The Vestibular Sense – What’s it all about?

child on a merry go round

There are so many things we take for granted. But anyone who has had one instance of vertigo (or “the spins”) will tell you that not feeling steady on your feet is not fun. Just like our previous post about proprioception, the vestibular sense is one of the “additional” senses that each person is given. But not everyone’s vestibular system works the same way.

What is the vestibular sense?

The vestibular sense is the sense that keeps your body balanced. This sense is a system in your inner ear which registers location and movement. It also is the system that deals with gravity’s effect on the body. This sense sends information to the brain about where the body is in relation to gravity, such as if they are moving or standing still.

Why is the vestibular system important?

The vestibular sense is important because it keeps our bodies balanced which helps coordinate body movements. When our bodies are balanced we’re able to perform every day activities, especially those requiring head and eye movement. If you had difficulty with your vestibular system, you might have issues tracking objects like a ball thrown across the room or copying notes from a blackboard (did I just age myself?).

Since the vestibular system controls your equilibrium, those with vestibular disorders often shy away from physical activities. It makes sense that if you felt like you were always going to fall over! But because of this, kids with vestibular issues have trouble with muscle strength. By avoiding certain movements they miss out on key development of those muscles – muscles required for continued development. A well functioning system keeps kids moving and happy!

 

Vestibular Input Activities for Kids

The following activities activities are perfect for kids looking for more vestibular input.

  • Hanging upside down
  • Sitting on a Sit and Spin
  • Spinning around in circles
  • Sommersaults
  • Cartwheels
  • Lying on stomach on Scooter boards
  • Spinning on an office chair
  • Swings
  • Slides

 

Additional Resources for Vestibular Disorders

Vestibular Disorders Association

Inspired Treehouse

Kids Health – Balance Disorder

Child Behavior Guide

Sprouts Development

Lemon Lime Adventures

 

The vestibular system is a crucial system in childhood development. We hope the above gave some new insight into the vestibular sense and ideas to stimulate that sense. Let us know what activities you do with your little ones to work on the vestibular system!

 

Image from flickr by Charles Knowles

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3 comments
Veronica Lee - July 23, 2016

Your blog is very information and educational.
Hi! Stopping by from Mom Bloggers Club.
Have a nice day!

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Best Kids Balance Toys - 7 Options to Find Your Bearings - Kinesthetic Kid - August 15, 2016

[…] came up. While my daughter ended up just having turned in feet, many kids suffer from balance or vestibular input issues. When that occurs, parents and OTs often turn to kids balance toys to help kids with their […]

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