Thursday, May 04, 2006

Proprioception and Balance Boards

I just read your article on “Balance Boards.” Could you explain more about proprioception and what it is? Thank you. According to Taber’s Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary, proprioception is: The awareness of posture, movement, and changes in equilibrium and the knowledge of position, weight, and resistance of objects in relation to the body. There are proprioceptors throughout the body. Proprioceptors are: Receptors that respond to stimuli originating within the body itself, esp. those responding to pressure, position, or stretch. Ex: muscle spindles, Golgi tendon organs, pacinian corpuscles, and labyrinthine receptors. Let me try to put these concepts into laymens’ terms. Proprioception and kinesthesia, the sensation of joint motion and acceleration, are the sensory feedback mechanisms for motor control and posture. These mechanisms along with the vestibular system, the fluid-filled network in the inner-ear that helps the body stay oriented and balanced, are automatically used by the brain to provide a constant flow of sensory information. The brain can then send out immediate and unconscious adjustments to muscles and joints in order to achieve movement and balance. Without proprioception, you would have a difficult time moving any of your limbs. The nervous system uses proprioception as a means of keeping track of and controlling different parts of the body. For example, when you move a finger, you know where and what the finger is doing, with little effort. Most people are able to simply volunteer their finger to move back and forth and proprioception makes this an easy task. If you didn’t have proprioception, the brain can’t feel what your finger is doing, and the process would have to be carried out in a much more conscious and calculated manner. You would have to use your vision to compensate for the lost feedback on the progress of your finger. You would have to voluntarily and consciously tell your finger what to do while watching the feedback. Hope that helps. Now you can re-read the article on “Balance Boards” and it should make better sense, as one of the primary goals in using balance boards is to improve this vital function.

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