The Masgutova Neurosensorimotor Reflex Integration Program (MNRI®) was created by Svetlana Masgutova, PhD in Poland. She has since brought this program to the United States providing training to parents and professionals.
As an MNRI® Core in Training, I incorporate this reflex integration/re-patterning work into most of my sessions. MNRI® works from the level of the reflexes and the central nervous system.
Our primary reflexes serve as the foundation for all volitional/functional movement and cognitive development, but beyond that, this work supports the nervous system by addressing areas of the tactile system, auditory/visual system, and stress hormones. MNRI® assists the body in creating new neural pathways via the primary reflexes that a) may never have developed and/or integrated, b) may have developed and integrated, but were then agitated due to stress/trauma and became active again, or c) are active or over-active when they should be integrated.
This bottom up approach creates a sturdy foundation for my clients to “fill in the gaps” and thrive.
What is a Reflex?
A reflex is a specific motor response that is elicited by a particular stimulus (tactile, auditory, visual, change in gravity, etc.). They are the neurophysiological basis for survival and exist to keep us safe. Our reflexes never go away (as once previously thought), but rather become integrated into our nervous system and only arise when needed to keep us safe. For example, when a person pushes you from behind and your hands come out to catch you so you do not fall face first, this is a reflex response. When you hear a loud sound and it causes you to jump, this is a reflex response. When you step into the street and then see a car coming so you jump back onto the sidewalk, this is a reflex response.
Why are Reflexes Important?
Our reflexes serve as the foundation for all future volitional and functional movements as well as cognitive development. Although none of us are 100% integrated (we are human after all), the issue arises when it negatively impacts our overall ability to function within our day to day lives. When the reflexes are not appropriately experienced and integrated by the body, this causes a disconnect within the nervous system which may result in issues with later motor movement/development, auditory/visual processing, tactile sensitivities, sensory challenges, stress resilience, etc. Our bodies are intuitive and can create feasible compensatory strategies so that we can function day to day, but for some this is not possible or becomes a challenge as the body is put under undo stress, experiences trauma, etc.
What happens when a reflex is not integrated, is dysfunctional (active when it should not be), or pathological?
Most of our primary reflexes integrate within the first 2-3 years of life. Some will linger until about the age of 4 years. Given the reflexes are the foundation for all future functional and volitional movement as well as cognitive development, when they are not appropriately integrated, it impacts the development of those future skills.
For a comprehensive list of who can benefit from MNRI® click here.
How does MNRI® look in a session?
MNRI® uses isometric pressure, sensory input (tactile), and movement to facilitate integration/re-integration of the reflexes by eliciting a reflex motor pattern. At its core, this work is based on safety and trust in order to ease the nervous system out of a state of protection, and therefore, it will never be forced. I meet each client where he or she is and honor what the client (and body) will allow. For children, often this means incorporating the MNRI® work into play, functional movement patterns, and/or modeling of the work on myself or a parent. For adults, this may mean having them performing modeled techniques on themselves, simply holding and staying with the sensory stimulus and allowing them to process/verbalize how it feels in their body, participating in slow, standing movement patterns and processing how that feels within the body, etc.
How does MNRI® differ from other reflex programs?
As described above, MNRI® differs from other reflex integration programs in that it goes beyond looking solely at the primary reflexes. It further supports the nervous system by addressing areas of the tactile system, auditory/visual system, and stress hormones. In addition, MNRI® does not go against the reflex pattern using inhibitory activities, but rather looks at both sensory and motor components. It provides specific sensory stimuli and supports the body through the appropriate motor response which can then be translated into functional activities that make sense to the brain.