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Use the information provided on this site as an educational resource for determining your options and making your
own informed choices. It is not intended as medical advice or to diagnose, prescribe, or treat any specific illness.
|Vestibular System: The vestibular system refers to structures within the inner ear (the semi-circular
canals) that detect movement and changes in the position of the head. For example, the vestibular system
tells you when your head is upright or tilted (even with your eyes closed). Dysfunction within this system
may manifest itself in two different ways. Some children may be hypersensitive to vestibular stimulation
and have fearful reactions to ordinary movement activities (e.g., swings, slides, ramps, inclines). They may
also have trouble learning to climb or descend stairs or hills; and they may be apprehensive walking or
crawling on uneven or unstable surfaces. As a result, they seem fearful in space. In general, these children
appear clumsy. On the other extreme, the child may actively seek very intense sensory experiences such as
excessive body whirling, jumping, and/or spinning. This type of child demonstrates signs of a
hypo-reactive vestibular system; that is, they are trying continuously to stimulate their vestibular systems.
Depending on the type of vestibular problem, therapy might include rocking in a rocking chair, swinging,
hanging upside down in a tire swing, spinning on playground equipment, laying in various positions on a
swinging hammock, rolling, somersaulting, turning cartwheels, dancing, and therapy balls. Activities
involve the head in a variety of positions (upright, tilted, upside down). When activities are done with
closed eyes, the vestibular system receives more stimulation. More suggestions at our Strategies page and
Motor Skills page.
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