The vestibular sense plays an essential role in the relationship between our body, gravity, and our environment. Something a lot of us take for granted simply because it is that unseen thing that just happens, however the vestibular sense is our bodies processing system.
It helps us to receive information about where our body is in space from our inner ear. It’s super interesting that our ears play much more of an important role than just hearing! This information then tell us where our body is in space. It’s responsible for informing us whether our body is stationary or moving, how fast it’s moving, and in what direction. This provides us with information on our bodies orientation and balance within our environment, allowing us to experience gravitational security.
The vestibular system works closely with the proprioceptive system to support balance.
Different parts of our brain switch on conscious and unconscious postural muscles to help us get our balance (up, down, forward, backward). Therefore, when our core is strong, it helps keep us upright and decreases our risk of falling.
Engaging your children to support their vestibular sense
At OTFC therapists help to engage children in a range of sensory based activities and games requiring them to balance and maintain different postural positions to support the development of both the vestibular and proprioceptive sense.
During a session the therapists may conduct activities that help to guide children to balance on a swing and throw bean bags at a target, gradually increasing the complexity of the activity to develop balance and postural control.
Indoor and outdoor activities to develop balance at home
- Playing Simon Says or Hokey Pokey
- Playing active virtual-reality based video games such as Wii Fit or Xbox Kinectic
- Animal Walks: walking like a bear, crab, kangaroo, dog, chicken
- Playing Twister
- Gym ball activities. Sitting on a gym ball. Try lifting one foot off the ground then grading up to two feet off the ground
- Rolling over a gym ball on stomach and support self by using hands to walk forward/backward
- Wobble boards (playing throw and catch while on board, balloon tap, bending down to pick up bean bags)
- DIY lava course with pillows, blankets, simple house items that you can stand on
- Indoor rock climbing
- Dance classes or online dance videos
- Kneeling on floor without using hands to support to tap a balloon back to another person.
- Balance a bean bag on top of your head and practice walking in a straight line. Grade this by balancing around in a circle, zigzag, backwards or moving from side to side.
- Musical statues. Encourage freezing in a balancing position such as on one foot, leaning in one direction or heel-to-toe.
- Putting masking tape on the floor in different ways and shapes then try balancing on the tape.
- Trampoline games: scissor jumps, jumping on knees, etc
- Climbing on playground equipment
- Riding a tricycle, bike or scooter
- Crab soccer: kicking a ball whilst walking on all fours, bottom off the ground and tummy to the sky
- Wheelbarrow walking
- Stepping stones games with big jumps
- Balancing paper game. Getting an A3 or A4 piece of paper and standing on top of the paper. Each time you successfully balance on the paper fold it in half. Continue folding until you can’t balance on the paper anymore. Aim is to get the paper as small as possible and balancing on your tip toes.
*All activities can be graded by closing eyes to increase balance challenge.
For a little more help with your child’s vestibular and proprioceptive senses, we’d love you to contact us for an appointment or assessment. Have a look around our website while you’re here at OTFC.
We’re now based across three locations Adelaide CBD, Mile End and Parkside.
OTFC Group – We’re Influencing Lives. Creating Possibilities. Making a Difference
OTFC is a South Australian clinic-based service that is centrally located and services children and adolescents from birth through to 21 years of age both locally and nationally. Dedicated to providing a client focused approach where children and families feel validated in their concerns, supported in difficult times, encouraged to be proactive and inspired to facilitate change.