What is the Palmer/Grasp Reflex?
In a baby, when you place your finger in his palm, the fingers will close and hold on. This reflex goes back in evolution to when babies clung on to their mother for safety.
If the reflex does not integrate properly the child could have problems with hand and finger control, poor pencil grip, hand writing and hypersensitivity of the hand.
Due to this reflex’s association with the Rooting and Sucking Reflex, this child may often also dribble profusely and suffer delayed speech and articulation. You can often see the child’s mouth and tongue move when they are writing and drawing.
The symptoms of the Palmer/Grasp reflex
Some symptoms of a non-integrated Palmer/Grasp Reflex
- Challenges with motor control of the hands; weak hands
- Poor fine motor (hand, finger) coordination; poor handwriting, drawing, knitting, playing musical instruments
- Unusual pencil grip
- Poor speech, articulation, and communication skills
- Intertwined speech and hand movements which can lead to difficulty with speech.
- Difficulty grasping or letting go of objects, which can also affect sports like golf and baseball
- Associated sensory systems: tactile and proprioception.
Exercises to help the brain developing the Paler/Grasp Reflex
Exercise One - Ball Squeeze
Using a small soft ball first squeeze with all fingers including thumb 20 times. Both hands,
Exercise Two - Finder to thumb squeezes
Then squeeze with each individual finger, moving from one to the other and back again.
Do 20 squeezes for each finger. Both Hands twice daily.
Exercise Three - Drawing, X’s, Alphabets and Shapes
Using a brush or pen firmly stroke the palm in the shape on an X, continue to Draw X’s 20
times or until you can no longer elicit the reflex. Repeat twice daily. Further integration
can be done by drawing the letters of the Alphabet and Shapes and ask the child (eyes
closed) to guess the shape and or letter/numbers.
Exercise Four - Finger Taps/Squeezes
Ask child to firmly press each finger to the thumb, creating a circular shape (pincer grip)
not finger pad pressed against one another.
Repeat 5 times for each finger. Both hands twice daily.
Exercise Five and Six - Wheel Barrow and Circling Thumb Around Finders
Wheel Barrow hold child above
ankle and while keeping the spine
straight ask child to ‘walk’
forwards using their hands.
Do this for 1-2 minutes.
Ask child to use the thumb to circle each finger
3-5 times, try to avoid touching the finger.
All fingers on both hands, twice daily.
Exercise Seven - Push Ups
Ask child to do push ups start
with ONE push up twice daily
and build by 1 push up each
day up to 10-15 push ups
- Day 1 One push up 2/day
- Day 2 Two push ups 2/day
- Day 3 Three push ups 2/day
Day 4 Four push ups 2/day
- Day 5 Five push ups 2/day
- Day 6 Six push ups 2/day