The Vojta Principle
The Vojta Principle is a highly regarded physiotherapeutic method used in the treatment of motor disorders in children as well as in adults. This method is successfully used mainly in neurology, traumatology, and orthopaedics.
The Vojta Principle utilizes the existence of global innate movement patterns which we call reflex locomotion. These patterns (reflex creeping and reflex rolling) can be activated in every individual at any age and they exhibit the same parameters as in vertical movement (locomotion).
During Vojta therapy we activate the innate models of reflex locomotion by utilizing trigger zones and specific initial position. Thus, we enrich the reduced or blocked mobility of patients (we offer them ideal components of human locomotion which they lack) and, therefore, facilitate movement (crawling, walking) and communication. The therapy influences not only gross motor skills (patient’s movement) but also fine motor skills of hands and orofacial area (the muscles of face and speech organs). Last but not least, the reflex therapy also positively affects the vegetative system and patients’ psyche.
We set the goals and specific means of therapy using the Vojta Principle individually according to the condition and character of the motor disorder and also the age of the patient.
Healthy infants develop entirely spontaneously. They automatically use the innate patterns of movement (grasping, rolling, crawling, standing up and walking) with respect to their motivation and the maturity of their central nervous systems. (CNS).
The initiation of these patterns of movement can be blocked in cases of impaired central nervous system or movement apparatus. However, the baby still aspires to contact, grasp, and move forward, and uses any available substitute (imperfect) motor patterns. These imperfect patterns establish themselves over time.
The central nervous system of an infant is immature and forms itself intensely, mainly in first two years of life. Initially, the networks of nerves can be only blocked but not entirely structurally damaged. Early initiated therapy by the Vojta Principle can release or unblock these networks, or create new circuits in the CNS, and thus enable normal motor development of an infant.
10. . Further in childhood (pre-school age, school age, adolescence) immense functional and structural changes occur both in the CNS and movement apparatus (growth spurts, hormonal changes, puberty), which can affect the quality of motor skills or competence of a child. Vojta therapy can positively affect the coordination of movement, the formation and growth of movement apparatus, the sustenance of an already reached state, and mitigate the effects of motor disorder on bone and joint apparatus.
By activating reflex locomotion, we offer adult patients the chance to return to normal movement (original healthy movement patterns), which they have lost as a result of e.g. injury, illness, etc. In adult patients the goal of the therapy is mainly to eliminate pain, increase performance and prevent secondary damage of tissues.
Models of reflex locomotion utilised in Vojta therapy
These models are innate global movement patterns whose partial elements are identical with human ontogenesis. We utilise the ability to activate these innate patterns in the treatment by the Vojta Principle. Therapeutically, we call the individual positions (models) reflex creeping, reflex rolling and 1st position.
It is necessary to select and apply the models to each patient completely individually and purposefully based on the patient’s motor disorder. Therefore, a thorough kinesiologic examination must be performed first. Based on its results, the therapist determines the main problem of the patient, draws up an individual therapeutic programme and precisely directs the therapy accordingly.
17. . Reflex creeping begins from a supine lying position, the head is slightly rotated to one side. The movement pattern is initiated by a goal-directed pressure to defined trigger zones on the body. There are nine zones. We can simply say that we expect the appearance of diagonal support on the elbow and heel with the uprighting of the trunk; the remaining limbs perform stepping movements.
Reflex creeping can be activated in many variations with different combinations of trigger zones. The physiotherapist selects such a combination which aims to affect and treat the motor disturbance of the patient.
Reflex rolling begins from the supine position and continues over the side-lying position to the position on all four and crawling forward. In the therapy, we use the supine position (1st stage) or the side-lying position (2nd – 4th stage). The trigger zone for reflex rolling is the chest zone; in the side-lying position we frequently use the trigger zones on a shoulder blade, trunk and pelvis, or lower limbs.
Reflex rolling can be also activated in many variations which enable us to target the treatment of the main movement disorder of the patient.
1st position begins from the position on the knees with toes pointing over the table edge; the head is turned to one side. This model of reflex locomotion is an impulse for vertical movement. This movement pattern can be initiated from nine trigger zones.
In children with:
- asymmetric development and retarded motor development
- central coordination disorders (CCD)
- cerebral palsy (CP)
- peripheral paresis of upper and lower limbs (e.g. plexus brachialis paresis, spina bifida, etc.)
- various myopathies
- spinal curvature and impairment (e.g. scoliosis) and other orthopaedic conditions
- congenital developmental defects of the movement apparatus as a supplementary therapy to orthopaedic treatment (hip joint dysplasia or dislocation, pes equinovarus)
- disorders or conditions of orofacial area (problems with chewing, swallowing)
- disorders of breathing functions
- vertebrogenic disorders (after a slipped disc, at a limited movement of the spine and joints, at pain in the spine and joints)
- injuries of the movement apparatus
- vascular brain disease with hemiparetic or other disability
- cerebral palsy
- multiple sclerosis
- spinal cord injuries
- peripheral paresis of upper and lower limbs
- myopathic disease
In case of uncertain indication or enquiries, please contact our therapists directly.
Vojta therapy cannot be used in:
- acute illness (inflammatory or feverish, with temperature above 38°C)
- acute watery diarrhoea or intense vomiting
- 2-7 days after inoculation (according to the type of inoculation and reaction to it)
- certain rare illnesses (imperfect osteogenesis)
- certain serious diseases of heart and muscles
In case of uncertain contraindication or enquiries, please contact your physiotherapist.
Professor MUDr. Václav Vojta was a Czech neurologist who played a significant role in the advancement of paediatric neurology, in particular with the emphasis on early diagnostics of motor disturbances in infants.
Prof. MUDr. Václav Vojta discovered the patterns of reflex locomotion. Their therapeutic utilisation is called the Vojta Principle.
Vojta Principal is successfully used to treat various postural and movement disturbances both in children and adults, in particular in treatment of cerebral palsy.
Biography of Václav Vojta
Václav Vojta was born on 12 July 1917 in Mokrosuky, Klatovy region, Bohemia. He finished his medical studies at Charles University in Prague in 1947. He specialized in neurology and later in paediatric neurology.
He worked at neurology clinic of Military University Hospital in Prague since 1948 as an assistant to Professor K. Henner (academic Prof. MUDr. Karel Henner – the founder of Czech neurologic school).
Since 1954 he worked as a medical consultant in an institution for children with CP in Železnice u Jičína.
In 1956 he became the head of paediatric neurology department at the IVth Neurology Clinic of the Medical Faculty of Charles University in Prague.
Between 1961 and 1968 Prof. Vojta was the head of the Faculty Policlinic in Charles Square in Prague
He was deeply interested in developmental kinesiology (the laws and relationships in motor development of infants and children) and systematically worked on the early recognition of the threats to motor development.
Prof. Václav Vojta is the discoverer of the patterns of reflex locomotion.
During therapies of children with CP between 1950s – 1970s, he observed the existence of certain coordinated movement patterns both in the trunk and limbs. These movement patterns could be induced in a child in certain position as a response to directed stimuli; they appeared unconsciously and recurrently. They contained fragments of locomotion – movement forward. Recurrent activation of these coordinated movement patterns led to significant changes in children with CP. Primarily, their speech functions improved, and later they could stand and walk more assuredly. Prof. Vojta called these movement patterns reflex locomotion (reflex, unconscious movement forward).
Therapeutic use of these reflex patterns became known to public as the Vojta Principle.
In 1968 Prof. Vojta emigrated to the Federal Republic of Germany to Cologne where he worked for Prof. Imhauser as a scientific assistant at University Orthopaedic Clinic. Here he could systematically continue in the studies of development kinesiology and his own diagnostic system. Since 1975, Prof. Vojta was the head of the rehabilitation department under Prof. Hellbrugge in Munich Children’s Centre. He kept developing his diagnostic and therapeutic system of reflex locomotion and organized diagnostic courses for doctors and physiotherapists. In 1984, he founded Vojta Society aiming to establish and spread the locomotion principle in diagnostics and therapy not only in Germany but on international scale as well. Another goal was the education of physiotherapists and doctors. In 1995 he founded the International Vojta Society (IVG) with its headquarters in Munich and retired from active service. Until his death, he stayed active and participated in training and further promotion of the Vojta Principle. Professor Vojta died on 12 September 2000 in Munich.
Prof. V. Vojta’s awards and honours
In 1974 Professor Vojta received the Heinrich Heine Prize (the highest award of the German Society for Orthopaedics - Deutsche Gesellschaft für Orthopedie).
In 1979 Aktion Sonnenschein endowed him with the “Growing with Each Other” Medal („Miteinander wachsen“).
In 1983 he won the Ernst von Bergmann Prize for further training in medicine from the German Medical Association.
In 1990 he was awarded the Pfaundler Medal from the Professional Association of Paediatricians for further training of paediatricians.
Professor Vojta was a holder of the Federal Cross of Merit.
He was awarded high honours in Japan and South Korea.
The Collegium Catholicum Medicinae in Seoul (South Korea), named him an honorary professor in 1994.
In 1996 he was given renewed tenure and named emeritus professor of neurology and paediatric neurology at Medical Faculty of Charles University in Prague.
Prof. Vojta was posthumously awarded the Czech Order of Merit by President Havel in 2000.
Published work of Prof. V. Vojta
Během svého života publikoval více než 100 vědeckých prací.
Prof. Vojta published over 100 scientific works in his lifetime. His book “Cerebral Movement Disturbances in Infancy” has been translated into many languages. In 1992 his book “The Vojta Principle”, which has been translated around the world, was first published.