Primitive Reflexes Explained

What are Primitive Reflexes?

Primitive reflexes are involuntary actions of the central nervous system that are essential for survival and development in the womb and in the early months of life. These reflexes are controlled by lower centres of our brain which is the most primitive region.

Primitive reflexes ideally begin to function in a particular order and are integrated in a specific sequence. If they are retained out of sequence, they disturb the development and integration of subsequent reflexes.

This may result in altered development of behaviour, learning, and the integration of gross or fine movements. The perception and reaction of the inner and outer environment is disturbed; creating inappropriate and undesirable reactions of the nervous system in certain situations.

Why are Primitive Reflexes retained?

These reflexes can remain dominant if they are not integrated by the developing brain. This can prevent your child from reaching their milestones and disrupt normal social, behavioural and motor development. The most common cause for primitive reflexes to be retained is trauma at birth (forceps, suction, C-section, induction) or any physical, chemical or mental stresses which children experience in their early years.

Signs & Symptoms of retained Primitive Reflexes

  • Lack of concentration, distractibility
  • Hyperactivity and increased sensitivity
  • Difficulty sitting still
  • Anxiety, withdrawn, shyness
  • Poor co-ordination, messy handwriting
  • Motion sickness
  • Speech articulation problems
  • Poor bladder control/bed wetting

Can Chiropractic help?

Yes. Chiropractic adjustments can help improve the function of the nervous system; this includes the brain. Sensory input from the nerves in the joints of the body and spine fuels the brain. Any spinal restrictions or loss of joint movement affects the body’s ability to relay information to the brain via the nerves. By restoring joint movement through specific chiropractic adjustments you can increase the firing of the nervous system allowing improved function within the body.

While chiropractic adjustments can help to create better nerve pathways to the brain, homebased exercises and some nutritional changes are also important to reinforce and ensure the reflex remains integrated.

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Paediatric chiropractic / Primitive Reflexes

Understanding the importance of integrating primitive reflexes