Encyclopedia of Family Health - Vol. 3

By David B. Jacoby; Robert M. Youngson | Go to book overview

Coordination

Questions and Answers

My son has suddenly become very
clumsy. Will he grow out of this?

A child’s lack of coordination can
happen for various reasons. At
different stages of growing up,
such as at the start of puberty,
children may seem more clumsy
because they are not concentrating
as well; any emotional upset will
have the same effect. However, if
the clumsiness has occurred out of
the blue, it would be worthwhile
to consult your doctor.

My uncle has recently lost an eye.
Will this affect his coordination?

Probably not. Each of the two
visual centers in the brain receives
information from both eyes, so
the loss of one eye does not affect
someone as badly as the loss of
one field of vision (that is, the left
or right half of each eye’s sight).
The brain can also compensate for
the loss of vision in one eye.
However, if the visual centers are
damaged through a stroke, and
half of the visual field is lost, then
a person will have difficulty in
judging distances, particularly
gaps such as doorways, thus
appearing to be clumsy or lacking
in coordination.

I know a man who always staggers
around as if he were drunk. Could
this be because of an ear disease?

The inner ear has mechanisms
that provide information about
the position of the head, which is
essential for equilibrium and
balance. In old age these often
become defective, but in younger
people disease of the inner ear
rarely occurs. Disease may cause
symptoms such as unsteadiness of
the limbs or vertigo (a spinning
sensation), since the brain is
receiving the wrong signals about
the orientation of the head. A
similar effect occurs when a
person is spun around rapidly for
several seconds.

Why do some people seem to be natural athletes, dancers, or gymnasts,
while others seem to be less gifted? The answer lies in the complicated
processes of coordination that begin in the brain
.

The supple movements of a champion gymnast reveal, in their flowing patterns, how delicately the human brain can control the hundreds of muscles in the torso and limbs. To achieve such intricate sequences of action, the human brain has evolved a complex system of control and guidance that makes even the most sophisticated computers look primitive.

Babies are born with many reflexes (muscular responses that occur without conscious thought). To visualize these reflex actions in an adult, imagine how quickly a person would withdraw his or her hand from a hot saucepan. The movements that are directed by the brain (voluntary movements) are superimposed onto these simple reflex actions. For every action that is performed, some muscles contract, others relax, and still more maintain their contraction to stabilize the rest of the body. The process by which all the individual muscle contractions are carefully synchronized to produce a smooth order of activity is called coordination.


How coordination works

To understand this process, consider an everyday action such as leaning over a table to pick up a cup of coffee. How does the brain direct this apparently simple task? Before someone can pick up a cup of coffee, a series of events must happen.

First the person must know where the cup and his or her hand are and the relationship between them. This means that the brain must be able to generate a “map” of the space for necessary movement to be planned. This is called spatial perception. The brain must then interpret this internal “map” of the outside world so that the problem of getting the coffee cup from the table to the hand can be solved. It must then generate a plan of action that can be translated into a detailed set of instructions to the muscles so that they will contract in the right order.

During the movement, started by the planning parts of the brain (the premotor area), continuous streams of information pour in from all the sensors (nerves) in the muscles and joints. This information, which has to be organized and relayed back to the brain, describes the positions of the muscles and joints as well as their states of contraction.

In order to move the hand to pick up the cup of coffee, the person also needs to lean slightly toward it, and this alters the center of gravity of the body (see Balance). All the reflex balance mechanisms must be controlled to ensure that the correct changes in muscle tone are made, allowing the movement across the table that the brain has ordered. This means that the background tone of many other muscles has to be monitored and coordinated.


First stages of coordination

All intentional movements need to be practiced before they become coordinated. Even such ordinary actions as walking are

A game such as golf requires a great deal
of coordination between the hands and eyes
.

-414-

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Encyclopedia of Family Health - Vol. 3
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • Bronchitis 294
  • Brucellosis 297
  • Bruises 298
  • Bunions 299
  • Burn Center 301
  • Burns 303
  • Burping 306
  • Bursitis 307
  • Calcium 310
  • Cancer 312
  • Capillaries 318
  • Cardiac Massage 320
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome 322
  • Cartilage 324
  • Cataracts 326
  • Celiac Disease 329
  • Cells and Chromosomes 330
  • Cellular Telephones 333
  • Cerebral Palsy 335
  • Cervix and Cervical Smears 337
  • Cesarean Birth 340
  • Chat Room 343
  • Chelation Therapy 345
  • Chest 347
  • Chicken Pox 349
  • Child Abuse 351
  • Child Development 354
  • Chinese Medicine 358
  • Chiropractic 362
  • Cholera 365
  • Cholesterol 366
  • Chorionic Villus Sampling 367
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome 369
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 370
  • Circulatory System 372
  • Circumcision 374
  • Cirrhosis 375
  • Cleft Palate 376
  • Cloning 377
  • Clubfoot 379
  • Cocaine and Crack 380
  • Cold Sores 382
  • Colon and Colitis 383
  • Colonic Irrigation 384
  • Colonoscopy 386
  • Color Blindness 388
  • Color Therapy 390
  • Colostomy 392
  • Coma 394
  • Common Cold 396
  • Complexes and Compulsions 397
  • Conception 399
  • Congenital Disorders 401
  • Conjunctivitis 403
  • Constipation 404
  • Contact Lenses 406
  • Contraception 407
  • Convalescence 412
  • Convulsions 413
  • Coordination 414
  • Cornea 416
  • Corns 417
  • Coronary Arteries and Thrombosis 419
  • Cosmetics 422
  • Cosmetic Surgery 424
  • Coughing 426
  • Cough Syrup 427
  • Counseling 428
  • Index 431
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