Ever heard of Harald Blomberg? He’s a significant figure in the field of child psychiatry; a Swedish doctor who’s responsible for introducing rhythmic movement training (RMT). For students with developmental and intellectual disabilities, RMT is a great program that targets people with retained primitive reflexes. We’ve talked about primitive reflexes quite a bit over the couple weeks – you can scroll down to read more in my past blog posts if you need to brush up!
But Blomberg didn’t create this program on his own. He was inspired by a Swedish body therapist, Kerstin Linde. When he first met her, Blomberg wanted to overcome his own motor difficulties caused by childhood polio. As Linde’s treatment helped him improve significantly, he asked her if he could sit in during her other treatments, especially for children who suffered from severe neurological challenges.
His research, together with observing Linde’s treatments, made him conclude that spontaneous rhythmic baby movements were of fundamental importance for both motor abilities and development of many faculties, such as speech, emotions and visions. Repeating these movements later on in life could help children and adults who suffer from developmental and intellectual disabilities.
RMT can improve motor abilities and motor control such as coordination, muscle tone and, as I just mentioned, integration of primitive reflexes. It can even help with attention difficulties, hyperactivity, reading and writing. This is because stimulation and linking up different parts of the brain caused by the rhythmic exercises.
In order for RMT to be effective, exercises usually are conducted at least five days a week regularly, and permanent changes might take up to three to six months. For children with more severe challenges, it could take up to a year or more.
Let’s use the example of a child with ADD or ADHD. RMT exercises can be done for 10 to 15 minutes every day. With the help of an instructor and a home program, the child imitates the rhythmic movements that the infant spontaneously make. After continuous exercises, RMT can increase the muscle tone of the extensor muscles, stimulate the nerve nets of the brainstem, cerebellum and more. This can cause the attention and concentration to improve and hyperactivity and impulsivity to decrease. Body posture, breathing and endurance can also improve, helping the child have better focus and body coordination.
We initiated a RMT challenge over the Christmas holiday break from school with some of our students. Learn 2 Focus families who had 20 minutes a day agreed to participate. Positive responses are starting to trickle in already! Be watching for my follow up blog next month which will go over the final results of the challenge.