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January 25, 2018

Proprioceptive hyposensitivity

Dear readers, in that case you’ve been following our blog for some time, you might remember a certain series of articles concerning manifold forms of sensory processing disorder. What does it mean? I simply write about divergences in an evaluation of signals coming to our brain from various senses. I would like to pick up the threads of this series by today’s article. This time, we will together look beneath the surface of little-known, yet no very rare, disorder, proprioceptive hyposensitivity.

The word proprioception stands for a less known sense which ensures the perception of our body and its components in space. That’s the reason why we can for example touch our nose tip with closed eyes; we “sense” where it’s located without the need of seeing it directly. However, the brain of certain people isn’t able to process proprioceptive stimuli in the right way. If it’s our case, then we may suffer from proprioceptive hypersensitivity, which we described in the previous article, or proprioceptive hyposensitivity that we’re going to focus on now.

First of all, let’s outline the main symptoms of this condition to better understand it.

Living as a person hyposensitive towards proprioceptive stimulation practically means we partly or completely lack the natural ability to sense where our body is placed. We are often very awkward and we poorly estimate the distance for this reason. Dressing up can be a huge problem for us, concretely in childhood, because we don’t feel exactly where our limbs are. Then it’s logically more than difficult to hit the hand into the sleeve. Similar troubles can obviously persist in adulthood, even though they usually tend to subside. Since we go through difficulties perceiving where we actually are in the space, we basically constantly experience sensory deprivation to certain degree. In other words, our brain incessantly lacks the information about the position of the compounds of our body towards each other as well as towards its surroundings. This just described deficit of inputs causes us a load of unpleasant feelings which we try to escape from by adding extra proprioceptive experiences. For instance, the tendency to bite our fingernails, to rub our fingers or to compress different parts of the body, all in order to realize properly where e.g. our already mentioned fingers may be, can overtake us. We often enjoy tooth-brushing a lot for it provides us the needed proprioceptive stimulation.  In your childhood years we frequently jump, bump into things on purpose, intentionally fall or chew the end of a pencil, alternatively the edges of sleeves. If our kid suffers from this disorder, they may be able to spend hours and hours jumping on a trampoline; they possibly often engage in a messy play, destroy their toys or they may be unable to assess how much force to use while manipulating with objects. The difficulty in determining how big power we should apply for specific activities, we have as adult too, after all. We frequently break a glass or a dish by an accident. The reason is simple; we just grab it in a wrong way, too tightly or too gently. We also usually struggle to estimate how much pressure to invest into writing or drawing. Then, we write too hard, sometimes to such a degree we even rip the paper or too light that the text is hardly legible. Last but not least, we love bear hugs and tight closing; both significantly help us too feel our body.

Here are some basic sign of our disorder. In that case you’ve find yourself in the majority of them, the real chance you’re living with this condition your whole life exists. They symptoms of proprioceptive hyposensitivity can be annoying, sometimes extremely unpleasant. If we’re struggling with it, it’s substantially beneficial to create our own set of coping strategies that make life easier to us at least a little. Close-fitting clothes have the power to help in our everyday existence. It enables us to feel where our legs, hands and basically all parts of our body are. Remember, tight stockings or undershirts can always be worn under the classic clothing. If we need to boost proprioceptive stimulation inside our mouth, let's buy a bunch of chewing gums and then take them out as soon as we feel the need. Another possible coping strategy can be the purchase of a so-called weighted blanket. It’s actually a common blanket; the only difference consists in its weight. It’s, as the name suggests, much heavier than any regular cover. In addition to the necessary sensory inputs, it alleviate anxiety and reduce sleeping issues very well for certain people.

What to say in conclusion? Be creative in finding your own ways how to ease sensory deprivation. Don’t hesitate at all. Jump on the trampoline and don’t care about your age, if it helps you with your disorder. Everybody has a right to a pleasant life where their needs are fulfilled as much as possible!

Have you found yourself in the signs of proprioceptive hyposensitivity? Do you know somebody showing these symptoms? Have you learnt something new by reading the article? Provide us with your feedback in the comment section bellow. Don’t forget, we’re here for you!

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