Bilateral Integration is a movement-based programme written by Mrs Sheila Dobie OBE and supported by Miss Kirsty Brown and Dr Andrew Dalziell. Created from a collaboration of knowledge from child development, education, psychology and cognitive neuroscience, the bilateral integration programme provides an extensive range of exercises that are designed to develop and enhance gross motor coordination, fine muscle control, balance and postural control.
The exercises are developmental and range from simple to complex with a wide variety of movement that incorporate actions that begin with passive engagement leading to active involvement and concluding in automatic control of movement. Following body awareness exercises, the movements develop from the use of single limbs, to homologous movements (i.e. both arms together and then both legs together), homolateral movements (i.e. the arm and leg on the same side of the body move together) and culminate in contralateral movements (i.e. the arm and leg on the different sides of the body move together).
Postural development is encouraged in a developmentally appropriate way where the exercises are first performed in a supine position (i.e. lying on the back), before progressing into a prone position (i.e. lying on the front), half-arm extension (often known as the ‘sphynx’), sitting, on hands and knees and then finally in a standing position.
Once in a standing position, the programme begins to add more dynamic components including; jumping, travelling, directional awareness and rotation which increases the cognitive and physical demands of the performer.
The programme can add a wide variety of sensory components to ensure the integration of the senses. This helps the individual to move, think and feel in an efficient and consistent manner that allows them to understand themselves and to use this knowledge to interact, learn and adjust their behaviour within a variety of contexts. In essence Bilateral Integration provides an opportunity to enrich the interaction between a person and their environment, and in doing so helps these individuals to learn with greater ease and efficiency and helps to foster positive relationships between one person and another.
From Bilateral Integration: The Gateway to Achievement [Course Manual]
‘Utilised progressively with thorough application of the exercises, the bilateral integration programme should:
- Ensure bilateral integration
- Stimulate body awareness, schema and enhance coordination
- Support competent balance, static and dynamic function
- Facilitate inhibition of extraneous movements
- Develop directionality and spatial awareness
- Secure lateralisation of function (lateral dominance)
- Provide scope for interhemispheric integration
- Increase sensory integration
- Develop automisation of movement
- Promote physical and cognitive abilities through multi-tasking
- Enhance perception, discrimination, attention and memory
Secondary, although no less important, benefits may be addressed increased confidence, self-esteem and overall motivation.
Used in isolation, the bilateral integration exercises will however facilitate measurable change in movement capabilities with concomitant educational and personal benefits.’
(Sheila M Dobie OBE, 2006)