Sensory Integration (Part 5) The Proprioceptive System


The proprioceptive system has an influence on:

  • Visual discrimination
  • Tactile system
  • Vestibular system
  • Motor control
  • Motor planning
  • Sequencing of movements
  • Grading of movement (force, speed and timing)
  • Postural stability
  • Emotional security
  • Body awareness
  • Alignment of body parts


This system, like the vestibular system, is automatic and not part of our conscious awareness. 

Bundy says that proprioception informs us about:

  • The body’s and/or body parts’ orientation
  • The rate and timing of movements
  • The amount of force our muscles are exerting
  • How much and how fast our muscles are stretching

We get feedback regarding our location in space and our movement via three systems:

  • Proprioceptors in the tendons, joints, ligaments, muscles and skin
  • The proprioceptors measures the length, pressure and tension in the muscles
  • Golgi tendon organ.  This is found where the tendon meets the muscle.
  • Sensory neurons.  These are located in the inner ear.

Input is sent to the brain and messages are then sent back to the muscle to adjust to maintain posture or facilitate movement.

Modulation and arousal

Types of modulation difficulties:  over-responsive, under-responsive and sensory seeking behaviour.


  • Doesn’t want to move
  • Doesn’t want to be passively moved
  • Avoids weight-bearing activities
  • Is a picky eater


  • Has low muscle tone
  • Breaks objects easily
  • Holds pencils too tightly
  • Presses hard on the paper, with the pencil, while drawing or writing
  • Will let objects fall while holding them
  • Picks up objects with more force/less force than necessary
  • Has difficulty holding/lifting two objects when they are not the same weight
  • Untidy/messy writing
  • Breaks delicate objects/objects that require simple manipulation thus breaks toys

Sensory-seeking behaviour

  • Deliberately bumps and crashes into objects and people
  • Stamps/slaps her feet while walking
  • While sitting she will kick his feet against the floor or his chair
  • Head-banging
  • Sucks on objects
  • Bites on objects
  • Cracks knuckles
  • Chews on objects
  • Loves being tightly tucked-in at bed time
  • Prefers clothes and accessories to be tight
  • Bangs objects
  • Loves tackling and wrestling games
  • Grinds teeth
  • Enjoys pushing, pulling and dragging objects
  • Loves jumping from high places

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