Proprioception Essay

Words: 2418
Pages: 10


Proprioception is the sense that gives us our awareness of the relative positions of the different parts of our bodies. The system has sensors within joints, muscles and skin which relays information to the brain about joint angles and skin and muscle stretch. Its role is to act as the start point of any sequence of movement as without information about where we are now we could not format the instructions for moving to where we want to move to. Rather like asking a GPS system to guide you to London but you are unable to tell it where you are now... an impossible request. The loss of proprioception is devastating causing an inability to control limbs in space and therefore an inability to instruct them to move under any level of
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Although it can manage without t works much better in tandem – for example standing on one foot is a lot easier with our eyes open and set on a fixed point rather then when we close our eyes. This theory is supported by what can happen when one losses ones sense of proprioception.

The loss of proprioception is called neuropathy, a degeneration of just the sensory neurons from the muscles and skin, motor neurons are unaffected but because of the lack of information about the current position of muscles and limbs it is impossible for the sufferer to plan a course of action that will enable controlled movement of his limbs. A well known case of this was that of Charles Freed (Horizon 1997) who although at first totally debilitated realised that as his motor neurons were unaffected he should be able to gain wilful control over them as long as his eyes could tell him the current position of his limbs. After many painstaking months he was able to walk again and regained fine motor movement such as typing and gesturing. His movement could only ever be controlled if he could see his whole body and experiments showed that if for example he was shielded from seeing his hands that his gestures became loose and uncontrolled. I have experienced temporary loss of proprioception myself when having a spinal block for a caesarean operation. The anaesthetic was applied whilst I lay on my side in the foetal position with my knees drawn up. When they