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Bedwetting, fidgeting, and poor concentration. How this primitive reflex might be affecting your child.

At Maximized Chiropractic in Bismarck, ND, our focus is to make sure your entire family is taken care of. While we love pregnancy and meeting those fresh newborns, we want to make sure that our skills can benefit your child as they continue to grow into young adults. As parents, we often think our kids have to be in pain to see a chiropractor. But what if we told you that we may be able to offer help with other things like ADD/ADHD, bedwetting, fidgeting and poor concentration? What if there was another option for these symptoms besides countless trials of medication?

In a previous article, I talked about primitive reflexes. As a brief review, primitive reflexes are the basic start of our nervous system and our ability to move. Each reflex has a purpose in preparing our body to move against gravity and as your child grows, these reflexes integrate into their nervous system. If they do not integrate, your child can develop unwanted habits such as the ones listed above.

One of the most common reflexes to be retained in children is called the Spinal Galant Reflex. This reflex is essential during the birth process because it gives gentle reminders to your baby’s muscles to wiggle their way out of the birth canal. After your baby is born, the spinal galant reflex helps promote big milestones including crawling and walking. Once your child learns the motions needed to perform these skills, the spinal galant reflex is no longer necessary and becomes a postural reflex for adulthood. Therefore, the reflex should disappear around 9 months.

So what happens if it doesn’t?

The most common signs of a retained spinal galant reflex is bedwetting beyond being fully potty trained. Fidgeting, poor concentration and poor posture are also signs that the reflex may still be present, all of which can be a major contributor to the development of ADHD and ADD. School aged children are most likely to show signs of the retained reflex. When we see these kids they have a hard time sitting still for scans, talk about trouble in school, and the parents typically explain that they have behavioral problems at home.

The good news is that we have some tools that can help! We are trained to test for the spinal galant reflex and it is as easy as seeing if your child is reactive to a line drawn on their back. Sometimes we get a positive test from simply performing our thermal scan which is part of our routine anyway! If your child has a positive reaction, we will first adjust them to make sure their nervous system is functioning the way it should be and then offer age specific exercises to help integrate the reflex and hope to see a reduction in these issues.

The exercises are easy, and mostly fun! Here are the ones specific to the spinal galant:

  • Snow Angels (Toddlers)

? Lie face up on floor, legs straight and arms at sides

? On inhale, simultaneously spread legs outward and raise arms overhead while keeping both on the floor

? On exhale, return limbs to starting position

? Key is to move all 4 limbs at the same time

? This is the exact motion you would do to make a snow angel in the snow!

? Repeat 10x, 2x/day

? 5 days per week

  • Back Tickles (Infants/Toddlers)

? Have child lie face down with shirt off (or be able to contact their skin with shirt on)

? Draw letters using your finger on their back

? Make it a game and have them guess the letters (if old enough!)

  • Back Squiggles (Infants/Toddlers)

? Have child lie without shirt on floor (preferably on carpet)

? Using their legs, have them scoot across the room on their back

? Make it a race!

  • Bum Scootch (Toddlers)

? Sit on bum, with legs and arms extended out straight

? Attempt to “scoot” across the room while maintaining this position

? Move R arm and R leg at the same time and L arm and L leg at the same time

? Again, you can make this a race and your kids will love it!

Primitive reflexes require roughly 5-6 weeks of consistent exercises to integrate. But I can tell you that these exercises are much less invasive, expensive and have fewer side effects than any medication that could be used to treat these symptoms. If your child has expressed any of these symptoms, and you’re ready to try an alternative, we are happy to help.