Or how retained reflexes can make you crash your car…
In my previous blog, I talked about the basics of neurodevelopment therapy (the link is here)and to follow on, I want to talk about how retained reflexes can have an impact into adulthood. I have used this title after talking to one of my clients parents about the impact of a retained asymmetric tonic neck (ATNR) reflex, which means that when you turn your head to look over your shoulder, the arm on the side that you’re looking over wants to extend and the opposite arm wants to contract into the chest. My client’s Mum laughed and pointed out that when her husband is driving and has to look over his shoulder, he swerves the car in the direction he’s looking! Which goes to show two things; firstly how many of us get through life reasonably well with unintegrated reflexes and how integrating your reflexes can potentially save your life!
As discussed previously, reflexes are there to assist with the birth process, feeding and moving. Developmentally parts of the body remain neurologically connected, so that if one part of the body moves, the reflex ensures that another part of the body has to move. If a reflex remains active, the actual movement can be suppressed but the impulse remains, hence a swerve of the car when looking over the shoulder.
Some reflexes connect the head/neck and body, some reflexes connect top and bottom of the body. If these reflexes remain active, then movement of the head affects movements of the body or movement of the top half of the body interferes with movement in the bottom half of the body.
The effect that this can have physically is very revealing, for instance if
the Tonic Labyrinthine (TLR) reflex is still active, when the head moves forward the body collapses forward and when the head moves backwards the body tenses. The implications of this if the reflex isn’t integrated can affect posture, causing hunched posture, with weak neck muscles and difficulty holding the head up. Low muscle tone and hyper mobility or hyper muscle tone which prevents usual childhood activities like climbing, playing on monkey bars, and being able to rotate around bars, in adults it prevents strong core muscles being able to develop. It can cause problems with going up or downstairs, up or down escalators and may cause a fear of heights.
These reflexes can often be integrated using a good neurodevelopment programme, if you would like more information or to book an appointment, drop me a line [email protected]