Anyone who has been to the doctor has probably been through a reflex test. What is a reflex? It is a nerve circuit simply responding to outside stimuli by caused a muscle contraction. The most common type of reflex testing in adults is done by hitting the knee with a small rubber hammer. The resulting jerk confirms the health of the lower spinal cord. By testing reflexes in such a matter, doctors can confirm that the spinal cord has not sustained any injuries without turning to more intrusive exams.
Another common reflex test for babies evaluates the Moro reflex. This occurs when the baby loses their support all of a sudden. This reaction has led scientists to the belief that the fear of falling is the only unlearned fear found in human newborns. The reflex usually disappears when the child is about five months old. One of the most well-loved actions by babies is when they grasps the finger of their mother or father. Most parents, however, are not aware that this is a reflex and not a sign of affection. Any child of six months or less will grab anything that touches its palm; this reflex is known as the Palmer grasp.
At two year old and younger, the Babinski’s reflex is present. Parents can perform this reflex test on their child at home by stroking the sole of the foot in a firm manner. The involuntary action that occurs caused the big toe pointing upward while spreading out the others. Did you know we have the walking reflex at birth as well? During this reflex test, a baby must be lifted into a standing position with their feet against a flat surface, usually the examine table. It is important to remember that although their feet will step forward, a newborn cannot support its own weight.
Your child’s pediatrician will more likely perform at least one reflex test each visit, if not more. If you see the same test repeated at multiple visits, there is no need to be alarmed. By keeping track of the reflexes of babies, doctors can discover any health issues that may occur sooner. Most of the time, reflex testing simply serve as a way for parents to watch their newborn act cute without even trying.