The Learning Breakthrough Program™
A progressive set of movement activities performed on specialised equipment.
It is designed to improve the way the brain processes the sensory information it receives from the outside world and inside the body.
This improved efficiency allows us to concentrate, read, write, speak, hear and better control physical movement as well as develop attention skills.
Each activity is performed on a Belgau Balance Board for improved vestibular training. It is a very organised and easy to use programme of balance, sensory processing and sensory integration activities.
Balance as the central component
In order to understand why the Learning Breakthrough Program™ focuses so much on balance stimulation, one must understand the central role that balance (vestibular system) plays in the biological functioning of all of the brain's activity. As a child grows in the womb, the vestibular system becomes the first set of structures and "sense" to develop and then serves as the fundamental organisational tool for the development of all the other brain processes.
The vestibular system gets its raw information from the vestibular organs, which consist of three semicircular canals and the otolith organ. The three semicircular canals are oriented along the x, y, and z axes, and define motion on each of the three dimensions of space. When the head moves, hair cells detect the motion of the fluids inside each canal. The brain uses this information to calculate changes in inertia, in much the same way that the inertial navigation system on an airliner senses changes in position and velocity. The otolith organ uses a pendulum-like appendage, the utricle, to orient the sense to the vertical force of gravity.
Because the vestibular system combines the inertial information from the three semi-circular canals with the gravitational orientation provided by the otolith organ, it is the basis of our inertial gravitational model of the world that is, our model of the world as three-dimensional space with a clear sense of up and down. As a child continues to develop in the womb, the other major brain systems motor, tactile, auditory, and visual also develop, but they develop in relation to the vestibular system, or sense of balance.
Because the vestibular system plays such a key role in the foundations of perception, subtle balance problems can cause many, seemingly unrelated, problems in brain function.
Human beings are generally described as having five senses, but live in one world. In order to form a complete and accurate picture of the world around us, we need to integrate the information from all of our senses so that we can match the sound of a jet engine with the small silver streak overhead, or small round object we feel with our hands with the tennis ball we see with our eyes.
Our three-dimensional model of the world provides the framework into which all other sensory data must be integrated. Because the vestibular system is the basis of this three-dimensional model, our effectiveness in communicating information accurately between the senses and to the brain is limited by the precision of the vestibular system.
The Learning Breakthrough Program helps people improve cognitive function by improving the way information is transmitted between different sensory centres in the brain all of which rely fundamentally on the sense of balance. This is the reason that all programme activities take place on our specially designed balance board.
The brain constantly engages in a process designed to position the body based on the information it receives from our senses. This ability is made possible because of the existence of proprioceptive processes. Proprioception can be explained as the awareness of movement and body position. Sometimes it is also defined as the body's joint and muscle positioning system. Effective proprioceptive processes are dependent upon the ability of the brain to integrate information from all of the sensory systems including feedback from muscles, joints, vision, the tactile sense (touch/pressure) and the sense of balance (vestibular system).
Joint stabilisation is the ability of muscles that have been appropriately activated to stabilise a joint. The process of joint stabilisation/joint positioning is critical to athletic performance and injury prevention. Often an athlete who has suffered multiple ankle injuries will assume that he or she has weak ankles. This may not be the case, particularly in the case of those in excellent physical shape. The more likely scenario is that the joint positioning systems (proprioceptive processes) that the brain uses are not positioning the joint properly in the midst of athletic movements. Over time this poor joint positioning may lead to injury. By improving the brain's ability to integrate all the information being received from the various senses and formulate appropriate movement responses the chances of poor joint positioning and injury are reduced.
Balance activities that integrate the visual, auditory, kinaesthetic, tactile and vestibular senses have the effect of improving the proprioceptive processes that help to reduce injuries and improve performance. These improvements can be realised because sensory integration activities increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the neural processes in the brain. As neural capability and efficiency increases, a variety of other benefits are realised. Timing improves, vision improves, sense of balance improves, mental processing improves, reaction time improves, and proprioception improves. In short, athletic performance improves.
Because balance therapy is so foundational to efficient brain processing, balance activities that improve brain processing lead to significantly improved performance in both academics and athletics. This is obviously of great importance for student athletes as the Learning Breakthrough Program provides a system that improves academic success and athletic performance at the same time.