Body awareness and body proprioception-why is that important?!

Sharon Galitzer (Physical Therapist) by Sharon Galitzer (Physical Therapist) Additional Needs

Sharon Galitzer (Physical Therapist)

Sharon Galitzer (Physical Therapist)

I'm a pediatric physical therapist and also the sibling of an adult with special needs.

Body awareness and body proprioception-why is that important?!

Envision someone strapping you into a hang glider and asking you to jump off of a cliff?

Of course, you’ve seen it in the movies, you have a good idea of what it should look like, but you’d definitely perform better had you completed a couple of practice runs prior to that event, in order to be familiar with what it feels like.

What does it mean?

Body awareness and proprioception are integral to know where one’s body is in space relative to their surroundings and which part of one’s body should be activated in order to move within that space.

This information is obtained from numerous environmental and sensory factors.

From superficial to deeper layers, there are skin, joint, muscle and brain receptors that sort and process all of that information.

If this information is limited by weakness or tightness, some children may not experience movement as frequently, in its fullest ranges, at a variety of speeds, or in a variety of positions.

As a result, their active movement may be impacted.

What can we do?

Parents and therapists use massage, ball pools, weighted blankets, vibrating toys, and variable sensory materials to provide that information to a child’s body.

In addition, active movement in space such as gentle rocking, swings, and balance boards also provide vestibular stimulation, which is another piece of information that can stimulate the brain and facilitate movement.

We are moving beings in an ever-changing world.

I highly recommend exposing any child to a variety of positions and a variety of sensations in order to stimulate the body’s sensorimotor system and to help them assess where they are in space from that basic information.

Why is it important?

If a child does not have enough body proprioceptive awareness they may feel like they’re falling in space, or dangling 20 feet high on a ledge.

As a result, we may see quick, jolting, bursts of movements against a surface, or even a person.

These experiences can accompany feelings of angst and stress and may predicate socially undesirable behaviors.

It’s calming to have a solid sense of where one’s body is in space and how to activate one’s body to stay in that space is integral for balance, coordination, and gravitational security.

THEN, we move on.

Any or all of the above sensory strategies can provide important information to a developing mind in order to improve body proprioception and yield many benefits.

It’s a new beginning to a new year.

Therefore, I’ve decided to approach active movement in space by starting at square one- at this point in time, I’m sure you would concur that one must know where they were, and where they are, to plan their next move!!

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