Tonic labyrinthine reflex… part of the puzzle

A bit of physiology – the tonic labyrinthine reflex (TLR) is a primitive reflex found in newborn babies. With this reflex, tilting the head back while lying on the back causes the back to stiffen and even arch backwards, the legs to straighten, stiffen, and push together, the toes to point, the arms to bend at the elbows and wrists, and the hands to become fisted or the fingers to curl.

Unfortunately, if the TLR hangs around (as well as the asymmetrical tonic neck reflex (ATNR) after 6 months of age, it can often indicate that bub’s has developmental delays/neurological issues. This is referred to as abnormal extension pattern or extensor tone…and this is patterning is clearly evident in our little Chiara.

And it now makes sense why the genetic doc was blunt with me, even before the MRI findings, as she could see this physical presentation in C.

So as I am learning –  the TLR and ATNR both hinder functional activities such as rolling, bringing the hands together, or even bringing the hands to the mouth, which is contributing to Chiara’s delay in her ability to roll, sit unsupported, crawl etc. You can see in the photo’s below, how the extensor reflex plays out. When I pop her over the bolster, she automatically pushes out into a straight line (what we call the washboard!), but with a little gentle manipulation, we can prompt her body to relax the tone and kneel over the bolster, which breaks the extensor reflex.

I did find info stating that over time, both the TLR and ATNR can cause serious damage to the growing child’s joints and bones, causing the head of the thighbone to partially slip out of the hip socket (subluxation) or completely move out of the hip socket and dislocate. This is just part of the mysterious puzzle of how Chiara is developing. Hence why therapy (DAILY) with Yoga, Osteo, Physio etc is imperative..


You may also like

Leave a comment