Today we have a guest post from Alyson Vinciguerra. She gives us an informative and comprehensive introduction to the Masgutova Method® (MNRI). Alyson is a Core Specialist with the Svetlana Masgutova Educational Institute®.
As an OT there are many techniques in my toolbox; however the Masgutova Method has proven to be the most foundational tool I have found.
What Is MNRI?
A program developed by Russian Psychologist and Scientist, Dr. Svetlana Masgutova.
MNRI stands for Masgutova Neurosensorimotor Reflex Integration
The MNRI method features the use of specifically trained techniques directed toward the restoration of the brain’s early neuronal circuits, which are developed through the primary motor system.
These primary movements, described by Dr. Masgutova and others, have been referred to in the literature as “primitive reflexes.”
How Does It Work?
Dr. Masgutova’s techniques are aimed at addressing “reflexes gone astray” to restore the brain’s foundational structure upon which higher level skills such as attention, language, social finesse, and academic learning are built.
Each person has the genetic programming for motor reflex patterns, which are referred to as primary movements by Svetlana Masgutova. The main function of these primary movements is to create and myelinate (strengthen) the nerve network of the brain. This is nature’s way of developing our brain. These primary movements are vital for our protection and survival as well as helping to regulate our bodies. These primary movements trigger the development of our senses.They also help to link our sensory systems together, promoting proper sensory integration. Primary movements are the source of sensorimotor and whole brain development, which are the foundation for learning.
A primary reflex, also known as a primitive reflex, consists of a three part circuit: 1) sensory stimulation, 2) brain processing and 3) motor response. Errors can occur in this three part circuit. If a problem occurs, then maturation and integration of this reflex will not take place. This causes the nerve network of the brain to be underdeveloped. The Masgutova Method techniques help remind the body of this three part circuit, which allows the brain to strengthen its connections.
When implementing the Masgutova Method, sensory stimulation is provided for a reflex pattern which is followed immediately with the correct motor response. Since the unique pairing of a specific stimulation and motor response is genetically coded in our brain, the body recognizes this vital combination, and says “I need that” and through repetition adopts that reflex pattern as a normal response.
The program was created to foster brain development and enhance human potential for children and adults with some of the following challenges:
Dyslexia and Hyperlexia
Cerebral Palsy (CP)
Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)
Attention Deficit Disorder/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD/ADHD)
Sensory Processing Disorders (SPD) – including those of the auditory and visual systems
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)
Other symptoms including immune system deficiencies, chemical imbalances, metabolic disorders and allergies
Dr. Masgutova emphasizes that primitive reflexes, once believed to extinguish as the brain develops, do not disappear but rather, are integrated into the development of more purposeful and goal oriented behaviors.
What Kind of Treatment Techniques Are Involved?
Each treatment plan consists of the set of primary motor reflex patterns found to be dysfunctional during an individual assessment and include integrating exercises for reflexes that:
Integrated when they were supposed to but subsequently re-surfaced and need to be re-integrated
Did not integrate when they should have and need to be integrated
Never emerged when they should have and need to be activated and integrated
Why Is All Of This So Important?
Results of Dr. Masgutova’s work show the importance of addressing the primary motor system in any rehabilitative program.
Dr. Masgutova maintains that these reflexes are the units for sensory-motor and proprioceptive integration which enhance brain processing and are essential for human development.
When our reflexes are immature or not functioning properly, the brain causes our body to function in a survival mode. This happens even when there is no immediate danger. When operating in survival mode, your awareness and ability to interact with the world is diminished. This can result in a decreased attention span, poor cause & effect thinking, problems with motor skills, anxieties and troublesome behaviors.
By using the MNRI program to correct the problems with our primitive reflexes, we can help improve skills and thinking, which in turn leads to a happier and more productive life.
IRBs have been obtained and research to further validate the MNRI method is currently being conducted through Keiser Presidente Health Care in San Mateo, CA.
See the following website for more information on the program and current and past research: www.MasgutovaMethod.com