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Vestibular (balance) therapies
Many brain functions depend on a well-calibrated vestibular system. We can think of this as our balance system – it is like a very clever compass, and helps us to know where up, down, left, right, forward, reverse, side to side, and stop are. When a vestibular system is not functioning correctly, we can experience all sorts of issues including vertigo, dizziness, nausea, being unco-ordinated, difficulty with eyesight gaze stability, even issues with emotional stability, and others.
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The vestibular system underpins many other functions of the brain as it provides information which give clear reference points, and these enable accurate bodily movements and accurate knowledge of where our body is in space. These reference points also relate heavily to our posture, and how we hold our body. When things are miscalibrated (not accurate) in the vestibular system we can end up with postural issues such as a head tilt, due to inaccuracies in the vestibular system meaning that the brain is not able to calculate where horizontal is, for example. Postural issues can not only lead to tension and pain in the body, but they can also lead to poor posture, clumsiness, and these then cascade into anxiety – where a person has an unconscious awareness that they are ‘not quite as physically adept as other people’ and hence may make errors.
The reference points and information which we gain from our vestibular system, and also how this system leaves us feeling (confident or anxious, balanced or nauseous, for example) have a big impact on the rest of the function of our brain, and of our whole body, and even personality. Many connectomes (when various regions of the brain connect together for a task) rely upon the accuracy of information from the vestibular system in order to fulfil their purposes. Even abstract concepts, such as mathematics, or imagination rely on information accumulated from the vestibular system. This system is fundamental to so many cerebral processes, and is also fundamental to development and even quality of life. This is why it is so important that the vestibular system is calibrated correctly, and this is where someone qualified in vestibular therapies can make a huge difference to someone’s brain function, and to their quality of life.
If you use Vestibular Therapy, you can expect a thorough assessment of the vestibular system, from simple observed balance skills, all the way through to state of the art technology to measure things such as weight distribution on legs,and eye movements.
For information on where to find a Vestibular Therapy practitioner, you can find links here.
If you are interested to study more about Vestibular Therapy, in my opinion, currently, two of the greatest experts in this field are Prof. Susan J Herdman and Dr David Traster.