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Understanding the problem and addressing the cause
What is neuromotor immaturity (NMI)?
Each child's development should follow a specific developmental sequence as they grow and interact with their environment and their motor skills provide an insight into this developmental progression. Primitive reflexes and postural reactions can be used to establish whether, and at what stage, any disruption to development has occurred as there are recognised periods when primitive reflexes should be active before becoming inhibited and replaced by mature postural reactions. When considered with the child's age, reflex information can inform us of the maturity of function of the individual's central nervous system.
Neuromotor immaturity is functioning of the central nervous system which is below that expected for the biological age of the individual. There is no one specific cause of NMI although genetic factors play a role and it is often the result of a combination of variables throughout pregnancy, birth and infancy. NMI can be identified and assessed through the use of standard neurological tests and can be linked to underdevelopment of the physical abilities required to support many aspects of learning - from the balance, co-ordination and postural control needed to sit still or play sport to the correct eye movements underlying reading, writing, copying and catching a ball.
How can neuromotor immaturity be improved?
If NMI is identifed by thorough screening and assessment, an individual inhibition and stimulation programme is recommended to allow the individual another opportunity to complete the developmental sequence. Simple movements are repeated daily to inhibit any primitive reflexes and to develop postural responses. The exercises, which take approximately 10 minutes per day activate neural pathways and gradually change the reflex profile of the individual leading to changes in motor control, emotional functioning and learning outcomes.
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