Clumsy people have a brain disorder?

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You must have some clumsy moments where you trip over your own feet or almost walk into a glass door and hope nobody has noticed. Well I occasionally have these moments in my life and consider myself as one of the most clumsy persons that exist in this world sometimes. I always manage to find that tiny unevenness on the street where I will trip over, knock one of my bodyparts against furniture where I almost want to fall dramatically on the floor and think about how hard my life is at that point..

But one day I wondered what causes this clumsiness, is it something in my DNA? Is it some kind of disorder in my brain? Or is this clumsiness just a gift from god for his own entertainment? –No insult towards god by the way, I am a christian myself -.  Some people have it more than others, but why? I did a little research to answer this question and here are some things that I found:

Apparently left-handed people were associated with clumsiness –I am left-handed too-. The Oxford English Dictionary has some weird but interesting ‘facts’ about left handed people, here are some of those facts:

  • The word left in English comes from the Anglo-Saxon word lyft, which means weak or broken. The Oxford English Dictionary defines left-handed as meaning crippled, defective, awkward, clumsy, inapt, characterised by underhanded dealings, ambiguous, doubtful, questionable, ill-omened, inauspicious, and illegitimate.
  • Many artistic representations of the devil show him to be left-handed.
  • In Latin, the word for left is sinister, related to the noun sinistrum. Ambisinister means “clumsy on both sides.”

So me as a left person am: a broken and weak, crippled, awkward, devilish, clumsy person. –Okaaaayyy thanks. Back to business:

There has been this ‘Scientific Breakthrough’ in 2007 where Professor Charles Swanik and some scientist from the University of Delaware did a study on clumsiness and why it is that we have to bump into every furniture or twist our ankles randomly.
So the team of Professor Swanik did a test on 1.500 athletes. 80 of these athletes had clumsy-related injuries. The tests found some characteristics of the brain; how fast the brain could understand new information and its response to it. The cause may be a conscious or unconscious distraction at that given moment that you trip or anything else that is clumsy. This ‘narrowing of the attential field’ is a kind of neurocognitive disruption. It jars the flow between your muscles and your unconscious brain, causing errors in the muscle coordination (source: elevated today, 2015). So basically how well you can block out these ‘distractions’ and if you can process a couple of things at once. If you cannot block these distractions, you will most likely ‘not see’ that tiny stone or that sharp corner of the table and crash..

Washington University did a study on clumsiness in 2013 and found that young and older adults pay attention to different things while they are doing something: Say you are reaching for a cupcake. A young adult will focus on whatever is doing the action – in this case, their moving hand – and hence what is in its way. An older adult, on the other hand, will just focus on their own body and the object itself. So they do not tend to pay as much attention to what could bash into their hand and crack it on the table edge. (source: JR Thorpe,, 2015).

However, if you are experiencing some brands of extreme clumsiness, it could be something serious; it can be a sign of deeper motor problems in the brain. If you suddenly knocking down stuff regularly or drop cups of tea too many times, you may want to see a doctor. So it can be a brain disorder, but in most cases it is not.

So if you are occasionaly clumsy like me, you should not worry too much about it. They say that you could even train your brain to ‘not being clumsy’. Not get too distracted basically. We will see how that will turnout..


Toodle pip!




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