Did you know that when we are in the womb and shortly after we are born, we have a range of primitive reflexes that help us grow? Before our higher brain has developed the ability to make decisions, these reflexes help our body move and respond to different stimuli.
The Asymmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex (ATNR) should be fully present at birth and assists in the baby’s active participation in the birthing process. When a newborn’s head is turned to one side, the arm and leg on that side straighten while the opposite arm and leg bend. The ATNR reflex is important in babies for establishing the connection between touch and vision which will have a huge role in our distance perception and hand eye coordination as we grow.
In early months, ATNR locks vision on to anything which catches the attention. If inappropriately retained, the child (or adult) is easily distracted by anything that attracts the attention. Results of a recent study show that ADHD symptoms are closely linked to persisting ATNR, which indicates that ADHD symptoms may present a compensation of unfinished developmental stages (1).
A persisting ATNR in people with ADHD may occur as a response to various stimuli. This is due to a conflict between higher (more developed) and primitive level (less developed) areas of brain function and decision making (2).
If the ATNR is retained, children may find it difficult to look up at a blackboard and write, maintain normal walking patterns, balance, co-ordination in sport and in adults, there can be chronic shoulder or neck problems.
Here are some easy ways to test for an ATNR at home:
A. Ask your child to get on all fours with the arms straight, fingers pointing forward and the head in neutral. With their weight over their hands, rotate the child’s head left or right. If their elbow bends on the opposite side of head rotation (as would in the infant) OR the weight shifts posteriorly (i.e. off the hands) then the reflex is probably present.
B. Alternatively, have the child standing with arms straight out in front of them at shoulder height. Ask the child to turn their head fully to the left or fully to the right while maintaining the position of the arms out front. If the torso and arms turn in the direction of the head or if the arms drop this reflex is likely present.
If you suspect that yourself or your child has a retained ATNR, call our practice now for further assessment.
Does your child suffer from pain in any spinal region? Perhaps from their busy day to day activities? From the many sporting activities that they may be involved in? These things may be putting tension on the spine, which may present as spinal pain, which may include pain in the neck, between the shoulder blades or lower back. This is an article that could make the world of difference to them.
“Spinal pain, which includes the neck and back, is a common health problem occurring in all age groups” (1,2)
There are a lot of mechanical and ergonomic stress placed on the spine from our modern lifestyle, from iPads and laptops to sports and exercise. When left to linger on without the proper care, wear and tear occurs in the spine from these stressors. On average, patients suffering from spine pain will incur 73% higher health care costs, with quite a bit of the costs going towards improper management, such as emergency services. (3,4)
But the good news is, with correct management, spinal pain and issues of the spine can be minimised. In a recent literature article, the study provides evidence that a course of chiropractic care, is a viable conservative pain management treatment option for young people. (1)
“With the spine being one of the main pillars of our body, especially for the growing child, it is important to make sure that it is functioning at its optimum.”
(1)Manansala, C., Passmore, S., Pohlman, K., Toth, A. and Olin, G., 2019. Change in young people's spine pain following chiropractic care at a publicly funded healthcare facility in Canada. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice.
(2) Hartvigsen, J., Hancock, M.J., Kongsted, A., Louw, Q., Ferreira, M.L., Genevay, S., Hoy, D., Karppinen, J., Pransky, G., Sieper, J. and Smeets, R.J., 2018. What low back pain is and why we need to pay attention. The Lancet, 391(10137), pp.2356-2367.
(3) Martin, B.I., Deyo, R.A., Mirza, S.K., Turner, J.A., Comstock, B.A., Hollingworth, W. and Sullivan, S.D., 2008. Expenditures and health status among adults with back and neck problems. Jama, 299(6), pp.656-664.
(4) Deyo, R.A., Mirza, S.K., Turner, J.A. and Martin, B.I., 2009. Overtreating chronic back pain: time to back off?. J Am Board Fam Med, 22(1), pp.62-68.
Reflexes are defined as involuntary and arguably instantaneous movements in response to specific stimuli. Eg. take the patellae reflex, when the Dr taps your knee ligament your quad contracts automatically, and your knee shoots out - this is not under voluntary control.
Some of these reflexes are seen in particular age groups and disappear at identified times during one’s lifetime. These reflexes which are normally present in early life and disappear as one grows are the primitive reflexes.
Here at Little Sprouts we have a particular interest in the implication of their
impact on learning and development.
According to authorities in pediatric neurology, the reflexes are fashioned as part of the developmental process to develop specific brain circuits for important purposes. The development of what we have as the day-to-day movement activity is driven by the primitive reflexes (1). As a matter of principle, primitive reflexes are thought to have a developmental role since they are supposed to help the young one to perform activities such as movement against gravity as they are incorporated within the first few months of life. That is especially true for walking and crawling.
Moreover, children who have retained primitive reflexes tend to exhibit some elements of social and even educational dysfunction. Their psychological development is modestly incapacitated hence they may show altered psycho-motor development (1) which is essentially the thought origin of movement from the brain controlling the actual moment.
Another study found that Inhibition of primitive reflexes, especially those involving the hands and the mouth has a significant role in the normal development of motor and expressional movements (2).
Stay tuned next week for how some of these primitive reflexes can be related to disorders of other disorders (eg ADHD) and we will also post some videos in the coming weeks about how to test for primitive reflexes.
If you would like your or your children's primitive reflexes assessed call our practice now.
BONUS for reading this blog - Because we love getting out into our community if you would like one of our Drs to come and talk to a group of Teachers or Parents about how to test and identify primitive reflexes please contact our practice. Normally $550 per talk - FREE if you mention this blog. We love getting out into our community!! (note - based on availability)
It’s Spinal Health Week, and here at Little Sprouts Chiropractic we are passionate about the health of our practice members big and SMALL. Why kids, you may ask? Because early intervention allow for a greater chance of a positive outcome, just like the research tells us.
It has long been said that early intervention, or even prevention, will provide the best chance for an optimal outcome. Infact, changes in our lifestyles early in life can have profound effects on our health long term. Changes as simple as increasing our daily activity and dietary modification (1,2).
In previous posts we have talked about the rates of back pain, and recurrence of back pain within the adult population, but what about the kids? The statistics are fairly similar; up to 50% of kids will have an episode of back pain or other musculoskeletal problem per year. It has also been suggested that those who experience back pain as an adolescent have an increased chance of long term issues as an adult (1,2).
So if you are interested in finding out more, or having one of our awesome chiropractors check you and your family out, then give us a call, CLICK HERE.
Posture is the position in which we hold our bodies when we are standing, sitting
or lying down. Good posture helps us stand, walk, sit and lie in positions that
places the least strain in associated muscles and ligaments when we are moving
and doing different weight-bearing activities.
Poor posture can lead to excessive strain on our postural muscles which can
contribute to back pain, spinal dysfunction, joint degeneration and postural pain
syndromes. Common contributing factors to poor posture include poor work
environment setup and unhealthy sitting or standing habits.
Australian adults on average spend an estimated five hours per day sitting, with
a quarter of the population sitting for more than eight hours per day (1).
Here are some easy ways to ensure proper sitting posture:
1. Keep your feet flat on the floor or on a foot rest.
2. Knees should be at or below the level of the hips.
3. Utilise back support devices to encourage the natural lumbar spinal curve.
4. Avoid sitting cross-legged as this puts excess strain into your sacroiliac joint.
5. Forearms should be parallel to the ground.
6. Eyes should be in line with the top third of your computer screen.
The Australian Chiropractors Association (ACA) has designed the Straight Up app
to help remind you to sit right, stretch and even staying hydrated- all important
factors of our spinal posture and health. Download the FREE app to help your
Department of Health | Research and Statistics. (2019). Retrieved from
Have you been following along in the media? > There has been a lot of speculation after a video was released of a chiropractor adjusting a baby. Let us look at some facts from a study released this year.
“In Australia 30,000 children (0-18 years old) are seen every week” (1).
There is little evidence of harm associated with paediatric spinal manipulation therapy, and in Australia, chiropractors provide care to more than 30,000 children (0-18 years old) every week. A statement from Australian Chiropractic Association states that “we firmly believe that chiropractors should remain an important part of a child’s healthcare team”.
In the study just released a Comprehensive search of the literature was performed by three independent librarians at three different educational institutions. The databases were searched between 2001 through March 31, 2018.
No lasting or significant adverse events were reported for children receiving any form of Manual Therapy. Twenty-four studies included information on adverse events that were all transient and mild to moderate in nature (2).
We want to reassure you that at Little Sprouts we do care for babies and children and we are always carefully modifying our techniques when treating children to take into account the differences in patient size, structural development and flexibility of the joints.
Modifications for babies include using gentler, lighter biomechanical forces proportioned to the size and structural development of the child.
At Little Sprouts We look forward to meeting you and your family!
IT WILL GO AWAY - The Three Most Dangerous Words!
Symptoms you have been ignoring - Are they important?!
Because it is difficult to live life perfectly early SYMPTOM recognition, APPROPRIATE interpretation and relevant ACTION is the key to great health. – Jeremy Thomas (DC)
Read the three Important Points Below about Symptoms.
1. Symptoms accumulate and in turn cause other symptoms often that seem unrelated…. Interestingly in a study Neck pain of Grade 3-4 was strongly associated with low back pain, headaches, cardiovascular disorders and digestive disorders (4). As an example look at Low Back Pain research - As well as significantly affecting activity participation, LBP is frequently associated with co-morbidities such as depression, with rates 2.5 times those in people without LBP (1).
2. Symptoms experienced if mismatched with expectations can lead to huge consequence…. Looking at heart attack symptoms: The most common symptoms expected by patients with myocardial infarction were central chest pain (76%), radiating arm or shoulder pain (34%), and collapse (26%). The most common symptoms experienced were sweats or feeling feverish (78%), chest pain (64%), and arm, shoulder, or radiating pain (66%). A mismatch between symptoms experienced and those expected occurred in 58% of patients, and was associated with delay in reaching hospital (2). It is VERY important in this case to know appropriate symptoms and act accordingly!
3. Covering up a Problem Flat Out Does Not Work As A Long Term Solution!....While not as obviously urgent, other symptoms in the body are an indicator that something is going on. The analogy of the smoke alarm comes to mind when discussing symptoms.
If a smoke alarm were beeping, would you simply cut its power source or take the batteries out? A better solution is to find the source of the smoke and deal with it!
Another example is something we have discussed before in other blogs; the latest Guidelines recommend non-pharmacological (non drug) care as the first treatment option and reserves pharmacological care for patients for whom non-pharmacological care has not worked in Low back pain (3). Basically DO not use Surgery or Drugs as a first line effort for low back pain is the latest advice. Do not cover these things up whatever they are - do as much as you can to get to the cause!
If you have early health symptoms – get checked out AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!
By decreasing the amount we move each day, we have increased the severity of poor posture and in turn, its negative effects on health(1). Daily activities that we now consider common, like sitting at a desk, driving instead of walking, and even playing video games, may lead to incorrect posture.
What is poor posture?
Posture is the position in which we hold our bodies while standing, sitting or lying down. When your posture is poor this can increase pressure on your spine and contribute to tension, soreness, headaches, back pain and fatigue. Australian adults, on average, spend an estimated five hours per day sitting, with a quarter of the population sitting for more than eight hours per day(2) including the 67% that play video games recreationally(3). This time sitting and hunching over a desk or on the couch can add pressure to the spine.
A healthy posture is all about healthy movement, by both your spine and your body. It does take discipline to correct poor posture, but there’s no doubt the benefits are well worth the effort.
The Straighten Up app, developed by the Australian Chiropractors Association (ACA) is designed to help everyday Australians maintain and improve their spinal health. Use the app to set reminders and receive notifications about sitting right, stretching, improving posture and even staying hydrated.
Download the FREE app and get your posture Ready for Life today!
Click Here for the App
At Little Sprouts we are aware of a media storm on Chiropractic at the moment, particularly Paediatric care and Applied Kinesiology. This tends to happen every so often. We want to give you the heads up on what is going on and reassure you that we are open for all ages and business is as usual here. We are compliant with the recommendations.
In addition to five years of pre-registration education to be register as a chiropractor, my wife and I (and some of our Doctors) have completed 2 years (1100) hours of post-graduate paediatric education – a requirement for full membership with the Australian College of Chiropractic Paediatrics (ACCP). Our priority is to provide care in a safe and best evidence informed manner.
We perform rigorous assessment and develop treatment plans that fall within our skill set, in accordance with a patient’s individual needs. Chiropractors, including myself, treat more than 30,000 children (0-18) a week in Australia.
When treating all patients, however paediatrics in particular, safety is at the forefront of all care. We use a range of care modalities and specific manual therapies that are only used after thorough and age-specific individual assessment. When treating children, techniques and therapies are significantly modified in practice and pressure to ensure the safety of the patient, which is always our chief concern. All of our chiropractors have been extensively trained in paediatric care.
Despite recent media coverage, it is also important to consider that chiropractic is a very low-risk health profession, and serious adverse events are very rare and should be justified in context with the large numbers of children who enjoy the health benefits of visiting a chiropractor. A recent review (Todd 2014) concludes that the occurrence of serious events to SMT in the paediatric ages is rare.
I understand there is some confusion on chiropractic care and its avenues for treatment. I am proud of what we do, and as such if you have any other questions reply to this e-mail and we will get back to you.
Please view and share the video where Dr James and I explain all of this. It can be found here:
(1) Todd, A.J., Carroll, M.T., Robinson, A. and Mitchell, E.K., 2015. Adverse events due to chiropractic and other manual therapies for infants and children: a review of the literature. Journal of manipulative and physiological therapeutics, 38(9), pp.699-712.
Neck pain is a common presentation to a chiropractic office, with an annual prevalence of up to 50% and a re occurrence rate of 50-85% for as long as 5 years. A common theme we hear in our offices is “I have tried everything”, and we are often seen as a last resort, despite having excellent outcomes for neck pain, especially when using a multi-modal approach, such as acupuncture combined with chiropractic treatment (1).
Acupuncture is an excellent adjunct treatment to go along with the usual manual therapies that a chiropractor will use for the treatment of many presenting complaints including neck pain. Acupuncture has been shown to help with musculoskeletal pain in general through a number of different mechanisms such as pain gating theories, where the needles will stimulate chemical reactions within the nervous system to release neuropeptides to activate mid brain structures that controls the descending pain-relieving system. This descending system controls endorphins, serotonin and noradrenalin, some of your “feel good” and “relaxing” hormones within the body (2).
A 2016 Cochrane Review concluded that acupuncture is safe and can be beneficial for the management of chronic neck pain with or without radicular symptoms, predominantly for the short term (3).
What this means for you is that we can use acupuncture as an additional treatment for your neck pain to help reduce your immediate pain symptoms so that we are better able to get to the root cause!
So if you have neck pain, or know someone who does, why not come in and ask one of our Chiropractors how we can help.