Effects of the Reappearance of Primitive Reflexes on Eating Function and Prognosis
Aim: Primitive reflexes can reappear with diseases of the brain, particularly those affecting the frontal lobes. Most studies on primitive reflexes have reported an association between such reflexes and brain damage, and the clinical symptoms of dementia. These reflexes can also be present during eating; however, their effects on eating function are difficult to evaluate. The purpose of the present study was to identify the frequency at which primitive reflexes reappear in elderly people, and to determine the effects that such reflexes have on eating function, nutritional status and prognosis.
Methods: We followed 121 nursing home residents for 6 months. All patients required long-term care and were examined for the presence of a sucking reflex, snout reflex and phasic bite reflex for baseline measures. Demographic characteristics, physical and cognitive function, and nutritional status were obtained from chart reviews, interviews with nurses, and a brief physical examination at baseline and incidence of aspiration pneumonia during the study period.
Results: The sucking reflex was confirmed in 31 patients (25.6%), snout reflex in 15 patients (12.3%) and phasic bite reflex in 28 patients (23.1%). One or more of these reflexes was identified in 38 patients (31.4%). A relationship between the presence of a primitive reflex and nutritional status was shown. An association with the presence of these reflexes and the development of aspiration pneumonia during 6 months was also confirmed.
Geriatrics and Gerontology International
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