Brain-Based Solutions for the Galant Reflex

The Postural Response to Stroking the Lumbar Flank (Part 5 of 5)

 

Introduction

 

The Galant reflex (GR) is better known as a deep abdominal reflex in the newborn. It apparently involves the contraction of the abdominal muscles upon tapping the anterior superior iliac spine or touching the skin along the lateral lumbar spine. Either way, the GR causes the facilitation of the proximal ipsilateral quadriceps.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Reflex

 

The Galant reflex (GR; or Galant’s infantile reflex, named after the Russian neurologist Johann Susman Galant) is commonly observed in newborns and is said to fade between the ages of four and six months of age. The Spinal Galant Reflex is said to be important in the development of hearing and auditory processing, as well as helping to achieve balance when the child is creeping and crawling.


The GR is commonly used to help rule out brain damage at birth. Elicit the GR by holding the newborn in a face down posture (with their stomach in your hand) or laying them on their stomach and stroking along the one side of the lumbar spine. The normal reaction is for a responsive baby to flex the hips and body toward the stroked side. This reaction involves the concomitant functional facilitation of the ipsilateral quadriceps (see the picture above) and a functional inhibition of the ipsilateral hamstrings, eventually helping the baby turn onto its back as their nervous system matures. It has been reported that a presumptive diagnosis can be made in high-risk infants with the use of reflex testing, including the Galant reflex.


The common belief is that a persistent GR response beyond six months of age is a pathological sign. Literature points out that a retained Galant reflex can lead to a child’s ability to control their bladder, which may lead to bedwetting issues at a later age. Further, they may be unable to sit still for any period and/or fidget when wearing waistbands that are too tight or tags in clothing; even the back of a chair can activate the reflex. The reflex is also said to have a great impact on attention and concentration which also affects the short term memory because there is the incessant need to be in constant motion.


The Galant reflex (GR) is better known as a deep abdominal reflex in the newborn. It apparently involves the contraction of the abdominal muscles upon tapping the anterior superior iliac spine or touching the skin along the lateral lumbar spine. Either way, the GR causes the facilitation of the proximal ipsilateral quadriceps.


 


 


 

 

Any fMMT should display exactly as the original author states: the functional facilitation of the abdominal and quadriceps muscles ipsilateral to the side of stimulation. This author believes in the importance of the GR’s integration with the rest of the functional reflexes and has observed a concomitant functional involvement of the ipsilateral hamstrings.


The Galant and Modified Galant reflexes (see the article entitled, “Cortical release signs: the modified Galant reflex using applied kinesiology as functional neurology”) participate in attaining upright posture, otherwise known as the tonic lumbar reflex in the more mature nervous system.


Functional use of this reflex, however, demonstrates this belief to be unfortunate. In reality, the reflex should endure, physiologically integrating itself with the functional matrix that eventually enables upright posture.


Case Study

 

Kelly (37yo) has been a patient for a long period. She came in complaining of lower back pain along her lumbosacral spine and sacroiliac joints bilaterally, with that of the left being more involved than that of the right, for the past two weeks. She had been doing a lot of bending and twisting to unpack boxes after her move, but she felt no specific incident that would create such pain. There appeared to be no other significant history.


Examination

 

With the patient in the prone posture, the hamstrings appeared to be able to meet the demands of manual muscle testing bilaterally. Further, tapping the tendons of the origin and insertion of the ipsilateral medial hamstrings caused appropriate facilitation of that hamstring. Subsequent deep tendon stimulation of the tendons of the hamstring’s origin and insertion appeared to be appropriate on each side.


Stroking the skin over the distal paraspinal muscles on either side from the dorsolumbar spine to the sacroiliac joint with a sharp object (to stimulate the GR), appeared to cause a functional facilitation of the ipsilateral hamstring (see the table below).
Discussion: The appropriate GR display involves the facilitation of the ipsilateral quadriceps. Therefore, the reciprocal response (see part 4 of 5, “Brain-Based Solutions™ for the Crossed Extensor Reflex”) should cause inhibition of the ipsilateral hamstrings.
One general rule in applied kinesiology is that the bilateral involvement of a muscle indicates a possible spinal fixation, and each muscle involvement indicates a particular level of the fixation. For example, a bilateral hamstring involvement suggests a possible sacral fixation. In Kelly’s case, the hamstrings appear to be functionally facilitated when tested individually, with a persistent functional facilitation relative to the functional facilitation of the ipsilateral quadriceps secondary to nociceptive stimulation; a pathological display.

Treatment

 

A sacral challenge revealed the need for its coupled structural manipulation. Subsequent reevaluation of Kelly’s GR indicated a normal response—functional inhibition of the hamstrings ipsilaterally and functional facilitation of the hamstrings contralaterally.

 

Summary

 

This patient is a neurotypical 37 years old female. She has no frank brain pathology. The GR showed itself to be a valuable part of her functional neurological examination. It revealed a functional sacral instability, with treatment bringing about the proper resolution of that dysfunction. The GR should be a fundamental part of every patient’s neurological examination.

Medical literature indicates that the GR is physiologically present from birth through about the sixth month; it is always pathological at any older age.


This author fundamentally disagrees with the assertion of the Galant reflex’s disappearance. Clinical practice has demonstrated that the GR is an important of human performance in every patient no matter their age, and the pathological finding is the one that shows a dysfunctional response to functional manual muscle testing (MMT).


Any fMMT should display exactly as the original author states: the functional facilitation of the abdominal and quadriceps muscles ipsilateral to the side of stimulation. This author believes in the importance of the GR’s integration with the rest of the functional reflexes and has observed a concomitant functional involvement of the ipsilateral hamstrings.

This author fundamentally disagrees with the assertion of the Galant reflex’s disappearance. Clinical practice has demonstrated that the GR is an important of human performance in every patient no matter their age, and the pathological finding is the one that shows a dysfunctional response to functional manual muscle testing (fMMT).

It is unfortunate that the general medical belief holds the GR to be pathological if it persists beyond six months of age. Actually, it is essential to attain upright posture.

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