Reflex Integration

The Masgutova Method of Neurosensorimotor Reflex Integration (MNRI)

Primitive reflexes are present at birth and typically remain active until the age of 6-12 months. These are specific, automatic movements that originate at the brain stem and are performed without cortical (conscious) involvement. Each reflex lays the foundation for higher-level motor and cognitive skills. If a reflex is not integrated beyond 12 months of age, there is an indication of immature central nervous system development. Non-integrated reflexes impact the fluidity and smoothness with which an individual moves. Once primitive reflexes are integrated, postural reflexes emerge. As postural reflexes are practiced, more mature patterns of response can supersede the primitive reflex responses. Postural responses are automatic reactions for the maintenance of balance, stability and flexibility throughout the body. When absent or underdeveloped, postural reflexes negatively contribute to an individual’s adaptation, problem solving, linking, multi-processing, sequencing and coping with large volumes of information, coordination, as well as associated disorders such as dyspraxia, “clumsy child” syndrome, apraxia, etc.

Reflexes

The following reflexes are assessed and treated at our center (not exclusive):

  • Moro
  • Tonic Labyrinthine Reflex (TLR)
  • Babinski
  • Babkin Palmomental (Palm-Mouth)
  • Landau Reflex
  • Trunk Extension Reflex
  • Leg Cross Flexion-Extension
  • Asymmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex (ATNR)
  • Symmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex (STNR)
  • Spinal Galant
  • Spinal Pereze
  • Robinson Hands Grasp
  • Hands Pulling
  • Hands Supporting


Who can benefit from Reflex Integration?

  • Developmental Delays
  • Brain Injury
  • Dyslexia and Hyperlexia
  • Autism and Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD)
  • Cerebral Palsy (CP)
  • Sensory Processing Disorders (SPD) – including those impacting the visual and auditory systems
  • Attention Deficit Disorder / Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD/ADHD)
  • Emotional Instability
  • Genetic Disorders
  • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)

Tactile Integration

This is a specific massage technique that Dr. Masgutova developed to assist the entire somatosensory system (touch-proprioceptive) in being awakened to enable the body to register information more rapidly. This is incredibly important for a number of reasons:

  • The registration of touch-proprioceptive information prepares the body for understanding lateral and cross lateral patterns of movement.
  • The touch-proprioceptive system is very necessary in assisting the body to create feedback into the nervous system to assist with motorplanning.
  • If the child does not gain this “feedback” into the body motor actions remain “new and novel” and integrating new motor patterns in the body would be very difficult.
  • Touch is quite important for the bonding between infant and parent. This technique enables the parent to re-establish this important phase of development in a way that is soothing and calming for both parent and child.

The child may initially react in a squirmy way as they do not know what to expect and may be hypersensitive to touch or hypersensitive in their emotional system. With persistence and perseverance and applying the method the same way consistently the child will start to relax with the procedure.

We use the full method at our center as Dr. Masgutova’s program has taught us. We have designed an abbreviated version for the parent to get started in the home.


Reflex Integration Definitions

This list covers the most frequent reflexes we are asked about and is not meant to be exhaustive

  • Homologous (symmetrical) movement: This developmental phase consists of the baby using all limbs together from a point of safety and center (radiating from the navel)
  • Homolateral (lateral, asymmetrical): This next phase of development consists of all 4 limbs working together, but as opposite units from the left and right sides of the body, involving the crossing of midline again over the center point of the navel.
  • Contralateral (bilateral integration): The coordinated movement of all 4 limbs across all planes of movement also containing the ability of the person using his/her body in space with no inhibition of any primitive reflex pattern.
  • The Asymmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex (ATNR) is elicited when the baby’s head is turned to one side and the arm of that side extends forward, while the opposite arm moves to a flexed position. The ATNR develops in utero and is a key player in the birthing process as the baby passes through the birthing canal. It helps to increase extensor muscle tone: training one side of the body at a time, lays the foundation to future reaching, and supports eye-hand coordination in its earliest form.
  • The Symmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex (STNR) is seen as the child in quadruped flexes the head down which causes the arms to flex and the legs to extend, while placing the head in extension causes the legs to flex and the arms to extend. This is the stepping-stone babies need to move to the creeping/ crawling phase, as children are often seen to rock in a quadruped position just prior to crawling. The STNR assists in dividing the body into the upper body and lower body, as opposed to affecting tone throughout the body as the TLR (Tonic Labyrinthine Reflex) does. STNR is also suggested to impact ocular motor skills related to shifting from a position of far distance vision (neck extension) to near distance vision (neck flexion), a skill needed in copying, as well as visual tracking in the vertical plane (similar to the ATNR in the horizontal plane).
  • The Spinal Galant Reflex is elicited when a stimulus presented to the side of the spine results in hip flexion to 45 degrees; this should be seen equally strong on both sides. This reflex is also thought to aid in the birthing process. It has also been suggested that this reflex plays a role as a primitive conductor of sound in utero. It allows the fetus to “feel” the vibrations of sound in the womb up the spinal column. This reflex is important for balance when creeping/ crawling, as well as when coordinating upper and lower body movements.
  • The Moro Reflex is a composite series of rapid movements made in response to sudden stimuli; an involuntary response to a threat (movement of the arms up and away from the body and then quickly coming back to a clasping posture across the body). Abduction is accompanied by a sudden intake of breath, while adduction facilitates the release of the breath. Long-term effects of a retained Moro reflex include: vestibular-related problems, physical timidity, oculo-motor and visual perceptual deficits, poor papillary reaction to light/ photosensitivity, auditory confusion, allergies and lowered immunity, poor stamina, poor adaptability, and poorly developed CO2 reflex (related to the breathing pattern).
  • The Tonic Labyrinthine Reflex (TLR) is manifested when the head is bent forward into flexion, the arms and legs comes into flexion, and when the head goes backwards, the arms and legs go into extension. The TLR is closely linked to the Moro in that they are both related to vestibular functions stimulated by the labyrinths of the inner ear and their associations with movements of the head and position in space. This reflex exerts tone throughout the body, assisting the infant in moving from a primary position of flexion into extension. As this process unfolds, balance, muscle tone, and proprioception are affected. If the TLR is not inhibited, the vestibular system may constantly be “tripped” in its action and its interaction with other sensory systems. This may cause a lack of a secure reference point in space, difficulty judging space, distance, depth perception, visual figure-ground, and velocity of movement. The TLR is also important in facilitating the integration of one’s vestibular, visual, and proprioceptive systems, which provide us a complete picture of our environment.
  • The Schilder’s Arm Extension Test considers the client’s response when requested to maintain arms in a forward position with eyes closed and arms out, while the therapist moves the head. This observation mostly supports or negates the continued presence of the abovementioned ATNR.
  • Protective extension is observed when the arms extend out to break a fall or counter when an individual is off balance in the down, front, side, and backward positions.
  • Equilibrium responses

Ongoing Research

Areas of investigation:

  • Reflex integration
  • Immune system improvement
  • Brain development and functioning
  • Neuro-development and neuro-speech development
  • Auditory processing

Ongoing Studies:

  • Brain wave topography and evoked brain potentials of auditory and visual nerves. Longitudinal study of children undergoing the MNRI program.
  • Research on children with Cerebral Palsy as measured by EEG brainwave activity in response to MNRI stimulus as compared to normative patterns. Research underway in Poland and in the United States.
  • Research on the use of MNRI techniques on chronic inflammatory respiratory disease within children with developmental deficits (e.g., Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Dyslexia, ADHD, genetic disorders)
  • Central auditory perception and processing function and improvement within children with development deficits (e.g., Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Dyslexia, ADHD, genetic disorders).