Children’s Chiropractic Centre Blog

How can the brainstrem help a child's brain and body be efficient in learning and play?

Posted by Dr Amanda Watson on 18-May-2020 10:00:00

_C0A5702How does an integrated brainstem help prepare your child's brain and body develop and thrive in class and play?

The brainstem is at the base of the brain and skull and it is the oldest and most primitive part of our human brains. The major role of the brainstem is to control the functions of basic survival. Things like breathing, swallowing, digesting and heart rate are examples of this.

Along with survival, the brainstem has a very big job in sensing and controlling many aspects of our body. To keep it simple and relevant to your child who is going back to school, the main thing you need to be aware of about the brainstem is that this is where the primitive reflexes are located in the brain.

Primitive reflexes are very old patterns of sensation and movement that help us in the womb, to be born, and to feed and survive as a newborn. These reflexes are an important part of development for a baby but they are not so helpful for an older child and can get in the way of optimal learning and play.

As a child develops, the primitive reflexes become integrated, or absent, because the cortex, or younger clever part of the brain takes over control of our body to make our hands, feet and face less sensitive and our movements smooth and coordinated rather than jerky and primitive.

Primitive Reflexes-1What If there are issues with how well the cortex is functioning/developing?

If there are issues, we might see the presence of primitive reflexes in children beyond infancy, because the cortex is having trouble switching them off.

When we have a brain that is irritated, exhausted or having trouble integrated old unwanted patterns we will often see a child that has difficulty controlling their behaviour and their body.

Signs of issues with how well their cortex in functioning/developing:

  • Over sensitive to light, touch or sound
  • Fatigue easily
  • Have difficulty developing good postural strength
  • Have lowered resilience and certainly lowered levels of vitality
  • They can seem wired and can be easily overstimulated
  • Concentration and focus is usually low because primitive reflexes can be quite distracting for the cortex when it’s trying to learn.


As a child progresses through their learning years, you may notice difficulty with tasks like reading and writing. Swimming, ball and racquet sports can also be challenging if primitive reflexes are present.

An integrated brainstem is a sign that a child’s cortex, or clever brain, is working well and is ready to focus and concentrate on learning and playing in a school environment. There are specific checks we can do as Chiropractors to see if a child has primitive reflexes present and how this might be impacting their development and learning.

We are here to help to bring healthcare to the forefront of family living and empower your children to be tomorrow’s health ambassador’s!  If you have any questions about your child’s brain stem or primitive reflexes, you can book in a free 15 minute phone consultation with Dr Amanda, to find out how you can support your child.

Book 15min consult with Dr Amanda



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