What is NMI?
Neuro-Motor Immaturity describes a reduced functionality of the central nervous system. Neurological development has not proceeded in a way to facilitate a full integration of motor responses with the rest of the sensory system.
During a normal pregnancy the baby develops primitive reflexes to prepare for birth and those post natal movements such as reaching to suckle, clinging to carers and building up muscle tone with kicks and wriggles. Over the course of the first year these primitive reflexes act as stimulants for the baby to move and strengthen its muscles towards a more voluntary mode of action, such as picking up objects to investigate and manoeuvring to explore its environment.
As these moves are practised repetitively and the baby learns about everything in his or her world, neural connections are made through processing this sensory information about what they touch, see, hear, taste, and smell.
These primitive, survival-oriented movements are meant to be inhibited by higher centres in the brain to make way for postural reflexes which enable the baby to develop more sophisticated postural control. This does not happen in a set order, with exact timing; instead, there is often an overlap of activity and key developmental milestones will be achieved at slightly different times between individuals. Postural reflexes can take up to three and a half years to fully develop.
If the primitive reflexes stay active, because they were never inhibited, they can interfere with the body’s ability to establish hand-eye coordination, balance, motor control and perceptual skills, thus having major impact on all parts of daily life.
What causes NMI?
There is no single cause. Various factors such as illness or stress during pregnancy, prolonged labour or birth complications, genetic disorders and a child’s environment during infancy can all play their part.
Why is it important to check now if there are signs of NMI?
In some cases, balance or coordination issues have their basis in retained primitive reflexes and it’s always useful to carry out tests on the vestibular system to assess the likelihood of inner ear imbalances. Using a wide range of standard neurological tests, I can start to build a more detailed picture of what’s going on for the client. Following a Johansen programme can promote better balance through the improvement of the auditory signalling network and occasionally I might also give some simple exercises to aid the therapeutic outcome.
Neuro Development Therapist
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Rachel, for her 9 year old son
INPP Screening Questionnaire
If you think your child has symptoms of neuro-motor immaturity, fill in the free online INPP Screening Questionnaire and I will contact you.