Using Proprioception to Enhance Rehabilitation

August 02, 2023 3 min read

Using Proprioception to Enhance Rehabilitation

What is Proprioception?

Proprioception is the body's ability to detect movement and orientation of joints. It is crucial for everyday activities, especially in sports, where precise motion control is necessary. This coordinated motion is the result of a properly functioning proprioceptive system.

What is the Proprioceptive System?

The proprioceptive system consists of receptor nerves in muscles, joints, and ligaments. These receptors detect tension and stretch, transmitting the information to the brain for processing. The brain then signals muscles to contract or relax, enabling the desired movement.

The system operates at a subconscious level, requiring no conscious thought for movements or corrections. Reactions can occur so quickly that they are considered reflexive.

Following injury to joints and ligaments the receptors are also damaged, which means the information that is usually sent to the brain is impaired. As a consequence the joint feels odd or just doesn’t feel right.



Proprioceptive rehabilitation is a type of therapy that is designed to improve proprioception. This can be done through a variety of exercises, including:

  • Balance exercises: These exercises help to improve the body's ability to maintain balance. Some examples of balance exercises include standing on one leg, tandem walking, and BOSU ball exercises.
  • Joint position sense exercises: These exercises help to improve the body's awareness of the position of its joints. Some examples of joint position sense exercises include moving a joint through its range of motion and identifying the position of the joint without looking.
  • Weight shifting exercises: These exercises help to improve the body's ability to shift weight from one side to the other. Some examples of weight shifting exercises include standing on a foam roller and shifting weight from side to side.

Proprioceptive rehabilitation can be an effective way to improve balance, coordination, and functional activities following injury or surgery. It is important to start proprioceptive rehabilitation gradually and to gradually increase the difficulty of the exercises as the body improves.

Here are some advanced proprioceptive exercises that can be used to enhance rehabilitation:

  • Eyes closed balance exercises: These exercises are more challenging than traditional balance exercises because they require the individual to maintain balance without visual cues. Some examples of eyes closed balance exercises include standing on one leg with your eyes closed, tandem walking with your eyes closed, and standing on a balance board with your eyes closed.
  • Multi-tasking exercises: These exercises require the individual to perform two or more tasks at the same time, which can help to improve their proprioception and coordination. Some examples of multi-tasking exercises include walking and talking, walking and juggling, and walking and balancing a ball on a stick.
  • Sensory integration exercises: These exercises involve using different sensory inputs to improve proprioception. Some examples of sensory integration exercises include walking on different surfaces, wearing weighted vests, and using proprioceptive balls.

Proprioceptive rehabilitation can be a valuable addition to any rehabilitation program. It can help to improve balance, coordination, and functional activities, which can lead to a faster and more complete recovery.

Here are some additional tips for using proprioception to enhance rehabilitation:

  • Start with basic exercises and gradually progress to more advanced exercises.
  • Make sure the exercises are challenging but not too difficult.
  • Be patient and consistent with your rehabilitation program.
  • Work with a qualified therapist to ensure that you are doing the exercises correctly.

With proper care and attention, proprioceptive rehabilitation can help you to regain your full range of motion and function following injury or surgery.

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