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Reflex vs voluntery movements

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  • Reflex vs voluntery movements

    Just a couple of questions,

    recently we we have been told that it is almost impossible to diagnose incomplete vs complete injury in babies and toddlers? Is this true, or is there a way we can check?

    Secondly, Noah has been exhibiting a LOT of new movements in feet and legs, and some of these movements rehab place cannot tell if it is a reflex or intentional. When I was recently looking at his MRI it seemed most of the tumour was at the back of the spinal cord and he does not have sensetuon below injury level, could it be hard for him to know he has legs?

    some of the movements are for example, when he is yawning moving his legs upwards and downwards. When he is in high chair and reaching for something moving his legs and feet in different directions, and separately.

  • #2
    Yes, it is nearly impossible to determine reflex vs. voluntary movement, or properly assess sensation, in infants. Tests such as an SSEP can be done to help determine some of the damage that exists, but are also difficult to do in children, and can be painful.

    The SCI-Nurses are advanced practice nurses specializing in SCI/D care. They are available to answer questions, provide education, and make suggestions which you should always discuss with your physician/primary health care provider before implementing. Medical diagnosis is not provided, nor do the SCI-Nurses provide nursing or medical care through their responses on the CareCure forums.


    • #3
      MomNoah, when I'm in my wheelchair and lean far forward, my knee bends. When I'm in bed and lean back, my leg stiffens and much so that a rude aide in the hospital accused me of faking paralysis, saying, "She can move! I saw her move her leg!" This was in the first months after my injury. They were giving me Baclofen at the time. I think now that when the Baclofen was in effect, I didn't have such strong and consistent reflexes, I wasn't able to "count on" what would or would not happen to my lower body when I moved my upper body,...but that when the Baclofen would wear off, then those strong reflexes would manifest. Eventually, I researched and made the decision to stop taking Baclofen. Now, my body's response to re-positioning has a good degree of consistency. I can pretty much "count on" certain movements to trigger certain other reactions. Noah isn't on Baclofen, is he?
      Female, T9 incomplete


      • #4
        He is not on any medication.

        we had experiences with reflexes but they just seem so inconsistent, in terms of one leg will move, or the other, in different directions and feet etc. He has gotten more tone then before in the last couple of months, and can now stand supporting himself (locks knees), he also sometimes squeezes his legs together like from V to ll if that makes sense, and it doesn't matter whether his knees are bent or not. Again, not sure reflexes or not, but it is new movement. So, can you get new reflexes and it not mean anything this late...ten months post.
        However, it's a silly question, but how do people that don't have sensation but have movement experience their legs?


        • #5
          It sounds like he has quite a bit of voluntary movement, and perhaps new movement. What happens though is that, with time and practice, we come up with more and better ways to use whatever we have. Eventually, we don't think of each skill as something 'separate'. Rather, we start to string these newfound skills together in order to accomplish something. So, even for a completely verbal adult, it's sometimes hard to explain to another person the sequence of what we are doing and "why". I have sensation, but no brain-directed movement, so I'll leave answering that part of your question to an "expert".
          I'm glad he isn't on Baclofen. Brain damage is the last thing we need!
          Female, T9 incomplete