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Why Reflexes are Important

Reflexes are important aspects of human growth and development. Over time, reflexes become part of our daily lives to the point that we don’t even think about them at all! One of the practices we offer at Crawl Walk Jump Run is reflex integration therapy which can help with the development of reflexes.

What is a reflex?

A reflex is an automatic, instinctual movement that assists in human development, growth, and survival. Many reflexes are active throughout our entire lives!

Primitative reflexes are the first reflexes we develop. These will eventually develop into more sophisticated movements and become integrated reflexes. Integrated reflexes are no longer active but serve us by giving us control over our volitional movements.

Why are reflexes important?

Primitive reflexes begin to cause automatic repetitive reflex movements which are the foundation of our nervous system. All of our future development depends on this foundation in order to grow.

Reflexes originate in the brain stem which is the area of our brains that focuses on survival. Unintegrated reflexes can trigger a ‘fight or flight’ mode which makes us more reactive and less able to control our impulses – even if there is no reason for it. Because of this, stress can become a physiological and habitual part of our life that we may not even be fully aware of!

What causes reflexes to be unintegrated?

  • Limited movement in infancy and early childhood
    • Kids and babies especially need movement! Think of all the ways we contain our children from car seats to stroller, to swing, to chairs etc…
  • Congenital disorders
  • Disease
  • Physical and emotional trauma
  • Prolonged stress
  • Environmental toxins

Would my child benefit from reflex integration?

Active reflexes can cause confusion in the nervous system which can impact coordination and balance, reading and writing, executive functioning, and attention, and even speaking!

Active reflexes are often present in children that have difficulties in school, such as being able to sit still, maintain attention, and focus. When a reflex is active, the body can move in ways that the person does not intend. Certain stimulation from their environment, even as simple as a chair touching their back can cause involuntary movements! Think fidgeting, sometimes it is caused by unintegrated reflexes!  Once reflexes are integrated, the conscious mind takes over and movements of the body are easier to control.

(Source: Masgutova, S. (2012). MNRI Dynamic and Postural Reflex Pattern Integration. Sixth Edition- Revised and updated. Ill. SMEI,LLC. 1

If you think your child is in need of occupational, physical, or speech therapy call us today to set up a FREE screening at 586-323-2957!

Written by: Stephanie Earl, COTA

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