Blomberg Rhythmic Movement Training (BRMT)
Movement and a good environment is essential for babies. They have to follow their inborn primitive reflex pattern programmes from when they first start developing in utero through to their complete integration into the whole body movement system. When steps are missed along the way whether because of pre-natal trauma, birth injury, environmental conditions or just too long a time spent in inappropriate baby equipment with very little time spent exploring the floor, then the foundations of brain organisation and postural abilities are not established.
Rhythmic movement training is about resetting these foundations. The simple healing exercises stimulate the ability of the brain and nervous system to renew and create new nerve connections and how these exercises help a person to develop, mature and heal physically, emotionally and mentally. It was developed by Dr. Harald Blomberg in Sweden.
The brain of the infant is not mature to begin with. In a newborn baby, only the brainstem has all its functions firmly established, while the other parts are still developing their uses. Before an individual is able to bring into play all of her brain, the nets between the nerve cells of the brain must develop through the growth of branches from the nerve cells, and the nerve fibres must develop an insulating sheath of myelin. This maturing of the brain will take place all throughout childhood; however it is the very first year after birth that is the most crucial period for laying the foundation for later development.
It has been estimated that every minute in the life of a newborn baby, more than 4 million new nerve cells branches are created in the brain. This process does not happen by itself. The brain needs stimulation from the senses for branching and myelination to occur. Stimulation from the vestibular, tactile and kinaesthetic senses is especially important for this. The baby gets this stimulation by being touched and rocked by her parents and continually making rhythmic baby movements on her own. Such movements develop in a certain order according to an inborn programme which can have individual variations.
Turning around, creeping on the stomach, rocking and crawling on hands and knees are some important milestones in this development. The stimulation the brain receives from such rhythmical baby movements during the first year of life is fundamental for the future development and maturing of the brain.
When the nerve connections and synapses of the brain increase in number, additional parts of the brain start to perform their functions in new nerve patterns, which are stimulated by the infant’s movements. This is a process that continues automatically even when the nerve cells do not get direct stimulation. At the same time is a pruning of nerve connections corresponding to old behavioural patterns that the child no longer needs.
In children who have not had sufficient stimulation of this kind, the maturing of the brain is delayed or impaired. Such delayed development can appear as an attention disorder with or without hyperactivity.
According to the American scientist Paul MacLean, who studied the development of brains in reptiles, mammals and humans, the human brain consists of three layers that cap the brain stem like the layers of an onion and work as guiding operators for the neural chassis.
The first layer is the reptilian brain which corresponds to the brain of reptiles. In humans the reptilian brain is called the basal ganglia, one task of which is to control our postural reflexes.The reptilian brain must also inhibit the primitive reflexes: which are inborn, stereotyped movement patterns controlled by the brain stem. The primitive reflexes constitute the movements of the foetus and the newborn infant. They must be transformed into the postural life-long reflex movement patterns in order for the child to be able to rise, walk and keep her balance. The basal ganglia also regulate the level of activity of the child and ensure that the child is not revved up most of the time.
The next layer is the mammalian brain, or the limbic system, that controls, among other things, our emotions, memory, learning and the ability to play. The outer layer is the neocortex. signals from the sense organs must reach the neocortex and be processed there in order for us to be aware of what happens around us and be able to act consciously. The very front part of the neocortex, The prefrontal cortex is of crucial importance for our judgement, attention, and power of initiative and control of impulses.
When we are born, all parts of the brain have been established however not yet working well together. In order for all parts to function as a unit they must be developed and linked up to each other. This is achieved by rhythmic infant movements that stimulate the growth and branching off of the nerve cells and the myelination of the nerve fibres.
The infant needs to develop sufficient muscle tone in order to be able to move around and stimulate this linking together. To establish tone, the infant needs to be touched, hugged and rocked, as well as being allowed to move around freely. Such stimulation sends signals from the sense organs of the tactile, balance and kinaesthetic senses to those centres of the brain stem that regulate muscle tone. if the baby gets insufficient stimulation from these senses the tone of the extensor muscle will be low. This may make it difficult for the baby to lift her head and chest and move around, further reducing the stimulation from the balance, tactile and kinaesthetic senses, leading to a particularly vicious cycle of developmental delay.
When a baby is unable to move around freely, too little stimulation is conveyed to the neocortex via the Reticular Activation System (RAS) of the brain stem. The task of this system is to arouse the neocortex. When there is insufficient arousal, the child will become sluggish and inattentive to sensory signals. Moreover the nerve cells and the nerve nets of the neocortex will not develop properly.
The cerebellum is also important for the linking up of the brain and development of our ability to pay attention. One task of the cerebellum is to make our movements rhythmic, coordinated and smooth. From the cerebellum, there are important nerve connections up to the prefrontal cortex and the centres of speech in the frontal lobe of the left hemisphere.
At birth, the cerebellum is immature and it grows substantially after the age of 6 months. The rhythmic baby movements develop the nerve nets and nerve cells of the cerebellum and its connections to the frontal lobes. That is one reason why rhythmic movements are so important for the linking up of the frontal cortex and the development of the power of attention and speech.
The sensory stimulation caused by the rhythmic movements encourages the growth of the nerve nets of the brain stem, cerebellum, basal ganglia and neocortex to develop. This causes attention and concentration to improve and hyperactivity and impulsivity to decrease.
The rhythmic movements also increase the muscle tone of the extensor muscles that straighten the back and keep the head in an upright position. Body posture, breathing and endurance will improve and the neocortex will be aroused by stimulation via the brain stem, which improves attention and concentration.
The movements stimulate the cerebellum and its nerve pathways to the prefrontal cortex, which also improves attention and concentration and diminishes impulsivity. RMT also stimulates the basal ganglia to mature and integrate the primitive reflexes, which then facilitates the ability to regulate levels of activity and be still.
Children with symptoms of ADHD and learning difficulties always have retained primitive reflexes. However, they may not seem to have obvious motor problems. Sometimes children with attention and learning difficulties may even have good motor abilities and be good at sports and gymnastics. More often than not children with attention problems have low muscle tone, poor posture and difficulties doing simple rhythmic movements. In such cases the motor problems are usually more prominent.
Many children and adults who have retained primitive reflexes have never had any attention or learning problems. They may instead have visual, motor or emotional problems or long-term pain in the muscles and joints.
When the motor development of the infant is impeded in some way the maturation process of the brain may be impaired or delayed. The reasons can be many for such obstructed motor development: birth injury, microwaves, toxicity from heavy metals, genetic factors, cultural and psychological factors, etc. This delayed maturation of the brain may very well be the cause of the various challenges with motor function, attention, impulse control, learning, etc that many people have.
Tonic Labyrinthe Reflex
In the womb, the foetus lies in a fatal position with its head bent forward and her arms and legs bent. This is the position of the tonic labyrinth reflex forward, in which the pattern is the trunk, arms and legs are bent when the head bends forward.
This reflex develops twelve weeks after conception and should be integrated three or four months after delivery.
The tonic labyrinth reflex backward is developed at the time of delivery. In TLR backward, the whole body is extended and the tone of neck, back and leg extensors is increased. TLR backward should be integrated by the age of three years.
TLR helps the child adapt to the new gravitational conditions after delivery and gives the child an early primitive reaction to the gravitational force. Every bending of the head forward decreases the tone of the extensor muscles and neck; back and legs are bent. Every bending of the head backward increases the tone of the extensors, and the body is stretched. The proprioceptive sense is stimulated by the change of muscle tone, and the reflex gives the child an opportunity to practice balance, muscle tone, and proprioception (perception or awareness of the position and movement of the body).
If the TLR is not integrated, the effect will be that every head movement backward or forward changes the muscle tone and confuses the balance centre. These children have difficulties judging space, distance, depth and speed.
Children with an active TLR forward can have the following problems:
Difficulties in holding the head up- she may lean forward or to the side
Weak neck muscles
Weak muscle tone, over-flexible joints
Problems lifting the arms or problems climbing
Problems with the working of eye muscle- a tendency to be cross-eyed
Balance problems, especially when looking downward
Children with an active TLR backward can have the following problems:
Tense muscles, a tendency for toe walking
Problems with balance, especially when looking upward
If the TLR has not been integrated in childhood, there will be other retained reflexes. In adults who have integrated the TLR in childhood, the reflex may be re-activated because of an injury of the neck, the head or even the back. The symptoms will be balance problems and pain in the back of neck.
At the age of four weeks, an infant in a prone position starts to lift his head from the bed. After another month or two, the child will also lift her chest when the head is raised (upper Landau). After the age of four months, the child will start to extend her legs so they are raised from the bed while lifting her head and chest (lower Landau). The Landau reflex should be integrated at the age of three. When the reflex is integrated, the child in a prone position will keep her legs on the floor while lifting her head.
The Landau is important for the integration of the TLR forward and helps to increase muscle tone in the back and neck in a prone position. When the infant is able to lift her chest from the bed, her arms become free to grasp things and bring them to her mouth. This helps with the development of near vision.
If the Landau does not develop properly, the child will have low muscle tone, especially in the neck and back, and will have difficulties raising her head and chest in the prone position. There may be difficulties doing the breast stroke.
If the Landau is developed but not integrated, the child may have tensions in the back of legs and become a toe walker. The knees may be extended backward. Later in life there may be pain of the knees and eventually osteoarthritis. efficient co-operation between the upper and lower part of the body will be difficult since the legs are extended when the head is bent forward. If the Landau reflex is not integrated, it may obstruct the integration of the Spinal Galant Reflex.
Symmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex
The STNR develops when the baby is about six months old and should have a short lifespan. Therefore, like the Landau reflex, it is not a genuine postural reflex. It should be integrated by the age of nine to eleven months.
The reflex pattern of the STNR is the following: when the child kneels on hands and knees, the arms are extended and the legs are flexed when the head is bent backward. When the head is bent forward, the arms are flexed and the legs are extended.
Integration of the STNR helps to strengthen the muscle tone of the back of the neck and the back and is important for proper body posture. Thanks to the STNR, the child can rise on hands and knees from the prone position. But before the child learns to crawl on all fours, the STNR must be integrated, at least to a certain degree, in order for arms and legs not to be dependent on the position of the head.
If the STNR is not sufficiently integrated, the child will move around by sliding on her bottom or just sit still until she rises and walks. Children who never crawled on all fours usually have an active STNR.
The integration of the STNR takes place when the baby kneels on all fours and rocks back and forth. The STNR influences body posture and strength in the upper arms. The STNR helps the child to train her vision to focus at short and long distances.
A non-integrated STNR causes bad body posture. The child sits like a sack of potatoes. When sitting at a table, reading or writing, the child often ends up lying over the book. To prevent this, the child will often support her head with her hands. In order to keep an erect body posture, the child may prefer to fold her legs under herself and get into a W position.
Children with a retained STNR may have difficulties with accommodation and focusing at short and long distances, which may cause problems in ball games when the child must follow the ball with her eyes.They may also have problems with binocular vision (vision using two eyes with overlapping fields of view). Problems with accommodation and binocular vision are frequent in reading difficulties and the STNR reflex is usually retained in this condition.
In children and adults with rotated pelvises, the STNR is often active.
A common symptom of the STNR is weakness of the upper arms and the child may have problems doing a somersault. The child will also often have challenges doing the breaststroke because of difficulties bending the head backward and bending the arms and stretching the legs at the same time. Because of poor co-ordination of upper and lower parts of the body, the lower part may have a tendency to drop down when swimming.
Spinal Galant Reflex
If you touch the area next to the spine on either side at the level of the waist, the hips of the client will turn toward the side being touched.
The reflex develops twenty weeks after conception and should normally be integrated three to nine months after delivery. This reflex is considered important for the conducting of body vibrations in the foetus and the development of the vestibular system (the sensory mechanism in the inner ear that detects movement of the head and helps to control balance). The reflex also helps the baby move down the birth canal during delivery. If this reflex is not integrated, the development of the amphibian reflex is impaired, which can cause clumsiness of the lower part of the body and tension in the legs.
Children with non-integrated spinal galant reflex are often restless and hyperactive. Tight clothing or belts or just leaning against the back of a chair can trigger the reflex and cause the child to fidget. Most children who have not integrated this reflex prefer to wear loose clothes. Some children with an active spinal galant reflex are bed wetters. If the reflex is active only on one side, there can be scoliosis of the spine.
Persons with an active spinal galant reflex sometimes learns to fixate their lumbar spine, which may cause back problems. Fixation and rigidity of the spine at this level impairs the co-operation between the upper and lower body and may cause problems in getting in touch with feelings. In adults, a retained reflex may cause lower back pain and a rotated pelvis is common in both children and adults.
Spinal Perez Reflex
The Spinal Perez reflex is a primitive reflex that emerges at birth and is integrated between three and six months after delivery. Stroking with a finger along the spine from the tailbone to the neck causes the baby to lift its head and bottom, bend the thoracic spine backward and bend arms and legs.
The Spinal Perez reflex assists the development of the Landau reflex and the STNR and helps the baby to get up on hands and knees between the age of six to nine months.
Delayed development of this reflex may cause a lack of muscle tone in the back and general hypotension. A retained reflex may cause sensitivity and muscle tensions, especially of the thoracic back. It may also cause a rotated pelvis. Sometimes adults may have lower back pain and tensions of the legs.
People with a retained Spinal Perez reflex may be very sensitive in the thoracic back and feel ill at ease having people behind them. They prefer to sit against a wall or in the back. They may also have problems sleeping on their backs.
Moreover, the symptoms are the same as with an active spinal Galant reflex: restlessness and sometimes bedwetting in children.
The amphibian reflex is a lifelong postural reflex that develops when the child is between four and six months old.
Raising the pelvis on one side causes an automatic flexion of the arm, hip and knee of the same side. The reflex is first developed in the prone position and then in the supine.
The amphibian reflex starts developing only when a certain amount of integration of the ATNR has taken place and the movements of the arms and legs no longer are totally dependent on the position. This reflex helps the child to bend her legs and get up on hands and knees. The development of the amphibian reflex helps to integrate the spinal galant reflex. If the amphibian reflex fails to develop, it signifies that the spinal galant and possibly the ATNR reflexes have not been integrated.
Adults who have not developed their amphibian reflex often suffer from clumsiness in the lower part of their body and tension in their legs.
Fear Paralysis Reflex
The Fear Paralysis reflex is one of the early withdrawal reflexes that emerge in the second month after conception. The withdrawal reflexes are characterised by a rapid amebic-like withdrawal movement as a response to a tactile stimulation of the mouth region.
The pattern on the FP reflex has been described as a terrified rabbit, completely frozen on the spot and unable to move.
The reflex should normally be inhibited before the twelfth week after conception and integrated into the Moro reflex. If the FP reflex is not inhibited, the Moro reflex will usually stay active and in many cases, the TLR will also stay active. Balance problems are therefore common.
The FP reflex is not a primitive reflex since it is not triggered by way of senses, which has not developed yet. The reflex should be regarded as a section to stress by the cells of the foetus. Unicellular organisms react to stress by moving away from the source, whether it is toxicity or some other danger. But the cells of the foetus have nowhere to go, and instead they protect themselves from the environment by producing stress proteins that make the cell membranes less penetrable and diminish the active transport over the cell membrane. At the same time, the foetus is paralysed and stops moving.
When the FP reflex emerges, the neural system is not sufficiently developed to be able to transmit the reflex pattern by way of neural impulses. Instead, the information is transmitted directly between the cells by way of electromagnetic frequencies. Stressful factors that prevent the integration of the reflex may be electromagnetic frequencies, heavy metals and other toxic substances. Also, stress from the mother can trigger the reflex and prevent its integration. If there are extremely stressful conditions for the foetus during the first months after conception, the reflex may be constantly triggered and the foetus may be frozen in immobility most of the time, preventing the reflex from integrating.
Children and adults with an active FP reflex have a low tolerance to stress. There is oversensitivity to the senses, usually touch, sound, light or sudden changes of the visual field and vestibular and proprioceptive stimulation. Sometimes there may be oversensitivity to smell and taste. Persons with a strong vestibular sensitivity and a disposition to motion sickness may feel dizzy and sick when they do rhythmic exercises involving the head, and these exercises may actually trigger the reflex in some cases. When the reflex is triggered, there is a release of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenalin. In adults, panic syndromes and social phobias may occur- and sometimes high blood pressure. Muscle tension in the neck and shoulder areas is common.
It is usually stressful for children and adults with an active FP reflex to look another person in the eyes. Some people have learned to compensate for that by staring intensely into peoples’ eyes, often without blinking.
The Moro Reflex starts to develop after the twelfth week, should be fully emerged in the thirtieth week in utero, and should normally be integrated about four months after delivery. When the FP reflex is not inhibited, the development and subsequent integration of the Moro reflex will be obstructed. Therefore, the Moro reflex is usually active when the FP reflex is not integrated.
The Moro reflex is triggered by a strong and unpleasant stimulation of the balance, auditory, visual, tactile or proprioceptive sense- for instance, a sudden change of the position of the head, a loud sound, a frightening visual stimulus, an unpleasant touch, or a sudden change of position. The infant reacts in a characteristic way: first by taking a deep breath and stretching his arms and legs out of the way from the body, and then the arms and legs are bent into the middle of the body and the infant starts to cry.
In the womb, the Moro reflex movement will help the foetus exercise its respiratory muscles. when the midwife triggers the Moro reflex in the newborn baby to initiate breathing (e.g., by letting the head fall slightly backward), she will trigger the Moro response and the baby will start crying. In premature babies born before the thirtieth week, this response cannot be elicited because the reflex is not yet fully developed.
When the Moro reflex is activated, the defence mechanism of the body are alerted. The sympathetic nervous system and the adrenals are stimulated and the stress hormones epinephrine and cortisol are secreted. Epinephrine causes the sense to become oversensitive. A nonintegrated Moro reflex causes many different symptoms from one or more senses.
Visual sense: big pupils that are slow to react to light, which causes bad twilight vision and hypersensitivity to light
A tendency to be cross-eyed at both near and far distance
Auditory sense: hypersensitivity to sound or specific sounds, difficulties shutting out background noise
Vestibular sense: hypersensitivity to vestibular stimulation, motion sickness and problems with balance
Tactile sense: hypersensitivity to touch
Kinaesthetic sense: hypersensitivity to sudden change of position
Both an integrated Moro reflex and FP reflex may be activated in situations of extensive physical, emotional or environmental stress. These two reflexes are usually activated in case of burnout and chronic fatigue syndrome in adults.
Asymmetric Tonic Neck Reflex
The Asymmetric Tonic Neck Reflex develops about eighteen weeks after conception and should be integrated when the baby is about six months old.
When the baby turns her head to one side, the arm and leg on that side are stretched, while they are bent on the other side.
In the foetus, the ATNR trigger kicking movements and gives proprioceptive and tactile stimulation. The reflex assists the child during delivery. It causes the newborn child to move her arms and legs, depending on the position of the head. These movements are homo-lateral (i.e., the child moves one body half separately and stimulates the left and right hemisphere separately). The gradual modification of these movements assists the child in integrating the reflex: lying on her back and bending her arms and legs and tracking the fingers and toes with her eyes and eventually putting them in her mouth is one way of integration. Lying in a prone position and lifting her head and chest, grasping things and putting them into the mouth is another. Further integration takes place by cross movements causing nerve signals to pass through the corpus callosum and stimulate its nerve connections.
The movements that the infant makes to integrate this reflex also train her binocular vision (the ability of the eyes to co-operate) and the ability to track moving objects with her eyes.
If this reflex is not integrated, the child may have difficulties making cross movements and crossing the midline. The child may walk in a slow amble. The balance of the child is affected when the head is turned to the side, making it difficult to learn riding a bicycle. When the child turns her head to the right, the right arm and fingers are extended and the child easily drops things or turn them over. When writing, the child compensates for this by gripping and pressing down hard on the pencil, which impairs her handwriting. Some may have challenges writing eights.
A retained ATNR may cause visual problems such as deficient binocular vision, astigmatism and sometimes strabismus and problems with tracking. Adults may have the same problems. More often, there are tensions and pain of the back of the neck, shoulders, back and hips.
Lightly pressing on the palms of a baby triggers the Babkin reflex. Then she opens her mouth and bends her head forward or to the side and starts doing sucking movements with the mouth. When the baby sucks, you can also observe involuntary movements of the hands. The movements of the hands may stimulate the breasts when the baby is breastfeeding. The reflex will assist the baby in putting her thumb or things into the mouth.
The Babkin reflex is developed in the second month after conception and is active during the first three or four months after delivery.
If the Babkin reflex is not integrated, the child will have challenges with the motor control of her hands. The fingers may be very floppy. Fine motor skills will be impaired, with challenges in tying shoelaces, doing up buttons, and so forth. Poor handwriting can occur. There may be challenges with speech, articulation, and often involuntary movements of the mouth and tongue when the child writes, plays an instrument, or when using scissors. Adults with a retained Babkin reflex often have tensions of the jaws and may bite or grind their teeth at night. Children with this reflex actively also have a tendency to bite or chew pens, clothes and so on.
Due to difficulties of articulation, the corresponding area of the sensory cortex of the left parietal lobe is not properly stimulated, which may cause impaired phonological ability and difficulties perceiving sounds. By motor training and integration of the Babkin reflex, articulation will improve, as will phonological ability.
Putting a finger into the hand of a baby triggers the Grasp reflex. The baby will grasp the finger and hold it. If you lift the baby, her arms will stretch.
The Grasp reflex is developed the third month after conception and should be integrated during the first year after delivery. The reflex is important for hand-eye coordination, development of binocular vision, and cooperation between hemisphere. The baby grasps things and looks at the object, bringing it to the mouth. later the reflex is important for ear coordination and the ability of the auditory sense to judge distance and direction. When the baby has learned to support herself sitting in a child’s chair, she will start to throw objects around, practicing throwing and releasing things at the same time. In this way, the baby simultaneously integrates the grasp reflex and learns to judge direction and distance of the sound when the object hits the floor.
If the Grasp reflex is not integrated, the child may have challenges with the motor control of her hands, poor handwriting, and poor fine motor skills. The pencil grip will be poor or unusual, and there is a tendency to hold the pen too tightly. An active Grasp reflex causes tension in the shoulders and makes writing difficult. In adults, there are often tensions of the shoulders and problems differentiating difficulties holding a firm grip of a golf club while making a swing, resulting in throwing away the golf club with the ball.
Hands Pulling Reflex
The Hand Pulling reflex is triggered by holding the baby around her wrists and pulling her toward you, then the baby bends her arms and helps to get up into a sitting position.
This reflex emerges twenty-eight weeks after conception and is normally integrated two to five months after delivery.
At the age of two months, the Grasp reflex is merged with the Hands Pulling reflex and they start to function as a unit: when you put your fingers into the palms of the baby, she will clutch your position. These two reflexes enable the child to learn how to handle objects with her hands, pulling them toward her, putting them into her mouth, throwing them away and so forth. they also assist the integration of the Babkin reflex.
An active Hands Pulling reflex causes tension in the forearms, making writing difficult. In some persons, the arms are constantly bent at the elbows; others have problems keeping them bent. In adults, the tensions of the forearms may cause problems of the elbow (e.g. tennis elbow). In children who are in the habit of flapping the forearms when they get excited, this reflex is usually active.
The Babinski Reflex develops during the first two months after delivery and should be integrated at the age of two.
When you stroke along the outer lateral part of the sole of the foot from the heel to the little toe, the big toe is extended and the other toes spread.
The Babinski reflex is important in preparing the feet for walking and influences the ability not only to move the feet but also the legs, hips and lumbar spine. It is important for the muscle tone of the lower part of the body. Children with an undeveloped Babinski reflex are often flat-footed, slow and do not like walking, they walk on the insides of their feet and they may have loose ankles that are easily sprained.
If the reflex is developed but not integrated, the children have a tendency to walk on the outside of the feet. These children develop tension in their feet and legs when they grow older.
If you press you thumb against the sole of the foot, between the toes and the arch of the foot, the toes will bend. The reflex emerges when the foetus is eleven weeks and should be integrated seven to nine months after birth.
Like the Babkin reflex, the Plantar reflex belongs to a group of grasp reflexes that are considered a remnant from a previous stage of development, when the young ones had to cling to their mothers. In many mammalians, the Plantar reflex assists breast-feeding in the same way the Babkin reflex does.
A retained Plantar reflex may cause tension of the jaws and biting and grinding of teeth, as may a retained Babkin reflex and therefore affects articulation in a similar way.
A retained Plantar reflex may cause phonological challenges and difficulties perceiving sounds in the same way the Babkin reflex does. By motor training and integration of the Babkin reflex, articulation may improve, as will phonological ability.
Usually the Babkin and Plantar reflexes are both retained in children and less often only one of them.