Child & Family Development Child & Family Development

October 19, 2017

What is proprioception?

Posted by: childandfamily

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The occupational therapists at Child and Family Development evaluates and treats kids and teens with sensory processing difficulties.  One area we explore is called proprioception. 

Proprioception is a form of sensory input to the muscles and joints which makes us aware of our position in space (where we are in relation to other objects or people). Proprioceptive input receptors are in the muscles and joints. They give information to the brain about the amount of stretch in each muscle and pressure on each joint. This provides an accurate picture of the body’s position in space without the use of vision.

When the proprioceptive system is not working smoothly, children may choose to seek out proprioceptive input through falling deliberately, being rough with toys or peers, leaning on the wall or others, seeking out deep pressure through squishing or preferring tight clothing. Alternatively, a child may also exhibit decreased registration of proprioceptive input. Behaviors that indicate decreased registration include difficulty appropriately grading force, seeking out deep pressure input, slapping their feet on the ground when walking, or appearing clumsy or uncoordinated.

Proprioceptive input can be used to improve body awareness, increase attention, decrease sensory defensiveness, and modulate arousal level. The input can be provided through activities that cause muscle stretch and joint compressions.

Child-friendly tasks include activities that require muscle use are often called, ‚Äúheavy work activities‚Äù or ‚Äúmuscle work activities‚Äù. These activities including pushing, pulling, lifting, carrying, movement, and deep pressure activities.  Activities are most effective when used throughout the day to help the child maintain a regulated state of arousal. They can also be helpful in moments where the child is having difficulty regulating their energy level and behavior. Each child reacts differently to each of these activities, so it is important to try one and monitor your child‚Äôs reactions. Remember to try activities that your child is interested in!

Contact us to schedule a free phone call with a C&FD occupational therapist.