In order to keep its balance, a child that gets no vestibular information must strengthen the other two sensory inputs:
- the eyes – search for fixed orientation points to stabilise the eyes and the body
- the proprioception – search for stable and reassuring support.
As a parent you can help your child by:
- regularly having its eyes checked. If necessary, correction of the eyes with glasses is really important. Optimum eyesight is crucial, so the child can trust on this to stabilise its body.
- providing proper lighting and avoid complete darkness.
- strengthening its visual references of vertical and horizontal lines or planes in its surroundings. It is difficult for the child to feel in its body what is vertical, up, down, front or rear. By visually and artificially structuring its space it can easier accept instructions and integrate its own position and movements. For example, with lines on the walls in contrasting colours, posters, dark door and window contours and a large mirror.
- avoiding irregularities in the floor (carpet, rugs).
- stimulating the child to look at fixed orientation points when changing its position. Slow down your own movements, enabling the child to anticipate movement and not being carried away by the overwhelming visual movements in its surroundings. While moving (swings, rotations, turns) the child loses its position. It does not have time to fix its eyes. What it sees, swings too fast.
- capturing the eyes of the toddler before you start rocking it or lift it up in your arms. This gives the child a reference point before it starts moving.
- Give an older child the space and time to explore the surroundings inside and/or outside before it can move freely and starts playing.
- placing good furniture in the house. The child continuously tries to control the stability of its body and this is at the expense of the attention it has to pay to listening, looking and learning. Provide proper support for the back and the head. If necessary, provide a tailor-made table and chair. Chair with arm rests and a foot rest on the floor. The feet should always have support from the floor.
- bringing yourself at the same height with the eyes of the child when talking to it. Firmly support the child on your lap when looking at a picture book or playing a game together.
- making sure that the child can lean against a wall or something when standing up.
The less effort it takes to control its body, the more attention the child can pay to other tasks.
Massages and caresses will help a baby to develop a more pleasant awareness of the various parts of its body. The massage helps the baby to relax and to calm down, but also to carefully mobilise it, enabling it to discover its capabilities to move in a safe environment.
In front of a large mirror you can help your child to name all body parts and the movements that can be made with that in the space: up, down, sidewards, etc.
Let the child walk on bare feet as much as possible, so that it gets a lot of information from the ground. The more the child can practice its motor skills in a safe environment and experiment with this, the more strategies it can develop to spontaneously stabilise its body and eyes.
Obviously, a healthy lifestyle and a varied diet are good for your health as well as for your well-being. Sleeping well and timely taking a rest also provide sufficient energy to be ready for the challenges you are confronted with in daily life. Daily balance exercises help you to relax as well as to strengthen your muscle spindles and the stability of your eyes. There are several apps to do yoga and pilates exercises at home.
In the section ‘Usher in daily life’ you can find (more) tips about, for instance, sports and leisure as well as any adjustments in the house that may help when having balance problems.
No treatment has been found yet for the balance problem that people suffering from User Syndrome are faced with. Usually, vestibular physiotherapy will teach a child to properly walk and ride a bike. Rehabilitation may offer more possibilities that may help you improve your mobility and orientation. For further reading, see ‘Rehabilitation’
Drinking (too) much alcohol leads to balance problems for all people and with people who already have problems with their organs of balance, the alcohol will even increase the dizziness and lack of orientation. Apart from this, there are also medicines that have a negative effect on the organ of balance. Usually these are temporary side effects. If your medicines give you much trouble, please ask your physician for any change of medication. Know what you take and consult the medicine guide.