We recently talked about using eye masks to work on balance in one of our instagram stories. Here is the you tube video of that story:
We have three systems that help us to maintain our balance: Vision, Vestibular, and Proprioceptive. We go into more detail about these systems in this post.
Why would we want to talk about vision and balance? For kids that rely a lot on their visual system can have more trouble maintaining their balance when they are distracted. This can happen in a new environment, a busy environment, someplace where there may be a lot of noise or even very specific noises that can be distracting. Basically, anytime they aren’t looking at what they are doing and where they are going, they have a harder time reacting to input that challenges their balance. This is because they are forced to rely on their vestibular and proprioceptive system more but they are so used to their vision giving them most of the information that the other two systems don’t talk loud enough to be heard. So, by taking vision out in controlled ways, you are putting the vestibular and proprioceptive systems on a work out and making sure they clean up their communication channels with the brain and with the brain back to the body. After all, all three are meant to work together, not let vision do all the work!
We had previously talked about some ways to take vision out of balance before. But we thought we would give more specific ideas this time!
A lot of these are going to depend on what your child is able to do so that they are being challenged but staying safe.
You can practice first (or a few times) without the eye mask and then put the eye mask on. Make up fun character stories to make it more engaging also!
- Playing catch – use a larger lighter ball to bounce or toss back and forth (if catching is too challenging then just do tossing and have the partner bring the ball back each time)
- Reaching – standing on a spot (or an airex type pad or balance board to make it more challenging) have a partner hand you bean bags or other small objects that you can then try to throw at a target and see how accurate you are without your vision. What would be really fun is one of the velcro dart boards
- Walking in a line – this can be a balance beam if you want to be really challenging or just down the hallway for a much larger ‘line’
- Walking across a room – simple would be on the floor without any obstacles, but if you want to make it a little more challenging we like to use yoga mats to make a more uneven surface to walk on, you can also make a path of pillows or cushions.
- Jumping – make a path of spots and jump or hop across them, or just start with jumping one time or two times, or maybe jumping in different directions like forward/backward/left/right
- Standing on one foot – have a competition to see how long you can stand on one foot on each side with and without the eye mask
- Sitting – you could do any of the throwing and reaching activities while sitting down. This can be on a bench/chair which is more stable or on a therapy ball.
- Adventure – you are starting at point A and need to make it point B (at which point you get to do a preferred activity) and to get there you need to listen to your partner give verbal directions such as ‘take 4 steps forward’, ‘turn to the right’.
What are some other activities you have tried?
Here are links to some of the cute eye masks we’ve seen: