Infinity Walk is a therapeutic method for progressively developing coordination and certain areas of cognitive functioning. It is typically used with compromised individuals such as those with brain injuries or learning disabilities. Teachers and therapists use it to improve some of the essential foundation skills that must be mastered before learning can occur.
A beginning student or patient learns to walk smoothly in a figure-eight pattern while looking at an object or person across the room. As they become able to do that consistently, other physical and mental activities are added to the coordinated walking. An advanced walker can maintain a smooth figure-eight walk while doing several other activities, e.g., simultaneously gesturing and doing mental arithmetic as they converse with their teacher or therapist.
Infinity Walking can be done under a variety of conditions: indoors or outdoors, on foot or when riding a wheelchair, therapeutic riding horse, or other means of seated ambulation. There are systems of curved handrails that facilitate Infinity Walking by those unable to stand or walk on their own.
Developed in the 1980s by clinical psychologist Deborah Sunbeck, the Infinity Walk is based on studies of cognitive science, neuropsychology, and practical applications of EEG research on lateralized readiness potential. It strives to improve the sensorimotor functioning of those who practice it. In developing the method, Dr. Sunbeck also applied knowledge of social facilitation and intrinsic motivation to the task of creating a self-motivating method of physical and mental skill-building that would help the user develop resilient self-regulated learning strategies for future challenges.
- It has been used by U.S. physical and occupational therapists in the rehabilitation of persons with brain injuries.
- It has been recognized as a particularly effective activity in developing multisensory integration in occupational therapy, including some clients with learning disabilities.
- In a 1993 study, learning disabled elementary school students who completed an Infinity Walk program showed significant improvement in reading readiness, word identification, word comprehension, and reading passage comprehension.
- This video shows a simple infinity walk.
- In the latter cases, the method is called Infinity Riding.
- Sunbeck, Deborah (1996). Infinity Walk: Preparing your mind to learn!. Torrance, California: Jalmar Press. ISBN 1-880396-31-9.
- Sunbeck, Deborah (2002). The Complete Infinity Walk, Book 1: The Physical Self. The Leonardo Foundation Press. ISBN 0-9705164-6-0.
- "Infinity Walk - A Cutting-Edge Tool in Brain Injury Rehabilitation". Northeast Center for Special Care web site. 2007. Retrieved 2011-11-06.
- Kawar, Mary (2002). "Oculomotor Control: An Integral Part of Sensory Integration". In Anita C. Bundy, Shelly J. Lane, Elizabeth A. Murray. Sensory Integration: Theory and Practice (2 ed.). Philadelphia: F. A. Davis Company. pp. 353–357. ISBN 0-8036-0545-5.