Natural Body Alignment
Reflex response is a basic movement aiming at maintaining upright body position. Static reflexes, also called postural reflexes are responsible for maintaining correct body posture, while statokinetic reflexes, also called simple reflexes, are responsible for getting in to and maintaining upright body position. Static reflexes are present from birth up to six months of age. Statokinetic reflexes are the next to develop; their activity takes place in the second half of the child's first year.
To achieve the neutral body position, a specific pattern is needed. The baby first lies on its back, then learns to roll over on to its front. Next, child is able to take all fours position, which is followed by sitting and kneeling. Finally, holding on to something for support, baby learns to stand upright. The next steps are learning to stand independently on both legs, walking, and standing on one leg. Particular stages of achieving the natural body position are responsible for spinal curves development.
According to the Neurodevelopment Treatment (NDT) most babies achieve the natural position in their 16th month of age. Upright standing is vital while stimulating patients with syndromes of Hypotonia or Hypertonia (low or high muscle tone). A child who is not put into natural position shows a great need for stimulation their body, as they start moving their head and upper body; they also use legs rotation and movements. This often can cause secondary tonic reactions, which prevent the child from achieving the upright position, keeping balance and result in the inability to develop the correct antigravity mechanisms needed.
Advantages of the natural body alignment
The main advantages of the upright position are its positive influence on circulatory, respiratory and digestive systems. It also strengthens bones by improving their mineralisation, enhances muscles functioning by stretching contractures and prevents their degradation, which stimulates the nervous system.
The natural body positions advantages can also be grouped as sensomotor and psychological ones. Upright position improves the body central line, enables regulating the muscles tone, which leads to better proprioceptive sensation in joints and also stimulates the sense of balance, which improves dynamic and static balance for the whole body.
Psychological advantages of the natural position cannot be neglected as upright standing is favourable for child's development. A child who is put in the natural position, has better awareness of their surroundings, because aural and visual stimuli are more easily received. Also, by upright standing, hand-eye co-ordination, and manual functions are improved. Head control is better, therefore it is easier to work with the tongue and develop speech. It also enables children and parents to have "face to face" interaction.