Home Parents Educators Therapists Athletes Training Products  
 
Home
Testimonials Dr. Belgau
Our Mission Links
Contact Info
How Do I Use the Program?
Theory Behind the Program
Theoretical Components
Parents/Homeschool
ADD/ADHD CAPD
Dyslexia Reading
Handwriting Academics
Educators
ADD/ADHD CAPD
Dyslexia Reading
Handwriting Academics
Therapists
ADD/ADHD CAPD
Dyslexia Reading
Handwriting Academics
Brain Injury Sensory Integration
Athletes/Coaches
Training Seminars
Orlando, FL - 10/24/07
Dallas, TX - 10/29/07
St. Louis, MO - 11/5/07
Portland, OR - 12/3/07
Seattle, WA - 12/7/07
Products
Individual Products
Handbooks and Literature
Audio/Video Resources
Kits for Home Use
Kits for Educators
Kits for Therapists
Kits for Athletes
Learning Breakthrough Kit (Int'l)

Balance as the Central Component

In order to understand why Balametrics’ products and therapies focus so much on balance stimulation activities, we must understand the central role played by the sense of balance, or the vestibular system. As a child grows in the womb, the vestibular system is the first sense to develop, and so it serves as an organizational tool for other brain processes.

The vestibular system gets its raw information from the vestibular organs, which consist of three semicircular canals and the otolith organ. The three semicircular canals are oriented along the x, y, and z axes, and define motion on each of the three dimensions of space. When the head moves, hair cells detect the motion of the fluids inside each canal. The brain uses this information to calculate changes in inertia, in much the same way that the inertial navigation system on an airliner senses changes in position and velocity. The otolith organ uses a pendulum-like appendage, the utricle, to orient the sense to the vertical force of gravity.

Because the vestibular system combines the inertial information from the three semi-circular canals with the gravitational orientation provided by the otolith organ, it is the basis of our inertial gravitational model of the world—that is, our model of the world as three-dimensional space with a clear sense of up and down. As a child continues to develop in the womb, the other major brain systems—motor, tactile, auditory,and visual—also develop, but they develop in relation to the vestibular system, or sense of balance.

Because the vestibular system plays such a key role in the foundations of perception, balance problems can cause many, seemingly unrelated problems in brain function. Click here to learn how Balametrics’ products and therapies can address a wide range of symptoms by working to improve this basic building block of brain function.

Multi-Sensory Integration

Human beings have five senses, but live in one world. In order to form a complete and accurate picture of the world around us, we need to integrate the information from all of our senses, so that we can match the sound of a jet engine with the small silver streak overhead, or small round object we feel with our hands with the white baseball we see with our eyes.

The three-dimensional model of the world provides the framework into which all other sensory data must be integrated. Because the vestibular system is the basis of this three-dimensional model of the world, the effectiveness of the various senses in communicating information accurately to the brain is limited by the precision of the vestibular system.

Because the sense of balance provides the framework necessary for sensory integration, Balametrics’ products and therapies can help people improve sensory integration.

Spatial Awareness

Spatial awareness is, very simply, an organized awareness of the objects in the space around us, and also an awareness of our body’s position in space. Without this awareness, we would not be able to pick food up from our plates and put it in our mouths. We would have trouble reading, because we could not see the letters in their correct relation to each other and to the page. Athletes would not have the precise awareness of the position of other players on the field and the movement of the ball, which is necessary to play effectively.

Spatial awareness requires that we have a model of the three dimensional space around us, and it requires that we can integrate information from all of our senses.

Studies have suggested a link between a well-developed sense of spatial awareness and artistic creativity, as well as success in math. It can also be important in the development of abstract thought. The ability to organize and classify abstract mental concepts is related to the ability to organize and classify objects in space. Visual thinkers, in particular, will tend to use their visual imagination to organize abstract thought.

Because spatial awareness is so important in all activities of human life, from the most basic to the most advanced, deficiencies in spatial awareness can hold people back from achieving their true potential. However, because spatial awareness requires integrating the information from the different senses into the three-dimensional model of the world provided by the vestibular system, activities which refine the vestubular system and develop sensory integration can refine all aspects of brain processing.

Balametrics’ has developed products and therapies that can help people to develop and hone their spatial awareness, and sensory integration, helping them to succeed in life.

Integration Between the Two Hemispheres of the Brain

The human brain is composed of two hemispheres, which function like two networked computers. The left hemisphere receives motor and sensory input from the right side of the body, and the right hemisphere receives input from the left side of the body. When we bring the two systems together and begin the task of developing harmony and synchrony, the first step is to achieve an efficient balance between the two sides of the brain.

Because most mental processes involve both sides of the brain, integration problems between the two hemispheres can result in inefficiencies in brain processes. Thus, some children with reading problems, central auditory processing disorder, language delay, and other learning problems may be suffering from a lack of integration between the two sides of their brain.

Lack of integration between the two sides of the brain can become a vicious circle. A child who has a learning problem may suppress one eye. This can be a symptom of lack of integration between the two hemispheres. But because suppressing one eye means that the child reads with one eye only, the brain networks to support the other eye will become further disorganized through lack of use, exacerbating the lack of integration.

Since the left hemisphere of the brain controls movements on the right side of the body, and the right hemisphere of the brain controls movements on the left side of the body, a person can refine the integration between the two sides of the brain through activities involving both sides of his body. These movements bring the two systems into balance.

One of the most significant points on a child's perceptual and motor skill development continuum is the establishment of a synchronized cross pattern creep (crawling). This is the point where both sides of the body and both hemispheres of the brain are operating within the framework and under the control of a consistent timing system, a system in which the standards for measure for both sides of the body are matched perfectly. For the left leg to move forward synchronously with the right arm and for the same pattern to occur when the right leg and left arm move, requires that the time and space increments for both sides of the brain be in phase.

As the child begins to learn to walk, the sensory integration and balance requirements become much greater. In order to achieve synchrony the child must achieve a higher level of integration between his two sides. The most efficient possible walking pattern for a human is the one in which the two arms are swinging as pendulums counterbalancing the movement of the legs and setting the rhythmic pace for the total movement pattern.

Successful integration between the two sides of the brain is necessary for improving all brain processes, including those for reading, writing, academic achievement, motor skill development, and many others. Click here to learn how Balametrics sensory integration products and therapies can improve integration between the two sides of the brain.

Brain Timing/Reaction Time

Brain timing is very closely related to integration between the two hemispheres of the brain. Successful integration of the two hemispheres of the brain cannot be accomplished apart from efficient brain timing. The most basic element of a computer chip is its clock. The clock speed of the chip is the most significant measure of its ability to process information.

For the brain to process information more efficiently, the processing speed must be faster. Because slower brain processing speed is manifested in motor skill deficiencies, a simple concept will provide a framework for analysis of movement: the greater the balance requirements, the faster the brain must process information provided by the various senses and the faster the brain must process the interaction of the two hemispheres of the brain.

When we observe movement, we can indirectly observe the efficiency of brain processing. Smooth, coordinated movements are the result of precise timing and good integration between the two sides of the brain. Suppressions, rigidity, and uncoordinated movements are the result of bad timing and faulty integration, and are indicative of poor brain processing ability that can manifest itself in learning problems, and learning disabilities, poor academic performance, and many other struggles in life. Studies have also shown that slow brain timing is a factor in learning disorders like ADD/ADHD, and may also be a factor in Central Auditory Processing Disorder.

These inefficiencies resulting from poor brain timing or slow reaction time can be remediated by activities that improve the timing processes in the brain. Activities that require the individual to move both sides of his body synchronously are dependant upon the timing resolution in the brain. Brain timing can be improved by engaging in these types of activities.

Varying the Difficulty Level of Activities

As the difficulty level of an activity increases, the brain must utilize more neurons to achieve the precision necessary to complete the activity. For example, throwing a ball and hitting a small target at 8 meters as opposed to 4 meters requires the brain to involve sixty-four (26) times as many neurons to achieve the same degree of accuracy. Therefore, increasing the difficulty level of a task increases the brain integration (neural involvement) needed to complete the task.

If a person has difficulty executing a particular sensory integration activity, this may be because the activity is more complex than their brain is currently capable of organizing to complete. In order to avoid a crippling sense of failure, then, everyone should start out with activities that are simple enough for them to perform, and gradually increase the difficulty level. At each stage, the neural networks in the brain will improve their organization, which enables them to be stretched to reach the next level.

As the difficulty level of an activity increases, it requires increased spatial awareness, enhanced integration between the two sides of the brain, and more precise brain timing.

Balametrics understands the importance of being able to vary the difficulty level of activities, and have designed our sensory integration products and therapies with the goal of providing a set of activities that can help people at every level.

Sequencing

Studies have validated the premise that attention deficit disorder is a reliable predictor of motor skill deficiencies. Additionally, it has become apparent that approximately half of all children with developmental coordination disorders suffer from varying degrees of ADHD and that children with motor skill disorders experience restricted reading abilities. Further studies have indicated that a variety of motor skill and sequencing abilities are necessary for interactions with others and the environment. Children must be able to construct complex patterns in order to carry out multistep activities both at home and at school. There is significant interaction between the neural networks involved in ADD/ADHD and those involved in the regulation of brain timing and motor skill and planning.

An individual’s ability to improve motor skill efficiency and brain timing impacts his or her ability to sequence. It is apparent that these abilities are necessary for academic achievement and that the failure to master these abilities is a significant inhibitor of academic success. Activities that are designed to address the inefficiencies in the neural networks that are involved can be very helpful in changing the physiological conditions in the brain that are contributing to the difficulty.

Balametrics has developed products and activities that help to improve brain sequencing.

Binocular Teaming

Binocular teaming is the ability of both eyes to work together to provide accurate information to the brain. Binocularity and stereopsis (the working together of the two eyes in providing different views to the brain which are integrated into one image) are important visual processing skills and are responsible for providing depth perception. These visual perception skills are necessary in order to perform a variety of visual tasks such as tracking, fixating, converging, and visual motor integration. These tasks are important for reading, writing, and functioning in the classroom or workplace. Inability to perform these tasks well has a detrimental effect on an individual’s ability to function in society. It also has a tremendous negative effect on children in the classroom.

In order to deal with binocular deficiencies it is important to become involved in some type of vision therapy. There are many types of therapies available which help to address these problems. When choosing vision therapy it is important to remember that vision is a brain process of which the eyes are only a part. It is also important to remember that vision is not a process unto itself but is integrated with and dependent upon the vestibular system (sense of balance). A variety of vision problems occur when both eyes do not work properly together. For instance, one eye might not be processing as much information as the other, one or both eyes may not focus at a specific point due to over or under-convergence, and there may be vertical or horizontal alignment problems that cause the aim of the eyes to be incorrect.

Since the visual system is integrated with the vestibular system or sense of balance, Balametrics has developed products and activities that stimulate balance while also integrating the visual system to improve binocular teaming and visual processing.

Proprioception

The brain constantly engages in a process designed to position our bodies based upon the information it receives from our senses. This ability is made possible because of the existence of proprioceptive processes. Proprioception can be explained as the awareness of movement and body position. Sometimes proprioception is defined as the body’s joint positioning system. Effective proprioceptive processes are dependant upon the ability of the brain to integrate information from all of the sensory systems including feedback from muscles, joints, vision, the tactile sense (touch/pressure) and the sense of balance or vestibular system.

Joint stabilization is the ability of muscles that have been appropriately activated to stabilize a joint. The process of joint stabilization/joint positioning is critical to athletic performance and injury prevention. Often times an athlete who has suffered multiple ankle injuries will assume that he or she has ‘weak’ ankles. This may not be the case considering the fact that the athlete is probably in excellent physical shape. The more likely scenario is that the joint positioning systems (proprioceptive processes) that the brain uses are not positioning the joint properly in the midst of athletic movements. Over time, this poor joint positioning will lead to injury. By improving the brain’s ability to integrate all the information being received from the various senses and formulate appropriate movement responses the chances of poor joint positioning and injury are reduced.

Balance activities that integrate the visual, auditory, kinesthetic, tactile, and vestibular senses have the effect of improving the proprioceptive processes that help to reduce injuries and improve performance. These improvements can be realized because sensory integration activities increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the neural processes in the brain. As neural capability and efficiency increases, a variety of other benefits are realized. Timing improves, vision improves, sense of balance improves, mental processing improves, reaction time improves, proprioception improves. In short, athletic performance improves.

Because balance therapy is so foundational to efficient brain processing, activities that improve brain processing will improve performance in both academics and athletics. This is important for the student athlete or coach because Balametrics provides a program that will improve academic success and athletic performance at the same time.

Copyright © 1980-2004 by Balametrics, Inc.