When children are born, they emerge from the womb with primitive reflexes – physical responses that are initiated without conscious thought or intention. These reflexes allow the child to cope with the influx of new sensory information from the post-utero environment, but should soon be overtaken and inhibited by voluntary actions – these are referred to as postural reflexes or postural control. Primitive and postural reflexes follow an orderly sequence of inhibition and development, beginning in the foetal period and extending through to the first three to four years of life. In some cases this does not happen due to developmental issues.
Institute of Neuro Physiological Psychology (INPP, UK)
Neuro – Developmental Delay is defined by the Institute of Neuro Physiological Psychology (INPP, UK) as the continued presence of a cluster of partially retained primitive reflexes above the age of one year and the absence or underdevelopment of postural reflexes above the age of three and a half. There is a premise that the presence of partially retained primitive reflexes, and/or absence of postural reflexes at key stages of development, provide information as to the maturity of the Central Nervous System and which can influence balance, coordination, learning and behaviour.
Tests for Gross Muscle Coordination and Balance
Coordination and motor planning is the expression or inner organisation in the areas of balance, posture and movement control all working together. Balance is the ability to hold stability within the body in response to changes in the body position. Coordination and balance difficulties as well as a lack of proper fluidity of movement can be seen as indicators or “soft signs” of immaturity of the Central Nervous System, affecting the relationship between brain and body functioning. Therefore, the assessment of gross muscle coordination and balance, provide insight into the integrity of postural control and movement development.
The Reflex Stimulation and Inhibition Program with a Bilateral Motor Integration Program (BMIP) is a regime of specific physical exercises which need be carried out on a daily basis under parent supervision.
These exercises have been designed to stimulate maturation of the reflexes and improve balance, posture and coordination, motor planning and sensory integration skills including bilateral integration, body awareness and schema, develop lateralization using simultaneous and contralateral movements of the two sides, assist the development of overall gross motor skills, fine motor movements and oculo-motor skills needed for reading and writing.