The vestibular system is located inside the inner ear and it is the sensory system responsible for detecting movement of our head and the sense of gravity. It tells us which way up our head is and where our head is in space at any time.
The vestibular system is very important in helping us to maintain our balance. It also helps us keep an upright posture against gravity so it is important in postural control.
The vestibular system is linked to our visual system. Imagine that you are driving down a very bumpy road, the vestibular system sends messages to our visual system to keep a stable visual gaze so that the horizon does not move up and down when we get bounced up and down in the car.
The vestibular system also has a direct impact on our arousal level. Linear movement, which is movement in only one direction eg back and forwards, or up and down, is calming, organising and regulating to our nervous system. Rotary movement, eg spinning , is very alerting to our nervous system. Linear movement combined with proprioception is a powerful regulator.
Below are 5 simple ideas to get more linear movement into a child’s day.
Five ideas for home and school
These chairs provide linear vestibular input. Although they are more expensive than a standard classroom chair, I feel they are worth the extra cost. Most schools once they have bought one chair go on to buy more. Very helpful for children who are seeking vestibular input.
Swings provide linear vestibular input if suspended from 2 points. Very flexible piece of equipment, can be indoors and outdoors.
Great piece of equipment for use in the classroom or at home. It provides both linear vestibular and proprioceptive sensory input.
Trampettes and trampolines are a good way to get plenty of vestibular input combined with proprioception. You can get in various sizes so suitable for both classroom, home and outdoors, or go and visit your local trampoline park.
Go karts, bikes and scooters
Go karts make great addition to school playground equipment or for home, as do bikes and scooters.
Scooter boards primarily give vestibular and proprioceptive sensory input. They are not too expensive, don’t take up much space, are light to carry, and can be used for endless different activities, especially if you have a good imagination. See this newsletter for ideas on how to use.