Primitive reflexes

What is a primitive reflex?


·      Sequential movements patterns developed in utero for the foetus to survive

·      They assist in the birthing process and are vital for growth and development

·      They are controlled by the brainstem

·      They enable us to feed, roll, reach, crawl, develop muscle tone and head control 

·      As the central nervous system matures and the reflex has done its job, it should then under go transformation or inhibition by a higher part of the brain

·      The next reflex is then able to emerge to do its job

·      This process continues until all the reflexes are integrated and replaced by postural reflexes, which then remain for life


Primitive reflexes

Kinesiology, Nedlands


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If a reflex is not integrated at the correct time, it is said to be a retained reflex.

The primitive reflexes should all be integrated by about 12-18 months of age and they form the foundation for our future development.


Unintegrated reflexes can result in:


·      Delayed motor development

·      Difficulty in maturing the brain

·      Poor perceptual ability


Development and growth.


Nedlands, Perth

What should teachers and parents be looking out for that might indicate a retained reflex?


·      Fidgeting and ‘ants in your pants’ at school

·      Slouched posture in the chair

·      Resting their head on their hand while writing

·      Poor pencil grip and fine motor movements

·      Turning their paper to 90 degrees when writing

·      Moving the paper or book sideways when reading

·      Poor upper body strength, balance and coordination 

Why don’t reflexes integrate?


There are a number of reasons why reflexes wouldn’t integrate, some of which include:

·      Stress during pregnancy or a traumatic birth

·      Caesarean or premature birth

·      Lack of movement and stimulation during pregnancy and in the first few month of life


* There are a lot of factors to consider and it does not mean you will have retained reflexes if you have had a complicated birth.


Adults can also have retained reflexes, which could present as pain or tension in the body after years of compensation.

Kinesiology can also help with:


·      Memory, concentration and comprehension

·      Reading and writing

·      Balance, posture and coordination

·      Behavioural or emotional difficulties

·      Anxiety

·      Bed wetting and sleep

·      Speech

·      Digestive problems 

If you would like to find out more about kinesiology and integrating reflexes, please contact me on 0405 981 879. 


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