Vestibular And Vestobulo-Ocular Functions

The Vestibular function, much like the Proprioceptive System, contributes to balance, movement, and spatial awareness. It also contributes to posture and proper visual system function necessary for smooth reading.

The vestibular uses sensory receptors in your eyes and ears to tell you if you are turning or not. It also helps you stay upright in spite of gravity.

Major Vestibular Disorders are very noticeable as Vertigo and other balance issues. However, a very slight weakness in Vestibular Function and Vestibulo-Ocular Reflex(VOR) often goes unnoticed. This causes motor development issues, and balance and vision processing problems that contribute to Learning Disabilities especially reading, writing, and mathematical abilities.

The Vestibulo-Ocular Reflex is very important to proper learning, reading, and writing. With this function, the brain receives sensory input when the head moves. In an instant, the Vestibulo- Ocular Reflex senses the movement and triggers the eye muscles to move the eyes in the opposite direction at the same speed to compensate for the head movement to keep the visual field stable. The Vestibulo-Ocular reflex needs to be fast.  Clear  vision requires immediate eye compensation to any head movement.  This eye movement is necessary for the eyes to stay focused on an object while the head or body is moving even slightly.

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Test for Vestibular Functions

Children with learning or behavioral disorders can also have a Sensory Processing Disorder. Spinning or turning could cause overstimulation.  Please have a professional assess the child to make sure they can tolerate turning and spinning, before trying these exercises.

First have the child sit with crossed legs in the chair. Put a blindfold on them.

  • Slowly turn them to the right (clockwise) taking about 10 seconds for each full rotation.
  • Have them point what direction they are turning. Ask them to tell you when they feel like they have stopped turning.They can use their finger to point in the direction of the spin and put both hands up if they feel stopped.
  • After a few rotations, slowly come to a stop and start going left (counter clockwise).
  • Stop after a few rotations and note how many inaccuracies there were in each direction.

Look for inaccuracies, such as feeling they are stopped or going in the opposite direction from the spin. Some children with Learning Disabilities and Spectrum Disorders cannot truly feel the spin at all. They should be able to feel stops and the directions of spin with blindfold on. If not exercises are needed!

You can also spin the child 10 times, each rotation taking about 2 seconds, then stop. Have the child look at the ceiling, hold their head if you need to help them. Watch their eyes, they should be twitching slightly. Count how long it takes for their eyes to return to normal. Do the same in the other direction.

Their eyes should twitch for about 13 seconds each direction. Any shorter and there is a weakness. If one side takes longer than the other then the shorter time is the weakness and the other side has an overactive tendency.

  • Counter Clockwise is Left Hemisphere.
  • Clockwise is a Right Hemisphere.

Symptoms

  • Dizziness when reading or focusing on an object.
  • Gets motion sickness easily.
  • Or can spin and spin without getting sick
  • Bumps into things (clumsy).
  • Difficulty doing math work.
  • Misdiagnosis of Learning Disabilities, especially Dyslexia, Dyscalculia and other reading disabilities
  • Spatial awareness weakness.
  • Sensory issues
  • ADHD