Why is Primitive Reflexes Integration Important?
Primitive reflexes are stereotypical, instinctual, automatic movements that babies begin to develop in the womb and through infancy to support survival, growth and development.
Typically, for normal developing infants, most primitive reflexes are integrated by the end of their first year. As our brains and bodies grow, voluntary movements and postural reflexes take over primitive reflexes.
Reflex integration is critical for a child’s physical, cognitive and emotional development. It
facilitates brain growth and strengthens the neuro-sensory-motor skills for balance, posture, gross and fine motor skills, speech and social-emotional skills. In other words, integrating primitive reflexes is the essential foundation for every child to learn effectively, manage their impulses and regulate their emotions.
What are the Key Primitive Reflexes?
1) Fear Paralysis Reflex: A protective response to a perceived threat which trains
Moro Reflex: An automatic reaction to a sudden change in the environment that
Tonic Labyrinthine Reflex: A process whereby babies practise neck and head
Asymmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex: It connects head and movement to one-sided
Symmetrical Tomic Neck Reflex: It lifts and controls the head for far-distance
Spinal Galant Reflex: The rotation of the hip when the back is touched on either
Oral, Hand and Foot Reflexes: They are associated with speech difficulties, issues
What are the consequences of Unintegrated Primitive Reflexes?
The above key primitive reflexes are not fully integrated for many children and adults. As a result, they experience mild to severe problems with functioning and learning. Additionally, incomplete integration of these reflexes cause developmental delay, sensory processing disorder, vision and hearing problems, anxiety, ADHD, ASD, and behavioural issues.
How can we integrate these key reflexes?
Using Neurodevelopment Movement can help children and adults complete the reflexes
and shift their challenges and create positive changes. Numerous research has
demonstrated that rhythmic and primitive reflex motor intervention are effective in
decreasing muscle tension and sensory processing challenges, and also improving balance, coordination, and physical function (Blomberg, H., Dempsey, M., 2011; Gazca, M., 2012).
Neurodevelopment Movements are established based on reflex patterns and rhythmic
movements babies make naturally and spontaneously that are fundamental for the
development and maturation of the brain. While doing the rhythmic movements, the
balance, tactile and proprioceptive senses are fully engaged which facilitates the process of brain maturation. Most of the movements are done on the floor and involve light touch.
This is because touch provides the brain with extra stimulation and helps integrate the
reflexes more effectively.
The process of integrating the reflexes will include an assessment to evaluate which reflexes need integration followed by doing a series of age-appropriate movement activities purposefully designed for each reflex. To increase the effectiveness of the Reflexes Integration, play and fun elements are to be added to the movement activities prescribed for the children or adults.