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Reflex integration English

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What’s a reflex

We all know what a reflex is, for example, if I move my hand very quickly to someone’s eye that they automatically close their eye and often have a startle reaction that causes them to move backwards.

It is an automatic response to a sensory stimulus, which can be touch but also something you see, hear, smell or taste.

We all need reflexes. The purpose of reflexes is to be able to protect ourselves and also to develop and function.

When do reflexes arise?

Reflexes occur right from conception. Through automatic movements, the fetus grows. We don’t have to think about that. That happens automatically. Also, for example, that a baby starts kicking in the belly. These are automatic movements and actually already exercises of the baby that they need later in life, for example, for math.

From short-term to lifelong

All these movements are all automatic, reflex movements required for a short period of time and are all movements controlled by the brainstem. If these movements are practiced enough then they are taken over by other movements. An example of this is that a baby first still lies down, then starts rolling and then moves from crawling to standing and walking.

From primary to postural

That means that some reflexes are meant for a specific period, namely during pregnancy, childbirth and just after childbirth, and other reflexes you keep all your life. We call the reflexes you need for a specific period primary reflexes. You can think of the reflex needed to lie in the fetal position during pregnancy. The reflexes you need for a lifetime, the lifelong or postural reflexes, here you can think about being able to walk, for example. You need reflexes that work against gravity so that you can still stand and move around.


Sometimes something goes wrong

Sometimes a reflex is still present that really should have already taken over. This can happen for many reasons. Often it has to do with childbirth. For example: the delivery went very fast. Because of this, certain reflexes have not been practiced enough.

Or there was a lot of negative stress so that the reflexes could not be practiced properly.

Or the baby was born with a cesarean section as a result of which some reflexes have not been practiced at all.

Reflexes can also become active again after birth. Think of children who go to school and start peeing their pants again. A traumatic event can therefore make reflexes become active again. This is necessary for survival.

If reflexes have not been practiced enough, they cannot be taken over as a matter of course by a new reflex. The reflex is then not integrated. You can see this in movements, postures and behavior. This is because your body then starts to compensate.

Above are some examples of consequences that can occur if primary reflexes are not yet sufficiently integrated.

En zo zijn er nog veel meer. Er is niemand bij wie alle reflexen voldoende zijn geïntegreerd. Maar het gaat erom of we hier last van hebben.


How does reflexintegration work?

A movement never happens by itself. First the body has to understand what it has to do. That is exactly what happens in reflex integration. There is a signal, the brain reacts and a connection is made with the body. This is also called neuro sensory motor reflex integration. Besides movement, this is also related to emotions. For example, if you are not standing firmly on your feet, it can be seen literally but also figuratively. Therefore, by integrating reflexes it can not only help improve movement but it also has an effect on our emotions. We are going to experience from within what it is e.g. to stand firmly on your legs.

Reflexes can thus be practiced at a later time through touch and movement and thus still be integrated with the goal of restoring a healthy development. Exactly as originally intended.

Reflex integration is thus aimed at restoring and maturing the central nervous system (brain, spinal cord, nerves). Specific programs focus on integrating “separate” reflexes as well as a combination of reflexes. The latter may include, for example, reducing stress.

Look for a video on reflex integration from MNRI:



Reflexintegration is:

  • A unique method for anyone who has experienced developmental skew, leading to difficulties in their daily functioning.

  • As long as a reflex has not yet weakened and/or been replaced by another (lifelong) reflex, the (primary) reflex remains active. Every time a specific sensory stimulus is given, the reflex will react automatically. You can’t do anything about it!!

  • Only by integrating the reflex at a later time can it weaken, as intended.