Child & Family Development Child & Family Development

November 24, 2015

Developmental Reflexes in 1st Year: Protective Extension

Amy Sturkey PT, physical therapist at the Midtown office of Child and Family Development, provides this summary of protective extension reflexes that begin to develop at in the 2nd half of the first year of life. These reflexes remain with the child even after the reflexes have been fully integrated.  

The table below describes what to do to elicit the reflex and what you should see your child do in response.

REFLEX

EMERGING AGE

WHAT TO DO

OUTCOME 

“Parachute” Protective Extension Reflex- Forward

5-6 months; remains with child

While holding the infant in a vertical (upright) position in space with your hands around the infant’s waist, plunge the child downward towards flat surface.

Results in the child extending his or her head, extending the arms and fingers outward as to protect the child from falling. The child blocks the fall by taking weight into his or her arms.

“Parachute” Protective Extension Reflex- Sideways

7-8 months; remains with child

While the child is sitting with legs out in front, push the child on his or her shoulder hard enough to cause the child to lose his balance.

Results in the child reaching out with his arm on the side opposite the push force with extension of the elbow, wrist, fingers to catch himself from falling to his side. The child blocks his fall by taking weight into his open palm and fingers.

“Parachute” Protective Extension Reflex- Backward

9-10 months; remains with child

While the child is sitting with her legs out in front, push the child backwards hard enough to cause the child to lose her balance over her base of support.

Results in the child extending her arms out backwards to protect herself from falling. The child blocks her fall by taking weight onto her extended arms.

Child & Family Development physical therapists are in-network with many insurance plans, including Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC, Cigna, Medcost, North Carolina Medicaid, Primary Physician Care, South Carolina Medicaid and United Health Care.  Our clients also may pay privately and access out-of-network benefits.

 

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