Primitive Reflexes

Primitive reflexes are automatic, involuntary movements essential to a baby’s survival in the first few weeks of life. These reflexes are quickly inhibited as higher centers of the brain develop and voluntary responses become dominant. Primitive reflexes persisting beyond 6-12 months of life are considered abnormal.

Normal neural development shows a progressive inhibition of the primitive reflexes and progressive development of new skills such as gross motor skills, fine motor skills, crawling, walking, balance, coordination, and speech. Children have a number of persistent primitive reflexes present with neuro-developmental disorders. The severity of the neuro-developmental delay depends on the strength of the persistent primitive reflex and on the number of persistent primitive reflexes, as well as other factors.

Below you will find common signs and symptoms associated with a persistent primitive reflex. The list is not exhaustive or complete but is intended to offer some insight regarding the importance of primitive reflex testing and remediation.

Moro Reflex – School Problems

The Moro Reflex emerges at 9 weeks in utero and is the earliest form of “fight or flight” (reaction to stress) which is fully present at birth and is usually inhibited between 2-4 months of life.

1. Over reactive
2. Hypersensitive
3. Stimulus bound
4. Difficulty with ball games

Spinal Galant Reflex – School Problems

The Spinal Galant emerges at 20 weeks in utero, is actively present at birth, and is inhibited by 3-9 months. If fully retained, or only retained on one side, it may affect posture, gait, and other forms of locomotion and is responsible for fidgeting, bedwetting, poor concentration and short-term memory, and hip rotation to one side when walking. When retained it can interfere with the development of amphibian and segmental rolling reflexes.

1. Inability to sit still or remain silent
2. Poor concentration
3. Continued bedwetting above the age of 5 yrs

Asymmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex – School Problems

Asymmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex (ATNR) emerges 18 weeks in utero to stimulate the balance mechanism and to increase neural connections. It assists in and is reinforced by the birth process. ATNR is fully present at birth and develops eye-hand coordination, trains one side of the body at a time, and extends the ability to focus from 17 cm to arms length. It is inhibited by about 6 months of life (so that focus on distant objects can develop). It ensures free passage of air when baby is in the prone position and increases extensor muscle tone.

1. Handwriting: expression of ideas in written form
2. Eye tracking problems; difficulty crossing the midline
3. Ambilaterality or cross laterality

Tonic Labyrinthine Reflex – School Problems

The Tonic Labyrinthine Reflex (TLR) Forwards emerges in utero, is fully present at birth, is inhibited by 4 months, and is closely linked to the Moro as both are vestibular in origin and activated by movement of the head. When retained it can lead to spatial problems, motion sickness, poor posture & muscle tone, visual perceptual difficulties, poor sequencing skills, and a poor sense of time. The Tonic Labyrinthine Reflex (TLR) Backwards emerges at birth and is inhibited gradually from 6 weeks to 3 years.  It is involved in the simultaneous development of postural reflexes, the symmetrical tonic neck reflex, and the Landau reflex, which can result in poor balance and coordination as well as organizational skills and stiff jerky movements if retained.

1. Poor balance, rigid or floppy muscles (seen in PE or in running)
2. Oculo-motor dysfunction, tracking, convergence, reestablishment of binocular vision
3. Visual perceptual difficulties
4. Possible auditory problems
5. Organizational problems
6. Poor sense of time and rhythm

Symmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex – School Problems

The Symmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex (Flexion & Extension) emerges at about 6-9 months of life and is inhibited about 9-11 months. If retained, it affects posture, hand-eye coordination, and swimming skills. It also results in the tendency to slump when sitting at a desk, an ape-like walk, “clumsy child” syndrome, difficulties with binocular vision, slowness at copying tasks, and messy eating habits.

1. Posture lies on desk when writing
2. Poor eye-hand coordination
3. Problems with refocusing from far to near distance
4. Clumsy

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Treatment Approach of Childhood Developmental Disorders

Treatment of Hemispheric Disorders – Our Approach


Hemispheric Integration – The stimulation and training of specific neurological pathways to encourage neuroplasticity resulting in academic and social behavioral changes.

Neurosensory – The stimulation of sensory pathways to encourage neuro-plasticity resulting in motor and cognitive changes.

Functional Biochemistry – The use of specific natural compounds that are proven to support neurological, immunological, and digestive processes.

Nutritional Counseling – The purpose is to help you implement the best diet for your child’s needs based upon clinical lab results.

A thorough neurological evaluation will reveal which hemisphere is underdeveloped and will evaluate neurological pathways for over activity and under activity. Specific tests include, but are not limited to, testing for primitive reflexes, testing of cranial nerve function, testing of cerebellar function, testing of frontal eye fields, and even routine blood work. Once the objective data is collected, a treatment plan can be tailored to stimulate and promote hemispheric integration or synchronization thus enabling the brain to work as a whole. With no treatment, the weak side gets weaker and the strong side becomes dominant, which can result in neglect syndromes. However, with specific hemispheric treatment, the weak side can be encouraged to catch up to the dominant side.

Why Carolina Brain Center?

Dr. Dane brings 20 years of experience to the Triangle and has helped many people achieve a healthier brain and body.

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The Child's Brain Explained

What Makes Our Treatment Different


The child’s brain has two hemispheres (the Left and Right Cortex). The corpus callosum is the structure deep in the brain that connects the right and left hemispheres of the cerebrum, coordinating the functions of the two halves. When the corpus callosum is missing due to agenesis or surgical intervention, the hemispheres operate independently. Current research indicates the makeup of all of the child’s issues can be explained by a combination of unusually strong skills in one hemisphere combined with unusually weak skills in the other hemisphere. Developmental disorders such as ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorders, OCD, and Tourettes are a result of a weak right hemisphere, while Dyslexia, LD, processing Disorders and language disorders are a result of a weak left hemisphere.

 

What makes our treatment different is that we utilize hemispheric treatment to facilitate the development of the weak hemisphere. The brain is very plastic, meaning that it is very changeable. The adaptability of the brain is a property that must be utilized in treatment very specifically. When one hemisphere is weak, the stronger hemisphere will automatically begin to take over responsibilities and the brain will begin to disassociate from the weaker side. This is why we see neglect syndromes with children who have hemispheric imbalances. Because the brain reacts in this manner, if we drive the whole brain, in other words, if we treat both hemispheres together, we run the risk of driving a bigger gap in development between the two hemispheres. However, if we only stimulate, or drive, the weak hemisphere in treatment, we encourage the gap to close!

Click on link for an article on childhood development disorders (pdf)

Why Carolina Brain Center?

Dr. Dane brings 20 years of experience to the Triangle and has helped many people achieve a healthier brain and body.

WHO WE ARE

Ready For A Consultation?

Dr Dane is ready to talk when you are. We’ll need some information from you to get the process started!

GET STARTED