Primitive reflexes and RMT -What exactly is it ?

We all learnt about reflexes when we were in school- they were called as reflex actions.

Some examples of reflexes are

blinking of our eyes when something comes close to our eyes,
sneezing,
coughing,
Shivering
yawning

These reflexes are automatic and happen without your thinking-it is something on which you do not have control upon. They are protective in nature and they help us. Reflexes are also present in animals.

So what are Primitive reflexes?

· As you know the word primitive means crude or old.
· Reflex means something that happens without our conscious control like sneezing.
· And as I link the words together, a primitive reflex means something which is very crude and happens automatically which is not under your control.

In very simple terms, it means like using an old bulky slow computer of the 80’s in the age of sleek and fast processing laptops. Child is born with these reflexes until they mature by one year of age and the control of these primitive reflexes are released and the higher centers of brain take over. As the connections develop, the HOLD of the primitive reflexes on the body decreases. But if the connections do not develop, then these reflexes stay active and do not allow the other systems to express themselves.

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It is like many ministers of various states fighting to exert control. Each minister is in control of a particular state (part of the brain) which is assigned to them. These ministers have to be in sync and manage the functioning of the country (brain). But instead of working together to bring about efficient functioning of the country (brain), they all dominate their own self defined rules which makes it difficult for the country to prosper. To develop the synchronicity, these primitive reflexes need to be integrated and connections need to be established with higher centres. This happens when we do primitive reflex integration.

So what happens in primitive reflex integration?

It means allowing your child’s system to upgrade from old bulky slow computer of the 80’s to sleek and fast processing laptops. It also means that now all the ministers are in complete coordination with each other to bring about increased efficiency.

I am sure you will agree that the functionality is very different and so it will be for your child. You will be able to release the control of primitive reflexes of the lower brain centers through integration as the brain starts linking up. As the control releases, more independence and higher level control is achieved which leads to more of desirable behaviors by your child

You may be wondering how the retained primitive reflex manifests . So here it is

Fear Paralysis Reflex- This causes shut down of the systems when faced with stress or any kind of change. It causes mutism, shyness in social situations, depressions, constantly feeling overwhelmed, very fearful of any kind of change- fear of separation from a loved one, sleep and eating disorders.

Moro reflex – Retained Moro reflex causes rigid behaviour patterns, hypersentivity to light, sound, taste, touch or smell, resistant to changes or transitions, allergic to specific food substances, fluctuations from extreme hyperactivity to extreme fatigue, reading and writing difficulties.

ATNR – Retained ATNR causes difficulties in reading, writing and math skills. It also causes confused handedness – uses both hands for writing, eating etc.

SGR – Retained SGR reflex causes difficulties like bed wetting and wriggling behaviors ( like ants in the pants) which causes hyperactivity and fidgety behaviours making it difficult to pay attention.

TLR – Retained TLR reflex causes difficulties with space, understanding the relations of space such as up-down, right -left, difficulty in judging space and the speed of movement, toe walking, hunched posture and coordination difficulties.

What is RMT?

RMT is a short form for Rhythmic Movement training. It was developed by a psychiatrist Dr. Harold Bloomberg in 1980’s on the basis of work of Kerstin Linde when he saw that rhythmic movements had remarkable differences in his patients with psychiatric conditions. He also studies with other movement specialists. Moira Dempsey, an Australian Educational and Developmental kinesiologist became interested in the role of retained reflexes in learning and behavioural challenges in the mid 1990’s. Moira Dempsey met Dr. Blomberg in 2003 and started using the movements herself and with clients. She noticed remarkable results.

When the rhythmic movements are given, it helps to develop connections in the brain which were not developed before. These movements help in linking the different parts of the brain with each other which helps in efficient functioning of the brain. It also helps to integrate primitive reflexes.

If there has to be an analogy then, I see the rhythmic movements to be like water and fertilizers for the plant to grow. As the movements are done, new connections grow just like branches of a plant and help to synchronise the functioning of the brain.

The movements need to be planned by a therapist who is trained in RMT. Two or three movements are started initially and changed every 15 days to a month depending on how the body responds to them. Results can be seen within 10 days to a month. To maintain the results, the movements need to be done for a period of 12 -18 months. We combine RMT at khushi with other treatment approaches.

If there is a history of seizures the movements have to be very carefully monitored and done with neurologist’s opinion. Also, caution needs to be taken while doing it with kids with Downs syndrome.

When the brain starts linking up because of the rhythmic movements, the body starts releasing toxins and muscle tension. This causes side effects which may be physical or emotional in nature. These effects suggest that linking is happening and helping. However, if the side effects are not manageable, then you need to follow up with your consultant and change or decrease the movements as needed.

RMT is not necessarily to be done for kids but it can be done for anyone who has active primitive reflexes.

Reena Singh

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