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Episode 120: Sensory Mismatch

Video Highlights

- The 3 Primary Movement Systems.
- Impact of event subtle issues.
- The value of good sensory integration.

Hi, I’d like to take a few minutes to explain to you one of the unique parameters that we utilize at Z-Health Performance to first of all get people out of pain, but also help athletes optimize their performance.

What we’re going to talk about is something on sensory integration and also sensory mismatch. The concept here is that there are three primary governing systems in our body with regards to the nervous system.

We have the visual system, we have the vestibular system; which is your inner ear or on board balance system, and then we have your movement system. All of these guys live in different parts in different areas of the brain but most of all, they integrate and they have to basically share information.

Now the way that this works is very intriguing and what I’m going to do is put a little diagram up here and take you through an example that you might see or might have experienced personally.

The three systems that I talked about, I’m going to put just like this. We have the visual system, we have the vestibular system and remember that is your balance or inner ear system, and then we have what’s called the proprioceptive system. I’m going to put movement underneath that because really that’s what these three guys do.

You have vision, vestibular, proprioception and as I said, these systems working together help you move through the world safely. You can see that all of these guys interact as well, right? Just in the drawing. Now let me show you what often times occurs in people unbeknownst to them.

What we’re going to envision is that we have a child. Child’s born, growing up normally, going to school, etc. Hopefully you’re familiar with eye measures meaning you go to your eye doctor very often, you hear “Hey you have great vision. You have 20/20 vision.” Most people consider 20/20 vision to be excellent vision or at least normal vision for your age.

Other measures, we’re going to now say that my right eye, this is the right eye here is 20/20. Let’s say the left eye isn’t working as well. That might wind up with a rating of 20/80. That means that this left eye is quite a bit more blurry, I have less acuity at certain distances.

What’s interesting about this particular set up is like I said, let’s say we got a child’s 8, 9, 10 years old going through school, because they already have a really good right eye it’s highly unlikely that they notice that there’s any deficit in their vision.

With that in mind, let me explain some stuff that might occur. If we have one really good eye and one eye, in some cases what could happen, is this eye that’s a little blurry, the brain can begin to shut that image off. That is something called suppression.

In essence what will happen is that in certain situations, this child’s brain will basically just discard that image because each eye takes in an image. We tell people their kind of like lens of a camera, each one. This one’s nice and clear and this one over here has Vaseline or something on the lens.

Your brains job is to take both those images and merge them into one and create this nice, clean, crisp 3-dimensional image by that integration. What happens if this is one gets dumped? Now all of a sudden you got a child that’s going through life thinking that they’re using both eyes all the time but they’re not.

In fact, this particular individual may begin to do something like this. If I’m looking directly at the camera, if this eye isn’t working very well and my right eye becomes very, very dominant because I trust it to give me information about the environment I may begin to do this. Which means that my eyes, my dominant eye, is turning toward the mid line.

This is something we see very commonly. Now if I spend most of my waking, adult existence this way, eventually that’s going to manifest in different postural distortions, maybe curvatures and rotations in my spine, different tensions in my muscles, etc.

The reason that I’m showing you this, this is a basic example of a sensory mismatch where the eyes aren’t telling the brain the same thing. A result of that is we get a movement problem, we will wind up with a low grade movement disorder that may eventually manifest in pain, some kind of performance decrement.

We tell people that if you’re going to be a great movement coach or you’re going to be a great athlete, either one, you’re job is to first of all analyze and assess all three systems separately. Then you have to figure out, are they integrating well? If they’re not integrating well, that has to be remedied through specific drills and skill building exercises.

As I said, this is an example, a very basic example of sensory mismatch. To illustrate the point a little bit more, what we’re going to do is we’re going to  intentionally create a sensory mismatch in somebody just so you can get an idea of what this looks like.

I’m going to have Shannon come out and we’re going to utilize these goggles. Now what these goggles do, is they actually do exactly this. They create a mismatch between his eyes and his inner ear. What I’m going to do is I’m going to have Shannon face the camera.

All right, now what I want you guys to look at is just his head position, shoulder position, etc. Now I’m going to have him put these guys on. I’m going to have him face the camera. Now what you probably see right away is that his head turned to the left, his body turned to the left and he feels as if he’s facing you.

Now the issue with this, this is being created artificially because of a prism within the goggles, but do you think that might impact on his movement? Of course it would. If I had him take a walk, normally what … Go ahead and try to walk to the camera. Don’t hurt it, stop. Good and come back. Walk back toward me. Back to where you were. Go ahead and face them.

Now we always like to use these in our courses just because they are very demonstrative. Now the issue that you’re seeing is as I said, because he’s now getting a huge mismatch between what his eyes are telling him, what his inner ear is telling him.

His movement system, number 3 here, is paying the price. You see he’s unsteady, he’s unsure and this is how a lot of people go through their life. Although it’s on a milder scale because of ongoing sensory mismatch. As you can imagine, if someone moved like that all day, every day, is a high likelihood that they would hate moving, they would be fatigued all the time, they’d be in pain.

In the Z-Health Performance system, like I said, we start with this as a basic concept and then we begin to expand it because a great athlete … Go ahead and take those off. Ultimately a great athlete is the complete inverse of this.

There’s not only no mismatch, there’s actually fantastic integration. Our goal in everything that we do is to take people from this, this mismatch perspective, into full and complete integration.

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