What are developmental delays?
A developmental disorder/delay is any functional change that is different from how a child (or adult) should normally be able to function. These changes often impact children emotionally, socially, physically, and behaviorally in addition to how they move and feel.
Common Signs that Indicate a Developmental Imbalance:
- Bed wetting
- Digestive Issues
- Reading issues
- Poor handwriting
- Immune challenges
- Speech issues
- Poor balance
- Poor coordination
What are primitive reflexes?
Most parents have never heard of primitive reflexes. That is because they are often checked at the first few well-baby visits. However, few health professionals make sure they go away at the appropriate time (usually after 6-12 months of life). Primitive reflexes need to be evaluated in all infants and children because they are an indicator of how well the brain and body have developed and made early connections.
As the brain matures and builds more complex movement patterns, the early primitive reflex patterns become controlled as opposed to automatic. Take, for example, that adorable reflex newborns have where they grip your finger every time you touch their palms. This reflex teaches them how to sense objects in their palm, how to make a fist and how to coordinate all of their hand muscles simultaneously to close. Eventually, they can CHOOSE to pick up or drop objects (this is when dinner time becomes fun!). Once a child knows how to use the hand muscles together, they can learn to do more complex fine motor skills such as holding a pencil.
However, when reflexes continue to be automated longer than necessary, the brain cannot mature properly, and optimal function is disrupted. Often parents aren’t aware that these early movement patterns can be a big part of the many problems kids have today – ultimately influencing the ability to learn in school, control their behavior, make friends and coordinate their bodies in sports. A child with poor hand-eye coordination and body awareness is going to struggle to hit a ball, shoot a basket or write well since all of these skills build on simple patterns of “muscle memory” learned in infancy.
Our team of chiropractors have extra training in identifying retained primitive reflexes and developmental imbalances to better assist you and your child on supporting the nervous system through chiropractic, at home exercises and advice to enhance their ability to learn, grow and thrive in their environment and in themselves.
What does chiropractic have to do with development?
Movement is foundational for helping the brain to develop. Think of movement as your brain’s way of “seeing” where your body is. The postural muscles of your spine provide your brain constant feedback of what you are doing and where you are at in space. In order for the postural muscles of the spine to work effectively, the spine needs to move appropriately. If a series of vertebrae (a motor unit) is unable to move correctly, that region can no longer accurately collect and send information about the body to the brain, and vice-versa. Spinal adjustments are crucial for maintaining the integrity of motion in the spine, enabling the body to properly communicate, function and heal. The most important aspect of developmental re-training is the spinal adjustment.
Why would a person need a developmental assessment?
A developmental exam is beneficial for people of all ages. Development is influenced by a variety of things ranging from movement and muscle tone, birth stress, illness, chronic stress, environmental toxins, and epigenetics (how genes turn off and on).
The brain develops from the bottom-up and then regulates all functions from the top-down. If stages were skipped that have altered the bottom-up development of the brain, then it cannot properly regulate and react to the information it receives. When this happens, people begin to have issues with attention, behavior, academics, social skills and coordination. In order for your brain to coordinate its movement system, immune system, spatial awareness system, thoughts, emotions and behaviors, it needs to develop symmetrically and in the correct order.
By identifying the areas that the brain didn’t develop correctly, we can combine spinal adjustments and exercises to re-develop missed stages and balance how the brain functions. Common signs and symptoms go away when the brain can function and coordinate the body correctly.
What does a developmental assessment look like?
Complimentary Consultation: These can be arranged as an in-office visit or a meeting over the phone.
Exam: After determining whether chiropractic care and developmental re-training are right for your child, an exam will be set up to find out exactly what functional systems need help re-balancing. The exam looks at muscle tone imbalances, posture, movement patterns, primitive reflexes, balance, coordination and the system that determines spatial awareness ability.
Meet the Doctor
Dr. Tyler Davis
After graduating from Palmer College of Chiropractic (in Davenport, Iowa) I began my journey working with pediatric patients. During my studies, I interned in an office that focused on helping families experiencing developmental delays, and I became passionate about helping children and families with these issues. I continued this pediatric focus after graduation. My experience working in an office that focused on a functional neurology approach to development has shaped my current practice. My philosophy aligns with the traditional approach to chiropractic care: locating the areas of spinal dysfunction that are causing improper communication between the brain and the body. Then, by adjusting the subluxated areas of the spine, the body restores its ability to adapt to the bombardment of stressors we put it through on a daily basis. Using this approach, together we can move from reactive “fix me” care to proactive “help me stay well” healthcare.