The vestibular apparatus is bound to the Latin word “vestibulum” (translated as “vestibule”), because it is located on the verge of the inner ear and is part of it, often called a labyrinth. It is a complex system consisting of three semicircular canals, which are in approximately perpendicular planes, which allows the body to respond to tilts in all directions. The vestibular labyrinth is partially filled with a jelly-like endolymph covering its sensitive villi.
During our movements, under the action of gravity, the endolymph and the calcareous stones (otoliths) floating in it crush these or other villi, and information about changes in body position is transmitted to the brain. In a split second, after processing the data, the brain gives an “instruction” to change the location and tension of the muscles of the neck, torso, arms and legs, so that we can maintain balance in any situation.
Sensitively reacting to the gravitational field of the Earth, this complex system allows us to navigate in space and maintain the balance of the body even with closed eyes. That is why it is necessary to train the vestibular apparatus from infancy.
The first signs of maturation of the vestibular analyzer appear already in the fourth month of pregnancy. On ultrasound, it can be seen how the muscles of the limbs, neck and torso reflexively contract in response to a change in posture of the future baby.
Newborns can observe a number of vestibular reflexes. One of them is the so-called Moro automatism.
In response to a sharp shake or unexpected noise, the baby sharply throws the handles apart and spreads his fingers. Starting from the second month of life, the child begins to hold his head.
The vestibular system helps to keep the head upright again.
The vestibular apparatus in a child under one year performs other functions. The baby learns to turn, sit down, crawl, manipulate toys. Gradually, his body assumes an upright position, the child takes the first steps, begins to run, masters jumps.
And again, mastering these rather complex skills is impossible without proper formation of the vestibular apparatus. After all, it allows him to coordinate the movement, not to fall on his back, not to fall on his side and move in the right direction.
Due to vestibular failures, the child may complain of dizziness, his orientation in space may be disturbed. A wobbly walk in a child over three years old is also a symptom of trouble.
If the listed symptoms appear in a child at rest or with minimal vestibular loads (for example, after a short swing on a normal swing) and even more so if they are persistent, you should contact a neurologist and an otolaryngologist. To make a diagnosis, a child may be assigned additional studies.
For example, otoscopy (examination of the external auditory canal and eardrum), and it happens that computed tomography of the temporal bone and magnetic resonance imaging of the brain. This is necessary to exclude serious violations of the cerebellum (it also regulates coordination).
But in most cases, vestibular malfunctions are limited to “seasickness” or motion sickness in transport. In this case, persistent training will help to get rid of unpleasant symptoms.
For the baby, waving from side to side on the mother’s arms is suitable, a little more intense than usual. With a baby in her arms it is also useful to slowly spin the waltz, gradually speeding up the pace. 2-3 turns in each direction are enough.
As soon as the baby learns to keep his head, with it you can “fly” around the room, holding his legs with one hand and supporting his chest with the other. From about 4 months, start exercising on an inflatable special ball – a fitball.
The first lesson lasts only 1 minute, then the duration gradually increases. Put the baby’s tummy on a well-inflated ball and, pressing it to the ball, swing the fitball left-right, back and forth, and twist around the axis.
Closer to the year, swing the crumb on a swing and in a hammock, an older child – ride on any type of merry-go-round. You can use the rotating circle of the “grace” type. Put a 1-1.5 year old child on it and, holding by the hand, roll it first to one side and then to the other side.
Speed and speed must be increased gradually.
The child can train the vestibular system well in any entertainment center where there is a trampoline. Also, climbing the rope ladder, jumping rope, jumping on one and two legs, running with obstacles will also benefit the vestibular system.
The vestibular apparatus loves tempering procedures, active games and movement: somersaults, swinging on a swing, rocking in a hammock and rocking chair. Sour-tasting foods contribute to the stabilization of the vestibular system, so if a child begins to tinkle in transport, you can give him a slice of lemon. But overeating, head and neck injuries, constant wearing of headphones and a prolonged load on the eyes do not benefit the vestibular apparatus.
Loud sounds of more than 100 dB are also harmful for him. They strongly irritate the microscopic villi with which it is littered.