The #1 Missing Link In Gross Motor Development

By PX Docs Educational Team
The #1 Missing Link In Gross Motor Development | PX Docs

So many parents report to us that they’ve seen some incredible progress and improvement with their child in movement-based therapies like PT when faced with some gross motor development challenges, but over time often run into some tough spots and start to plateau.

Nearly every single time in those cases we find out there is ONE crucial aspect of gross motor function that has not yet been found and taken care of… and so when parents do learn about that missing link and how to get it improved and back online, progress and development take off like a rocket once again!

what is Neuromotor Development?

The first thing you need to understand is why we need to put five letters in front of “motor development”. Those letters are N-E-U-R-O, giving us neuromotor development – the central and autonomic nervous system, which on its own has a tone or setting to it. Think of it like a dimmer switch or an engine on a car. A good, healthy tone is relaxed, but also strong and ready at the same time. An unhealthy nervous system has a mix of both – too much tone and tension, and also other areas that have too little tone or are too weak. You can’t have a weak core or end up with weak tone if you don’t first have a stuck, tight, tense energy tone somewhere else. 

What we find all the time is that kiddos who are struggling with gross motor development, might have a lot of tension in their lower extremities, but have weakness in their core. The parents are always trying to do stretches and massages to decrease that tension somewhere, but also strengthening exercises to bring up that tone. 

If you Google “gross motor development”, you read articles all about the extremities – the arms, legs, core, or even the pelvis. But there’s actually something that develops first.

We all have a Central “Hub”

The way God designed us is to have a central hub of motor neurofunction first. I want you to think of the spine – we call it the neuro-spinal system or neuromuscular spinal system. The spine is 20+ different vertebrae filled with so many intricate muscle connections going in all sorts of different directions. You can even break down this neuro-spinal system into three tiers of one motor system – the neck, thoracics or torso, and pelvic system. 

The way motor development is supposed to happen starts with the neck first, then the torso, then the core. So think of a baby’s motor development… first, they’re supposed to be able to use their jaw to turn, latch, nurse, eat, and swallow. Next, they develop their head and neck, then tummy time with the torso, then they roll over and finally, they engage the core.

The number one missing link in gross motor development is to actually evaluate the hub of the extremities and core. The neuro spinal system is the most important motor system in the entire body.

Before we can initiate movement of our extremities – every single movement from our pinky finger to our pinky toe – there is a neuromotor activation within the neuro-spinal system that sets it in motion. If a child is delayed or struggling with their gross motor, it actually starts in the central hub and we need to look there first.

Taegen’s Story Of Hope

Taegen came to us for an intensive program at our clinic which is when patients receive neurologically focused adjustments twice a day. She came and got twice-a-day adjustments for two weeks because up until that point, close to her third birthday, she had been doing PT for almost two years and was still not able to stand or walk on her own.

Additionally, Taegen really struggled with sleep and constipation. Almost every single child with gross motor development issues has gut, respiratory, and lymphatic drainage issues as well. Since their body isn’t moving well on the outside, it’s also not moving great on the inside.

Once you see how important the neuro-spinal system is, you can understand why you need to add a pediatric chiropractor to your team to not just evaluate the core and extremities, but to evaluate the hub using our technology called INSiGHT Scans. We use this insight technology to measure, quantify, and locate what’s called a subluxation, which gets in the way of this neuromotor function. 

The Power of Insight Scans

First, we looked at her thermal scan. Taegen’s thermal scan showed a ton of tension at what’s called the atlas and the axis area of the neuro-spinal system. The atlas is nicknamed that because it is said to hold up the weight of the world. Brain function has a brain stem and is really correlated around the atlas and so is the vagus nerve – also extremely important. 

Taegen’s scan had a huge cluster of stress at C2 and C3, the axis.  The total function of C1 and C2 together in this brainstem is where all cerebellar neuromotor coordination happens. Think of that area as air traffic control. Literally, the tone of the muscles just around the base of the skull and the neck account for 33% of all neuromotor sensory input into the brain. We followed that and looked at her EMG scan, which showed the most amount of tension in her neck.

We can actually measure motor tone through technology. We’re measuring electromyography, which is what’s called surface spinal, and we measure the tension on the neuro-spinal system. All of Teagen’s neuro-spinal tension was excessively activated on the left side. Some of them were showing that the muscles and nerves on the left side of her system were 400% tighter and tenser than the other side. This is what we call asymmetry. 

If you want to dive deeper into the evaluation of Taegen’s scans, check out Dr. Tony’s video below.

To reiterate, if your kiddo has gross motor issues, they are probably experiencing constipation and immune issues as well as sensory, emotional, social, and behavioral issues. 

The gross motor system is the ticket to getting these kids better.

Subluxation is our word for what chiropractors find and take care of, and it’s the missing link to helping these kiddos. The first problem with subluxation is that you end up with areas of too much tone. The most common subluxation comes from birth trauma (that’s where Taegen’s came from), like C-sections, the use of forceps, or vacuums. These are the kids who were colicky and had torticollis, or plagiocephaly when they were little.

So you have increased tone in the neck and neuro-spinal system, but that causes decreased tone in the core. This was the case with Taegen because she had tension in her neck and torso, but weakness in her core. No matter how much PT they did to strengthen her core, that core was not going to stay stable because of that. 

The second thing that happens with subluxation is that it affects coordination or causes gravitational imbalances.

So their ability to keep the right side of the brain, (which controls the muscles on the left side of the body) and the left side of the brain, (which controls the muscles on the right side of the body) in sync is extremely challenging. 

Taegen’s birth was quite traumatic and had a lot of challenges, so this was a case where the subluxation is really, clearly seen. 

There is no such thing as a little subluxation. 

Sure, there are subluxations that are not as neurologically jamming things up, but if your child has even a little bit of gross motor delays or is a bit too tight and tense, or a little too weak and uncoordinated in other areas, it affects their brain development. 

As they go from two to three, those parts of the brain are supposed to be fed good, organized, coordinated information from the body to the brain. Then that goes to the prefrontal cortex, the parietal, which is in charge of speech and communication. It’s in charge of sensory, emotional, and behavioral regulation. So if you have a motor system that is too tight or tense in some places, too weak and suppressed in others, and uncoordinated or confused – you’re going to have a brain that gets too wound up or exhausted, and you’re going to have disorganized, struggling neurodevelopment as a whole.

In summary, the number one, most under-evaluated system is the neuro-spinal system. We would actually hone in further on the neck, cervical spine, and brainstem, and go all the way back to birth trauma. It’s imperative to find out if that kiddo experienced any type of birth trauma.

Finding that subluxation and tension on the neuro-spinal system is the missing link for countless families.

In order to find it, you need to find a pediatric, neurologically focused chiropractor who knows what to look for and uses the correct technology (INSiGHT scans), and then has the protocols in place using neuro tonal adjustments. These will take tension off of the area that is too tight and will activate, stimulate and strengthen the areas of the core and torso that are too weak, therefore organizing the nervous system.

Check out our PX Docs directory to find a pediatric chiropractor near you that will help you find that subluxation in your child’s neuro-spinal system – truly the missing link to get your child’s gross motor development back on track. Then their gut, immune system, speech, social, and emotional challenges will be on track as well. Finding that missing link could mean all the difference in the world for your family. God bless and be well.

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