When babies are born their brain is still developing. So if you were to ask them if they have any problems with the way they are functioning then they’ll probably give you an answer like ‘wa-wa’. Basically the main functioning area of the brain is the vital centre control area call the brainstem. This is the part of the brain that is assessed when a baby is first born in a test called the APGAR score which includes appearance, pulse, grimace, activity, and respiration. Since the brain is a sensory built and sensory maintained system babies have a number of built in or primitive reflexes, which enable survival and produce movement in response to an environmental stimulus. These reflexes cause movements. When we move it stimulates sensors like joint and muscle movement sensors which all fire into the brain to in turn build the brain. Eventually when the brain has built enough of itself, these reflexes are integrated; that is, broken up to be used in more complex tasks. These reflexes are known to integrate/disappear at certain months of development and thus they can be used as markers for progress of neurodevelopment. A neurologically based chiropractor is trained to assess these reflexes as an indicator for how well your babies brain is developing. If they are not integrated at the expected age then it is a sign that neurodevelopment may be delayed, asymmetrical or needing some assistance. Signs of retained primitive reflexes along with other observable indicators may be a sign that the child may struggle to acquire other skills further down the track. Other health professions often look at infant health from other perspectives like a medical pathological view, whereas our view is from an in-depth, functional perspective.
What can be done if these signs are present?
It’s likely that thorough examination of the environmental stimulus surrounding your child will be useful. Maybe your child only ever looks one way since all the action is on one side of their cot, maybe they need more of a particular type of stimulus to help develop that part of the brain. In many cases particular movements/exercises are recommended in combination with a short treatment trail involving very light force stimulus/techniques. We do not manipulate babies like we often manipulate an adult.