Postural Control

One of the questions that I am asked by parents from time to time pertains to the inability of their baby to move. The issue may be that the baby has not been able to develop Postural Control or Balance.

Postural control is the mechanism by which the human body prevents itself from falling. It is a complex task and is controlled by the Central Nervous System. The systems involved need to predict changes in the environment on posture and have to counteract mechanical disturbances.

Balance was not needed while the fetus was floating in the amniotic fluid during pregnancy however at birth the newborn is exposed to external forces mainly through the force of gravity. The control of movement in space is a complex task because the human body is built with many moving parts, the centre of mass or centre of gravity (the point that the entire mass of a body may be considered concentrated) is high, and we stand on a small base of support.

Dancers, tight-rope walkers are examples of how the human body compensates for changes in the center of gravity to maintain balance. The development of postural control is a long term process and lasts until adolescence. Babies and children with disorders of the developing brain, with hypotonia, syndromes, cerebral palsy, and developmental delay have dysfunctions in postural control making it difficult for them to move, many of them will spend much time crawling on their tummies.

In summary postural control develops with the maturation of the nervous system. Some children need help to gain balance and be able to move in space.


base of support

In the womb

newborn

keeping balanced

I hope you find this helpful. If you have questions please do not hesitate to contact me at fink@sympatico.ca or call 905 886 0272

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