Physiological Biomechanics and Kinesiology of Locomotion
Autonomic Regulation of the Posture of the Body, Righting and Balancing Reflexes
There are certain rules for every forward movement pattern that has developed within the human motor skills, i.e. turning, belly-crawling, crawling on all fours or unaided bipedal gait.
Motor skills of the musculoskeletal apparatus contain the following three inseparable components: the righting and balancing mechanisms that enable the righting of the torso against gravitation and changing the centre of gravity of the torso; balanced autonomic regulation of the posture of the body (postural reactivity); and the phasic motion of muscles with determined angular movement between the segments of the limbs and the axial organ (head and spine), while the angular range during the movement forward is precisely determined in every type of locomotion.
Postural reactivity that contains righting and balancing reflexes and the autonomic regulation of the posture are the genetically determined ability of coordinated regulation of the posture of the body. It can be observed from birth. Refer to V. Vojta 1994.1 “This ability was first described by Arshavski and Krjuchkova (1955, in Kolárova, 1968), who demonstrated, that the new-born can “continuously” turn around in and coordinated fashion, while lying in a supine position in a dark place and being stimulated by a slowly moving light. Thus, it turns towards the light. The new-born watches the ray of light and its body continuously follows from one asymmetrical position to another without a global movement. It’s a mirrored and reciprocal activity. Without this knowledge, Arshavski and Krjuchkova demonstrated that a healthy new-born has the ability of coordinated regulation of the posture of the body. The new-born has postural activity. Through their test, the authors proved that the motor course of turning from the back to the side is not learnt motion. They exclusively spoke of the visual orientation of the new-born.”
If there was so-called “holokinetic locomotion” observed in the new-born, it would be a response of the immature CNS to inadequate stimulus and not its ability to regulate the postural activity.
The development of the autonomic posture of the body, righting and balancing mechanisms in the first year of life is also called postural ontogenesis. Its observation is essential after birth, particularly, because from this time on, the child must struggle with gravity.
From the very moment of birth, these innate motor programs have been launched as they enable other movement patterns (stereotypes) to deal with the Earth’s gravitation.
The goal of the developmental ontogenesis is to create the ability of the CNS to secure and coordinate adequate posture, upright stance and balance for bodily locomotion from place to place and to adjust to variable situations. This allows the genetically determined basic operating program of motion to be firmly encoded into the connections of the neuronal network of the CNS.
The patterns of posture, upright stance and locomotion from a place could be called predetermined motion patterns. Thanks to them, the child learns to recognise the surrounding world. With this precondition, it can subsequently learn the special abilities of fine and gross motor skills.
Posture of the body and movement are mutually dependent on each other. Every change in the position of the body, even a small one, requires the adjustment of the posture of the body to maintain balance.
Vojta principle describes normal legitimate development of movement and the posture of the body (postural development) in a child within the first year of life and subsequently uses it for the diagnosis and the therapy. Normal development of skeleton, fibrous apparatus and fibrous tissue, as well as the development of the muscular apparatus is dependent on the ability of the CNS, in a directly proportional relationship, to develop and establish the basic operating program of locomotion. Without this “software” precondition, the development of “hardware” would be rather irreversibly damaged.
1 VOJTA, Václav. Mozkové hybné poruchy v kojeneckém věku. Praha: Grada Avicenum, 1993. ISBN 80-85424-98-3.
As part of the postural ontogenesis, it is necessary to consider the state of mental development of the child or the level of motor intelligence if applicable. It is directly responsible for the ability of the child to express interest in the outer world and for the ability to adequately react to stimuli. This is called ideomotor skills or motor ideation.
Ideomotor skills are the basic tool for the involvement of all muscles in a myriad of variations. It is related to the actual status of the postural regulation. Differentiation of muscular functions (antigravity, phasic) occurs in every muscle that would participate in the motor development within the postural ontogenesis. Thus, it’s the majority of skeletal muscles.
A child that elevates its head while prone and turns it towards an object of interest could serve as an example of functional differentiation. Normal postural activity is the precondition for coordinated rotation of the head, i.e. autonomic regulation of the posture of the body. It is secured by the muscular groups in the cervical and occipital region that raise the head in the elongation of the nape, specifically in the coordination of the dorsal and ventral muscle groups (including hyoid muscles that serve to swallowing with their phasic function). Only after the precondition of such coordinated elevation of the head is fulfilled, the cervical vertebrae are set within favourable biomechanical parameters (extended and centred) and the phasic movement could be implemented, i.e. free rotation of the head to both sides. Automatically set and secured supporting base is the component of the whole process.
Pathological Biomechanics and Kinesiology of Locomotion
The pathological biomechanics and the kinesiology of the locomotion contain substitute programs of the body’s posture, which intervene with practically all areas of motor skills.
In terms of FUNCTION it recreates:
- Substitute righting and balancing reflexes
- Substitute autonomic regulation of the posture of the body, substitute righting and balance reflexes
- Pathologically changed basic stereotypical movements
- gait mechanism
- grip mechanism
- stereotypical breathing
- stereotypical swallowing, etc.
In terms of MORPHOLOGY, it induces the disorder of:
- Ontogenesis of rotatory directions in the limbs
- Ontogenesis of curves of axes of the axial organ
- Ontogenesis of forming of the ribcage
- Ontogenesis of creation of bearing arches of the feet and the posture of the toes
- Ontogenesis of development of the hip joints
- Ontogenesis of development of the shoulder girdle, arm and hand
- Ontogenesis of development of posture of the pelvis
- Ontogenesis of development of the leg and foot
- Ontogenesis of development of the posture of the head and mandible
The development of the many pathological disorders of the musculoskeletal apparatus in children and adults could be traced back to the period of early ontogenesis of the development within the first year of life. Imperfect posture of the body is a typical impairment manifested in an inadequate or absent righting function. The more severe the impairment is, the more the primitive patterns of posture dominate, and the pathological substitute patterns develop.
Disharmony that develops during the postural righting ontogenesis always projects itself into the targeted phasic gross and fine motor skills. In terms of CNS regulation, the disorders manifested at the level of dysfunction, e.g., mild brain dysfunctions and specific learning disorders (dysgraphia, dyslexia, etc.) represent disorders of central coordination of highly specific fine motor skills. In a certain sense, we can say that these coordination disorders subsequently manifested themselves in intellectual activities. The activity of oculomotor muscles, vocal apparatus and the small muscles of the hand could be classified as highly specific motor skills.
For the normal activity of these muscle groups and their activities, the standard function of the gross motor skills is necessary, including the autonomic regulation of the posture of the body, righting and balancing reflexes.
In children that suffer from the above-mentioned specific disorders, we necessarily find impairment of central coordination during the examination of the musculoskeletal apparatus. They are seen in the incorrect posture of the body and impaired basic stereotypical gait, grip and breathing.
Blockages that prevent the development of the normal righting mechanisms with balancing reactions are responsible for many disorders of the skeleton of the musculoskeletal apparatus itself and the disorders of phasic motion within both basic stereotypical movements and the application programs of gross and fine motor skills, and also the disorders that are not so obviously related to locomotion such as the specific learning disorders.
When evaluating the development of many disorders it is necessary to understand that the existing genetic program is ready to participate in postural ontogenesis. But the blockages of various aetiologies cause the program to be, partially or fully, inaccessible to central neuronal networks. Consequently, the incorrect function of the motor skills themselves occurs and the whole development of the skeleton is deviated. A child affected with central coordination disorder can’t adequately respond to stimuli from its surroundings, which would normally arouse its curiosity and attention because the CNS cannot offer suitable motor skills. If the function of postural and phasic motor skills was impaired, the child would be in danger of remaining in its substitute stereotypical movement patterns, which would damage the postural development.
Trophic features and the development of the limbs are directly dependent on the posture of the body or the normal function of the program of postural ontogenesis as the case may be. This fact is obvious in, e.g., expressed syndromes of infantile diparesis and hemiparesis that are commonly related to the hypoplasia of the paretic limbs. Hypoplasia is also common in postpartum brachial plexus palsy.
Functional and morphological disorders are usually interconnected. That’s why, e.g., a disorder of autonomic posture of the pelvis manifests within the overall autonomic posture of the body in impaired posture of lower limbs, shoulder girdles and other bodily parts.
Animation – Interlinking of the impaired autonomic regulation
1 VOJTA, Václav. Mozkové hybné poruchy v kojeneckém věku. Praha: Grada Avicenum, 1993. ISBN 80-85424-98-3.