Spinal Galant: What is a Retained Spinal Galant and Why Does it Make my Child Wiggle and Squirm?

Nov 28, 2016 | Diagnosis | 0 comments

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Deep inside the womb, the twenty week old fetus shows signs of an emerging primitive reflex called the spinal Galant. This important reflex assists with the development of the fetus’s auditory processing system and further down the road, the spinal Galant assists with balance and coordination when the baby begins creeping and crawling.

Special thanks to ILS for their help in providing this resource.

The spinal Galant reflex takes an active role in the birthing process, by facilitating hip movements for the infant to move along the birth canal. Its development in the fetus and the newborn is controlled significantly by the many primitive reflexes that emerge and then integrate into another mature response or movement. The entire time lapse of this great development is almost like witnessing an overture with an entire orchestra moving in its individual parts. Some instruments will have their own solos, while others are always playing the melody. The spinal Galant comes in a little later than other reflexes, but the importance of this reflex is not to be overlooked.

Potentially, overall school performance could suffer as a result of a primitive reflex that is simply still present.

If the spinal Galant reflex does not integrate after a child is born, you will notice some of the following signs as your child reaches school-age:

  • ADHD like symptoms
  • Struggles with written and verbal instructions
  • Loses focus frequently
  • Can’t sit quietly
  • Often chooses to do homework or watch TV while lying on the floor
  • Higher chances of bed-wetting when child is potty-trained
  • Dislikes sports or other physically engaging activities
  • Gravitates to loose fitting clothing around hips

Just think, every moment in school can be potentially aggravating for the child with an unintegrated spinal Galant reflex. Something as simple as leaning back in a chair at school may activate the response, causing the child to move and wiggle. The belt or waistband on the child’s clothes can also elicit the response over and over throughout the day, causing the student to pour more mental energy into calming his or her body instead of absorbing the information that the teacher is introducing.

If there is little to no energy left to push the information into working memory and eventually into long-term memory, school performance starts to fracture.

Important Role of the Spinal Galant

When you hold a newborn suspended and face down in the prone position, trace a finger down one side of the lower spine. This will cause the hip on the same side to curl towards the touch, demonstrating a side flexion. If both sides of the lower spine are stroked at the same time, this can activate the reflex and can cause urination.

Does This Reflex Disappear?

The spinal Galant reflex remains present in the baby for about six months after birth. It should then integrate and lay dormant. If the spinal Galant reflex persists in the child after a year, it can potentially be considered a sign of a neurological problem.

The spinal Galant reflex integrates around 6 months after birth.

Signs that a toddler may have a retained spinal Galant include struggles with standing, walking and running. This reflex supports the development of the muscles in the lower back, pelvic area and legs. It is an integral part of preparation to help the child develop gross motor coordination. The toddler may have an unbalanced gait and may trip frequently.

Signs in Toddler and Preschool age Children

  • Unbalanced gait
  • Struggles with running
  • Uncoordinated climbing stairs for a long period of time
  • Trips frequently

When a child with a retained spinal Galant reflex reaches the age to attend school, he or she may experience great challenges with focus and concentration in general. Tight clothing and even certain textures of material may trigger a reflex response on the back and cause fidgeting and squirming. This increases the child’s hypersensitivity to any tactile stimulation. Because of these experiences, the child could have difficulty in concentrating on both verbal and written instructions.

Potentially, overall school performance could suffer as a result of a primitive reflex that is simply still present. Many times, a retained spinal Galant reflex in an older child is misdiagnosed as ADHD. ADHD can also be present, but many times it is the discomfort of a present reflex that is causing the attention problems.

…every moment in school can be potentially aggravating for the child with an unintegrated spinal Galant reflex.

In Symphony of Reflexes, by Bonnie Brandes, she specifically goes over the challenges that someone could experience if the spinal Galant is retained. In the book, Brandes says:

“When the spinal Galant is retained, it is associated with numerous challenges: difficulty with leg control while walking and running, often leading to a dislike of sports; susceptibility to scoliosis and other spinal abnormalities; hypersensitivity to tactile stimulation that causes fidgeting in class and a preference to lie down instead of sitting during activities; challenges’ with focus, concentration, and school performance; poor short-term memory and mental fatigue; impairment in fine motor coordination, notably handwriting; and bed-wetting.”

Exercises to prevent a retained Spinal Galant Reflex

If you have tested your child or student for the Spinal Galant Reflex and are sure they have retained it, they may benefit from specific exercises that can integrate the reflex that should have gone to sleep when they were a baby. Integrating the reflexes may improve the child’s attention and focus, fidgeting and discomfort in the classroom.

The Retained Primitive Reflexes 101 e-Course provides beneficial exercises and contains videos, instructions and pictures to potentially help with retained reflexes. The e-Course is only offered two times a year so join now to save your spot!


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