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Why the vestibular system is essential to participation in occupation.

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 and even getting out of bed becomes impossible.

I had no idea how important it was or how much it influenced everyday life.

A tiny organ located in the inner ear, near the cochlea (the hearing organ), the vestibular system tells us about how our head is moving through space, it can detect movement in any plane and can distinguish between acceleration, deceleration rotational and linear movement.

On top of all of this, the vestibular system detects gravity. It tells us which way is up and which is down. The information from the vestibular system is used by the brain to inform all kinds of things, from maintaining balance and posture to stabilising our visual field.

This means that we can stand or sit up straight, know when we are moving and that objects in the distance appear to stay still, even if we are driving, moving or jumping about.


A great explanation of the vestibular system and how it works to help.

Read more here 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.

Read more here:

Trigeminal, Visceral and Vestibular Inputs May Improve Cognitive Functions by Acting through the Locus Coeruleus and the Ascending Reticular Activating System: A New Hypothesis.


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