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.
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.
, and it requires that we can integrate information from all of our senses.
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
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
, 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.
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
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
. 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.
Brain timing is very closely related to integration
between the two hemispheres of the brain
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
, enhanced integration between the two sides of the brain, and more precise brain timing.
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
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.
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.
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
Balametrics has developed products and activities that help to improve brain sequencing.
(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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.