Our vestibular system is amazing. So many people don’t even know what they do until it isn’t working – like when someone has vertigo, when even getting out of bed becomes impossible.
Most people have no idea how important it is and how much it influences everyday life.
The vestibular system is located in the inner ear, near the cochlea (the hearing organ of the ear). It tells us about how our head is moving through space. It can tell us about exactly how our head moves, detecting movement in any plane. It tells us if we are still, speeding up or slowing down, .and if we are moving in circular movements of straighter lines.
The vestibular system does and detects gravity. It tells us which way is up and which ways is down. The information from the vestibular system is used by the brain to inform all kinds of things, from helps us balance, supporting our and helping us keep images we look at stable, a skill we need for reading and driving! When it doesn’t work well we can have subtle problems or some that are more impact; making it hard to stand or sit up straight, know when we are or are not moving, keep objects in the distance still, even if we are driving, moving or jumping about.
You can read this great explanation of the vestibular system and how it works to help; at OT toolbox.
Check out this amazing video made by Astronaut Tim Peake during his time on the international space station, where he experiments with how the vestibular system is affected when in microgravity.
Tim’s brain has adapted to his environment so that the messages from his vestibular system no longer make him feel dizzy or sick.
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