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Rickard Rehabilitation Services

Rickard Rehabilitation Services, Inc.  

Primitive & Postural Reflexes

At birth a baby has no control over voluntary movement. The baby responds to environmental stimuli through the primitive reflexes which are automatic stereotyped responses. These primitive reflexes provide the training ground for many aspects of later functioning.

As the infant begins to grow and mature during the first six months of life, so the Central Nervous System also begins to mature. Higher, more sophisticated regions of the brain begin to override the primitive reflexes. As this occurs early survival patterns are inhibited or controlled to allow more mature patterns of response (postural reflexes) to develop in their place.

The postural reflexes are regulated by higher centers in the brain involved in the production of voluntary movement.

It is only as postural reflexes replace primitive reflexes that the infant begins to gain control of the body and body movements. A child who has cerebral palsy never makes the transition from primitive to postural reflexes, and so movements remain random and uncontrolled. To this extent at birth we are all born mildly cerebral palsied, but in the early months of life we rapidly gain control of the primitive reflexes, and thus lay the foundations for later voluntary movement.

Some children fail to gain this control fully in the first six months of life and continue to grow up in a reflexive "no man's land", where some of the primitive reflexes remain present and the postural reflexes do not develop fully. These children do not have cerebral palsy, but they do have enormous difficulty with voluntary movement patterns as the body remains under the influence of involuntary response.

Retained primitive reflexes will affect a child's sensory perceptions, causing him to be hypersensitive in some areas and hyposensitive in others.

If both sensory input and motor response are impaired, conceptualization of certain movements can be affected.

This can affect not just arms and legs, but eye functioning, visual perception, balance and the processing of auditory information.

It is hardly surprising therefore, that many of these children experience difficulties at school, or that some adults cannot cope well with stress.

Rickard Rehabilitation Services, Inc.

Rickard Rehabilitation Services, Inc.
168 Franklin Turnpike, Waldwick, NJ 07463
201-670-0864 - Fax:201-445-0256 -

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