Preemies or children that were born full term can suffer complications such as a brain injury for many different reasons which can include lack of Oxygen, trauma to the brain either before or during birth and can result in a variety of developmental delays that may not be noticeable until regular milestones such as sitting, rolling over standing etc. are not reached. For most of these children Cerebral Palsy will be the diagnosis finally given.

This delay in normal development may cause children not to reach the normal milestones and in most cases will have a continuation of infantile reflexes which most children grow out of during their first week after birth.

The continuation of these infantile reflexes can greatly hinder the progress of your child such as the Moro reflex an exaggerated startle reflex where a child upon hearing a loud noise will arch backward and throw their hands up. This reflex is very dangerous for a child learning to sit or walk as they may fall backwards and hit their head if startled.

Another common infantile reflex is "mirroring" where a child tries to move one limb and the opposite limb moves at the same time this can prevent learning to crawl or walk. Many of you may see your child bunny hopping where both legs are moved at the same time.

Another reflex may cause a child to arch their back and lock their knees when their toes touch the floor, this also inhibits their ability to learn to step.

Our children need to learn to overcome these and many more infantile reflexes as well as learn to develop movements in a more correct fashion that will allow function. We use a series of exercises that breakdown the individual components of movement and then combine these movements into functional daily routines.

Some of the aims or goals that we may have for children depending on their present condition are listed below:

General Skills:

  • To develop hand-eye coordination.
  • To reduce uncoordinated over movements.
  • To develop coordination of movements.
  • To increase security and balance.
  • To increase attention and independent task solutions.
  • To increase activity, independence, participation and level of attention in group activities.
  • To follow task and keep relaxed position.
  • To achieve, or at least approach orthofunction.
  • To teach the parents how the children can apply the abilities learned to every day activities.

In a Lying Position:

  • To learn to stretch and separate upper and lower limbs,
    keep wrist and feet in a correct position, head lifted and in a mid line position.
  • To reduce unwanted simultaneous and over movements,
    to learn to keep the state of rest for a longer period of time.
  • To learn the basic movements of upper and lower limbs,
    rolling over in both directions, sitting up.
  • To learn to stretch upper and lower limbs, maintain them in a correct position.
  • To learn to keep back in a corrected position in various positions.

In a Sitting Position and Manipulation:

  • To learn to relax upper and lower limbs and achieve correct foot and wrist position.
  • To learn to keep back in a corrected position in various positions.
  • To learn secure and correct independent sitting position either with or without support.
  • To develop basic and fine manipulation abilities, differentiated finger movements.
  • To develop manipulative abilities, grasping and releasing, transferring toys between hands.
  • To learn aiming tasks.

In a Standing - Walking Position:

  • To learn to stretch upper and lower limbs, maintain them in a correct position.
  • To develop stretching and separating of lower limbs in different positions, relaxation of hips.
  • To teach child to fall securely.
  • With decreasing help, learn correct weight bearing, weight shift and increase security of standing while grasping with both hands.
  • To learn bending and lifting legs up when stepping, keep hips in a straight position with reduced help.
  • To learn to walk with sticks or canes securely.
  • To increase security of standing and walking
  • To learn to step with correct length and width of stepping.
  • To learn to bear weight on legs with support for longer periods of time,
    to prevent collapsing, by keeping lower limbs in a corrected position.
  • To learn to keep heels down.

Eating, Dressing and Potty:

  • To teach her/him to eat with a spoon, to chew correctly, to drink from a cup with reduced help.
  • To increase independence in dressing/undressing.
  • To develop potty training, to teach her/him to sit on a potty with support/alone.
  • To learn to use the toilet.

Speech:

  • To attain correct breathing for longer periods of time.
  • To make sounds.
  • To develop vocalization and to encourage the use of simple words.
  • To learn to reduce dribbling.
  • To encourage him or her to speak more loudly.
  • To use sound instead of signaling.

It takes many muscles to move in coordination to do something as simple as taking a drink from a cup, for instance; the trunk must tighten in order for it to support lifting an arm, the muscles in the shoulder, bicep and forearms must tighten to raise the arm while the opposing muscles such as the triceps must loosen to allow the arm to move, the brain must realize the position in space of the cup and the arm as it is moving, fingers must grasp the cup and lift it to the mouth, lips must seal around the cup before it can be tilted and the contents swallowed.

We take so much for granted every day, however our children may have to work very hard to achieve what is common for the rest of us. It is important for every parent to know that with the proper training for them plus a solid and consistent learning environment at home Children Can Learn!