Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Wordy Wednesday

I'm going to try something.

I'd like to introduce a weekly post that focuses on a word or phrase that might be unfamiliar to many, myself to begin with, in order to expand as many horizons as possible. Any and all feedback is welcome as are suggestions for investigation.

This week on Wordy Wednesday:



Did you know that we actually have SEVEN senses, not five? It's true and in fact, the two so often omitted are quite possibly our two most important. If these two don't work right we are a "hot mess of fire!", to quote my niece.

This week we will focus on one. The proprioceptive sense. This sense is perhaps the most difficult to explain. So I will do my best.

The five most common senses are known less often by their scientific names, but rather by what they enable us to do. Auditory = hear. Tactile = touch. Olfactory = smell. Visual = sight. Gustatory = taste. If I were assigned the task of labeling the other two this way, they would be: Proprioceptive = alignment. Vestibular = balance.

Even 'alignment' is an incomplete simplification, as our proprioceptive sense does more than that, but it's a good place to start. This sense starts deep within our muscles, ligaments, and joints. Receptors there collect information about our particular body parts and where they are in relation to everything else, our other body parts, the floor, other people, furniture, etc. It also is what enables our fine motor skills to master things like holding a crayon, zipping up our jeans or learning a musical instrument. In essence it is the sense that tells our brain where our body parts are so that it can tell them what to do.

It Just Makes Sense!

That may not seem remarkable, but it really is when you realize that most of what this sense does, it does without seeing. This is the sense that enables you to find your way to the kitchen in a blackout, or allows you to type without watching the keys. Those tasks would be impossible without proprioception. Here is a great video:

To give you an idea of an impaired proprioceptive sense, think about this example: Have you ever sat on your foot until it falls totally and completely asleep? Have you ever tried to walk in that condition? It's pretty hard isn't it? Aren't you constantly looking at your foot to make sure it's hitting the ground properly and not twisting or buckling underneath you? Bet you can't wait for it to wake up.

Well, for those who suffer from an impaired or even a weak proprioceptive sense, the same thing is needed. That sense needs to be woken up! This is done through movements that provide information that arouses those receptors. Because they are located deeper than the skin, deep pressure must be provided.
  • jumping
  • rolling
  • rocking
  • tapping
  • banging
  • squishing
  • kneading
  • firm rubbing
  • pushing
  • pulling
These activities all can help wake up a sleepy proprioceptive sense. Often occupational therapy will include jumping on a trampoline, and heavy work activities to achieve optimal proprioceptive function. Once this sense is alert, the brain and body can flow through daily movements and activities smoothly, and often more gently.

That brings this weeks installment to a conclusion. Hope you enjoyed it! I'm posting part II momentarily, in which I explain how we are incorporating these activities in our daily routines.

Wishing everyone a positively proprioceptive day!

1 comment:

  1. Very informative video, especially for those of us with spd kids. -Thks