Parent Overview of Astronaut Training: A Sound Activated Vestibular-Visual Protocol For Moving, Looking, and Listening
Astronaut Training is a precise, powerful, therapeutic protocol that is designed to to develop optimal vestibular function, an essential foundation for all sensory processing and movement control. This protocol is administered by occupational and physical therapists that have received advanced education (certification) through Vital Links, Inc.
In addition to our 5 basic senses, we have special vestibular sensors in our inner ear that tell us exactly where we are in space as well the orientation of our head as we look, listen and move. The vestibular system is similar to a gyroscope on a space ship, keeping us informed at all times regarding where we are in time and space and accurately detection how, when, and where our body moves. The vestibular system is also responsible for balancing and modulating all of the various types of sensation, including vision and hearing, so as to enhance learning and memory.
Our vestibular system informs our muscle sensors (proprioceptors) to support balance and alignment as we move through space. Any movement of our head while walking, running, rolling, tumbling, swinging, jumping, twirling, and gesturing “yes” or “no” is registered by our vestibular system so as to signal the muscles in our body to make an adaptive response in our dynamic, ever changing world.
Our vestibular system centers and grounds our body so we know exactly where we are and which way is up, even when we are upside down and the world looks upside down. It informs us when moving in a circle, in a straight line, losing our balance, falling, or flying through the air. It tells us how far, how fast, and in which direction we are moving so that we get to the right place at the perfect time. It tells us whether one body part is moving relative to another body part or whether we are being moved by something in our world. When our movement detectors are not working properly we literally become lost in space and may fall off our chair, be afraid to climb a tree, trip and fall, bump into people and walls, be fearful of crowded places, resist change, avoid playing sports or riding a bicycle.
The vestibular system works like a tripod for a camera, helping us to keep our eyes steady on a target, to help align our ears with the sound source and to interpret the spatial sounds that tell us about the space that we are in. Without good vestibular function our eyes and ears cannot participate efficiently in school tasks such as copying from the blackboard, listening, reading, writing, and catching or kicking a ball.
One of the primary reasons why our vestibular system is unable do its job effectively is because it has become “shut down” from ear infections, high fevers, allergies, head trauma, restricted movement, etc. Specific linear and rotary activation with the Astronaut Protocol will insure that our vestibular system can support efficient and effective movement for the development of social and play skills and to enhance learning and memory. Movement is key to all aspects of life. When there is no movement, the brain literally goes to sleep.
Helping parents understand Astronaut Training
We do our best to help parents by including answers to common questions about Astronaut Training as a tool. However, if you have unanswered questions, please contact your occupational therapist who can best assist you.