Chiropractic help for children with retained primitive reflexes
At birth, babies have a number of primitive reflexes, including breastfeeding and gaining the attention of caregivers and other functions necessary for surviving the early months. Some of these reflexes are repetitive movements that help the child gain muscle control and sensory processing. Newborns who lack some of these reflexes may be at increased risk of morbidity or mortality during the first month of life. During the course of typical brain development, primitive reflexes become integrated into the central nervous system and disappear as the movements become more practiced and intentional. Typically, most of the primitive reflexes will be fully integrated by the first birthday.
In some cases, children may retain some of these primitive reflexes. Persistent primitive reflexes may be a result of damage or trauma to the brain or central nervous system. Primitive reflexes beyond infancy are morely like to be seen in children who have certain neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism, sensory processing disorders and attention deficit disorders.
Primitive reflexes in older children may have one or more of several possible causes. Some of these include birth trauma, premature birth, falls and other traumas, spinal subluxations and frequent ear infections. It is also possible for certain conditions, such as stroke, traumatic lesions or dementia to cause primitive reflexes to appear later in adulthood.
Integrating the primitive reflexes is important because it allows the child to develop motor skills and the brain to engage in higher learning. Until the primitive reflexes are integrated, motor development and higher learning cannot take place as effectively.
Motor skills provide the foundation for cognitive development and is therefore critical to academic achievement. This is why children with inadequate motor skills and trouble processing sensory input often have more problems in school.
Retained primitive reflexes may cause such symptoms as anxiety, hyperstimulation, trouble reading, illegible handwriting, restlessness, inability to focus or to retain information, bad posture and even learning to walk without having learned to crawl. They may cause such physical symptoms such as motion sickness, trouble eating solid food and gait abnormalities with with hip rotation and walking on toes. Retained reflexes may even cause shyness and lack of confidence.
A chiropractor can help address persistent reflexes through a series of motion centered exercises intended to rewire the brain to help the child integrate the specific reflex and to develop the child’s motor skills. A chiropractor can also help improve spinal function, which can help improve the child’s ability to process information and reduce distortion of information. The chiropractor will recommend exercises based on the specific reflex or reflexes that are retained and on the extent of effects of the retained reflex(es).
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