In the newborn, stroking the low back on one side of the spine will result in side flexion of the lumbar (low back) spine away from that side, with raising of the hip on the same side. It appears to take an active role in the birth process, with movements of the hip helping the baby to work its way down the birth canal. Stimulation down both sides of the spine simultaneously will activate a related reflex, which causes urination.

If the Spinal Galant reflex is retained it may be elicited at any time by light pressure on the low back region causing uncontrollable spinal movement.  The stimulation of bedsheets may activate the related urination reflex, causing bedwetting long after toilet training.


Spinal Galant Reflex retention may lead to:

  • Inability to sit still (the “ants in the pants” child who wriggles, squirms and constantly changes body position)
  • Attention and concentration problems
  • Difficulty co-ordinating normal walking gait
  • Bladder control (bedwetting is common)
  • Can contribute to the development of scoliosis (curvature) of the spine
  • Clumsiness while trying to manipulate objects
  • May affect fluency and mobility in physical activities or sports