Rajesh K

Postural control in children with sensory processing disorder

Posted On: October 23rd, 2014    Posted By: Rajesh K  To  Therapy

                                   Postural control in children with sensory processing disorder

In order to meet the environmental demands in an effective way, a child must be able to assume and maintain stable positions, move without losing balance and have adequate postural control to support movements of hands and legs. This becomes essential for a child to be competitive and successful at his/her performance areas such as play, home and school.

Postural deficits that are often associated with vestibular and proprioceptive dysfunction include a group of components as follows.

1. Low tone in extensor muscles

2. Poor postural stability

3. Poor co-contraction

4. Poor equilibrium reactions

5. Poor tonic flexion in neck muscles.

Example of poor postural control: A teacher complained about child that each time the child was asked to pick up materials from bag that was placed under the chair, the child had to get up from chair, turn around, sit down to pick up  things and repeat the same procedure to get back to chair. The child lacked the postural control that was required to remain seated and retrieve the materials from the bag. This is a typical example of inadequate postural control.

Home and school behavior:

–          Finds difficulty sitting still

–          Appears clumsy

–          May be lethargic/ lazy or be slow at day to day activities

–          Looses balance and falls often

–          May seem weak due to poor proprioception

–          May seek intense vestibular input yet avoid challenging vestibular activities while on play ground with peers present

–          Drops things often from hand When children exhibit cluster of postural difficulties, they are most likely to have difficulty in processing vestibular and proprioceptive sensation.

Hence intervention should be emphasized on activities that provide enhanced vestibular and proprioceptive sensation that simultaneously challenge posture.

Those activities should address the following 4 components of posture.

–          Postural extension

–          Postural flexion

–          Postural stability

–          Balance

A. Postural extension: Activities given on prone position, i.e., child lying on tummy, gives good effort to extension position. These include,


–          Lying prone on flat swing and do activities like fixing puzzles, dropping coins etc using hands

–          Lying prone on gym ball and reach for toys overhead to allow lifting head and neck against gravity

–          Lying prone on elbows and playing with toys or blowing candles placed in front can be given for kids with low muscle tone

–          Lying prone from a higher surface such as cot or barrel/ bolster and weight bear with hands on floor will allow good co-contraction for shoulder and neck muscles and performing activities using one hand in this position will provide good opportunity for weight shifting.

–          Lying prone on a wedge with neck and arm unsupported to net a ball into a basket overhead is a highly challenging task for developing tonic extension.

–          Activities can be done lying prone on scooter board, hammock or lycra swing

B. Postural flexion: Activities given on supine position, i.e., child lying on back, where head and limbs are aimed at moving towards the abdomen gives good effort to flexion position. These include,

IMG_20141023_084145850 IMG_20141023_090357579

–          Lying supine on an inclined mattress or wedge and raising head and trunk to reach target held by the care giver

–          Lying supine with a little pillow under head and playing kicking ball

–          Lying supine on floor and propelling swing through legs

–          Sitting on a disc swing, hammock or lycra swing and picking up objects from floor

–          Hanging on trapeze to swing and cross over an obstacle

C.  Postural stability: Creating activities with postural rotation and weight shifting helps the child attain postural stability through facilitating mobility superimposed on stability.

IMG_20141023_092349453 IMG_20141023_085817588

–          Rotation can be given through activities such as rolling inside a barrel, swinging at all directions with change in body postures as in reaching for toys overhead and under swing etc

–          Weight shifting can be given using any piece of equipment that move or any activity that involves reaching at various positions such as kneeling, standing, quadruped, one leg standing, squatting, bending etc.  

D. Balance: The ultimate goal of postural control is to maintain body balance when there is a movement threat to the body or support surface. This can be achieved through reaching out from various static postures to elicit subtle equilibrium reactions and progressing to activities that can be performed by placing the child on any unstable equipment such as swing, gym ball, balance board, balance beam, bean bag, spin disc, see saw, etc. Care should be taken that activities to develop balance should progress from static to dynamic postures and should never be a threat to the child.



  1. Srikanth says:

    Great information! Please keep this coming! I discovered this site by chance! Nice to connect!

  2. Smita Dalbehera says:

    A very good/valuable and effective information all together.Looking forward for more such information.
    Recently I visited this center and got lot of hope/motivation/enthusiasm. Hats off to the therapist specially Rajesh sir who are putting lot of effort on kids.