show any of the “warning signs” of a stressed vestibular system, he seemed rather bored by it and was far more interested in the girls who were winding up their swings and spinning in rapid circles.

Leave a Reply