Retained Primitive

Neurodevelopment and Milestones

What are retained primitive reflexes and why is it important to know about them?

We are all born with innate movements and reflex patterns called primitive reflexes. These are reactive actions that help a baby during the birth process and are essential for survival, especially during periods of stress or danger. They also form the foundational roots of the nervous system and are the building blocks for processing sensory information and learned movements and skills. 

Physical, biochemical, and emotional stresses may occur that affects a person’s ability to use these reflex patterns effectively or cause them to become active again. Primitive reflexes should be integrated into the rest of the nervous system by the time the first year of life is complete. They get overruled by higher-level reflexes called postural reflexes and higher levels of thinking and are no longer necessary once the nervous system develops.

What happens if reflexes are retained or reactivated?

If movement milestones are skipped or stress gets in the way of the integration of primitive reflexes, developmental milestones are affected and the progresses of higher and more sophisticated areas of the brain and nervous system development are impeded. This may result in poor motor, social, behavioral, and academic learning. 

There is lots of ongoing research into the causes and implications of retained primitive reflexes. It has been shown that the retention of these instincts can lead to problems later, including:

What can be done to overcome retained primitive reflexes?

It is essential to look at babies’ reflexes and ensure developmental milestones are on track. This will aid primitive reflex integration to occur with the aim of assisting that child’s brain to better process what is going on inside their body and give them the best possible start in life.

For older children and even adults, movement through space is essential for proper areas of brain development. Once we have identified which reflexes are active and each person’s specific area of need, the practitioners at Strawberries and Sunshine use specific movement patterns and brain exercises, combined with manual therapies and body work, to promote proper development of neural pathways essential for learning and navigating through life.

This comprehensive approach also helps to develop or properly regulate the sensory processing system.

The long-term result of such treatment is better social behavior, improvement in academic and motor learning, and overall enhancement of physical and emotional health.

If you are in or near the Port Coquitlam area and are interested in having you or your child assessed for retained primitive reflexes, or you’re looking for strategies to guide the growth and development of your baby, don’t hesitate to contact Strawberries and Sunshine today.