From Mike Potegal, PhD, neuroscientist and Assoc Prof ad Honorem, University of Minnesota
From childhood on, some people need to be especially careful about where and on what kind
of surfaces they walk on. They are wary of heights and of other challenges to balance like
tilting back or standing on one leg. Some have particular difficulties with escalators. These
people are likely to have memories of not liking to climb on things as a child, having difficulty in
learning to skate or ride a bike, not participating in sports, and not liking some amusement park
rides. They say about themselves “I like my feet on the ground” and they mean it literally.
This life-long condition is called "Gravitational insecurity "(GrI) by occupational therapists
who see individuals with these issues in the clinic. However, GrI is not yet recognized by the
greater medical community because of a lack of scientific evidence about what causes it. We
are addressing this unfortunate situation by a study whose aims are to: 1) Determine what
problems in processing the signals from the vestibular organs of balance in the inner ear might
cause GrI, 2) bring these experiences to the attention of the larger medical community so that
physicians, psychologists, and other health providers will understand what their patients are
telling them and 3) provide an empirical basis for developing interventions that might help. Our
results to date are promising but we need to test more people with GrI in the next month or so
to make sure we are on the right track
If this sounds like you, you are not “clumsy” or “crazy”. You are most likely coping with some
issues with the processing of vestibular information. You can help by participating in the study. The
study itself involves sitting down and setting a pointer in a bucket-like device to different
positions. Also, fill out a few questionnaires about your sensory experiences. The single test
session is done in an easily accessible lab on the University of Minnesota Minneapolis
campus and takes about 75 minutes.
Compensation for participation is $25.
Please contact Mike Potegal at email@example.com for more information.