Reflex Integration Exercise: Moro Reflex l Bilateral Coordination l The Popcorn

Reflex Integration Exercise: Moro Reflex l Bilateral Coordination l The Popcorn

What is Moro reflex?

The Moro reflex is a primary reflex pattern that usually emerges in utero and integrates around 4 months after birth.

  • The sensory stimuli include loud noises, a feeling of being dropped, and being startled.

  • The motor response includes fanning and clenching of fingers, spreading or extension of the extremities, followed by a quick flexion of extremities and crying.   

When the Moro reflex is not integrated, but retained, the following symptoms may arise:

  • Sensitivity to sound (auditory defensiveness)

  • Poor coordination

  • Reduced attention

  • Increased distractibility

  • Easily startled and fearful in new situations

  • Increased “fight or flight” responses or anxiety   

  • [and] Light sensitivity

In addition to the work you’re doing with your therapist, consider the following exercises to try at home. In this video you will see some supplemental exercises you can do at home to integrate the Moro reflex. Note, these exercises, by themselves, will not fully integrate the Moro reflex.

The first exercise, I call The Popcorn:

  1. Have the child lay down, supine on the floor, with arms and legs extended.

  2. Encourage the child to bring chin to chest and curl up by supporting knees with their hands. Hold for 3 seconds. (hold body like a kernel)

  3. Then, with control over their movements, have the child bring their body back to its original position. (pop the kernel like popcorn)

  4. Repeat 5 times.

The second exercise is similar to The Popcorn but done on a therapy ball:  

  1. Have the child sit, balanced, on a therapy ball.

  2. Then, have the child lean back and stretch their arms out while simultaneously dropping their head as far as possible.

  3. Lastly, with control, have the child bring their arms and legs back together into a flexed position, as far as the child can manage.

You can adapt these exercises, to make them easier, by giving physical support to the child’s head or body if necessary.

In our next video, I will show you an additional exercise known as The Starfish, which can be used to integrate the Moro reflex.

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