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Proprioception Impairment Treatment In Portland Maine

Proprioception tells us about the force of our movements, too. So if you want to reach over and pick up your coffee cup, you unconscously judge how much force and speed you are reaching with so you can accurately get your hand to the cup without knocking it over or missing it. You can also tell how hard you need to hold on to lift your cup without shattering it in your hand or dropping it.
Proprioception is critical to the enjoyment of your morning coffee! ☕️

This one example illustrates just how crucial proprioception is to functioning in daily life. Your proprioception is a continous feedback loop within your nervous system that has been building your inner "body map" since the early days in the womb when you began kicking against your mother's stomach!
Proprioceptive impairment can make life extremely difficult: frustrating, chaotic and dangerous. Mild proprioceptive disorder may go unnoticed for awhile before symptoms become more glaring over time.

The best outcomes for treatment are when there is early diagnosis and a team approach to treatment that involves your doctor, physical, occupational and speech therapy.

Symptoms To Watch Out For

A proprioception disorder or injury could cause a number of signs and symptoms, including:
  • balance issues, such as having trouble standing on one foot or frequent falls while walking or sitting

  • uncoordinated movement, such as not being able to walk in a straight line

  • clumsiness, such as dropping or bumping into things

  • poor postural control, such as slouching or having to place extra weight on a table for balance while sitting

  • trouble recognizing your own strength, such as pressing on a pen too hard when writing or not being able to gauge the force needed to pick something up

  • avoiding certain movements or activities, such as climbing stairs or walking on uneven surfaces because of a fear of falling


Causes Of Proprioceptive Disorder

Proprioception dysfunction can be caused by injuries, illness and disorders that affect any part of the proprioceptive system between the sensory receptors that send the signals to the parts of the brain that receive and interpret them.

Examples of injuries and conditions that can cause proprioceptive deficit include:

  • traumatic brain injury (TBI)/concussion

  • herniated disc

  • arthritis

  • multiple sclerosis (MS)

  • stroke

  • diabetes

  • peripheral neuropathy

  • Parkinson’s disease

  • Huntington’s disease

  • ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) aka Lou Gehrig’s disease

  • joint injury - sprains

  • hip replacement or knee replacement surgery

  • Parkinson’s disease


The risk of impaired proprioception increases with age due to a combination of natural age-related changes to the nerves, joints, and muscles. Proprioceptive impairment is a significant fall risk and falls injured 28% of Maine adults over the age of 65 in 2021. Falls are a leading cause of death for people over the age of 75.

Impairment should be evaluated at onset of symptoms to help reduce the long-term physical impact, to regain strength and balance, to learn compensatory strategies and avoid the anxiety and depression that often accompanies this significant decline.
TREATMENT Treatment begins with an evaluation for proprioceptive impairment. The treatment approach depends on the underlying cause, which may require treating a medical condition or injury. A Plan Of Care (POC) will be written and explained. Doctors and therapists collaborate on care.

Along with treating any underlying condition, appropriate proprioception treatment also involves other therapies and exercises to gain strength and improve balance & coordination.

Proprioception therapy can also be used as a preventive measure to reduce the risk of injuries such as falls, fractures and sprains.

Treatments options include:
  • physical therapy: which can correspond to any underlying condition and involves exercises to improve motor skills, strength, and balance

  • occupational therapy: neuroreeducation, strengthening, stretching, therapy to remediate the underlying conditions, retraining to learn how to manage daily tasks (ADLs) and compensatory strategies while living with proprioception dysfunction

  • speech therapy: sensory integration therapy for sensory processing disorders

  • acupuncture: restore motor and somatic sensory function

  • somatosensory stimulation training: vibration therapy

  • tai chi: improves lower limb proprioception, eases anxiety, relieves stress

  • yoga: improves balance, muscle strength and tone, breathwork

If you're concerned that you or a loved one might be suffering from impaired proprioception, let your doctor know right away and call us to schedule an evaluation. We will have your appointment scheduled within 24 hours and we can even come to you for personalized care in the comfort, convenience and privacy of your own home.

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