Early on in our journey, our Integrative Pediatrician suggested that we try MNRI® or primitive reflex integration therapy.  Not being too familiar with it, we held off for three years and proceeded forward with the more traditional therapies, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy.  While there are other programs that incorporate some use of primitive reflex integration (Brain Balance does, for example), MNRI® stands for Masgutova Neurosensorimotor Reflex Integration, where they use a set of physical patterns to integrate any primitive reflexes that may have been retained. The therapy is very hands-on, similar to physical or massage therapy, where the practitioner helps assist the body through physical patterns that typically occur during natural development. These developmental patterns are often as familiar as crawling or developing a proper grasp but make a significant neurological impact. If the body has some substantial stress, some of these reflexes cannot integrate properly, leading to holes in development.

While I am certainly no expert on MNRI®, the integration of these primitive reflexes helps to balance neurotransmitters (i.e., glutamate, histamine, etc., among others). It enables the body to develop new neural pathways that may have been damaged by neuronal death (often caused by excess glutamate). It helps to balance brain hemispheres. And in our experience, it substantially helped with problems crossing the body’s midline. What does trouble crossing the body’s midline look like? Imagine drawing a line from your head down two your feet and dividing your body into a left and right side and when your body avoids or has trouble crossing that line. Instead of tracking with your eyes, you will move your head to see better. Instead of swinging a bat across your body, you will switch hands. Additionally, with this, you will see defects in brain communication from left to right, and trouble performing activities like walking on a balance beam, handwriting, reading, cutting, etc.

We have personally seen more improvement from MNRI® over traditional therapies, especially in gross/fine motor development, visual tracking, and processing.  We’ve seen slow continual growth in these areas with diet, but MNRI® has substantially helped to accelerate these gains.  It seems as though many choose to attend MNRI conferences to get intense bursts of therapy if a practitioner is not local to them.  We initially did not participate in a conference due to time and cost, but we saw additional improvements with longer intensive sessions with our practitioner. For those in Charlotte, NC looking for more information, we loved working with Adele; please contact her!

After seeing substantial progress from incorporating MNRI therapies, we ultimately made a significant financial commitment and attended a week-long MNRI intensive therapy in Orlando, Fl. It was a long week with treatment, 8 hrs a day! However, the friends I went with saw enough improvement to attend again repeatedly. Fortunately, when we went, we had already made substantial progress, and there was little room for improvement. Though we still saw a benefit from attending, we needed more improvement to attend again. However, meeting Dr. Masgutova was so insightful! That alone was worth it.

I, too, would occasionally get on the MNRI table, and it helped me substantially with PTSD I had from our sons regression and with an annoying retained reflex I had. Do you know how some people stick out their tongue or move it around while they are intensely focusing? Yes, using MNRI can also help to integrate that reflex so that it is no longer an issue.

Dr. Masgutova completed a study on how MNRI helps to balance neurotransmitters. Here are some of the highlights in relation to glutamate:

  • “In our study, the MNRI approach trended towards normalization of PMNT, MAO, and NMDA functions effectively and non-pharmaceutically without adverse effects, thereby mitigating disease processes.”
  • “Microglia are the principal resident immune cells of the brain. When activated, microglial cells release pro-inflammatory cytokines and other factors such as glutamate, contributing to neuroinflammation. Crosstalk between peripheral immune cells and microglia can potentiate inflammation both in the periphery and in the brain. Post-MNRE levels of glutamate and histamine are lower compared to the pre-MNRE levels (glutamate is lowered by −0.4, p-value < 0.05, histamine at p-value < 0.05, effect −0.5). Recall that glutamate, glycine, and histamine are inflammatory markers, and the histamine is a substrate of MAO. Therefore, it is possible that MNRI not only reduces the inflammation but also assists in the modulation of MAO activity in the body. Naturally impacting reductions of these neurotransmitters may allow participants to have fewer incidents of behavior related issues at school, and social settings and improved learning capacity.”
  • “The results, along with collaborative statements from caregivers, give compelling information in the roll of MNRI and the neurological homeostasis of the body. Many participants with the disorders presented utilize medications that bring multiple side effects or invasive interventions that carry risks and additional stressors. Our results demonstrate that in as little as eight days, a trend in change towards homeostasis occurs.”

Tatarinova TV, Deiss T, Franckle L, Beaven S, Davis J. The Impact of MNRI Therapy on the Levels of Neurotransmitters Associated with Inflammatory Processes. Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Feb 18;21(4):1358. doi: 10.3390/ijms21041358. PMID: 32085403; PMCID: PMC7072967.

An additional statement on Rhythmic Movement Training in Autism :

  • “Rhythmic Movement Training in Autism- The rhythmic exercises stimulate many of the areas of the brain which are damaged in autism and improve their function. For optimal effect of RMT the gastrointestinal function need to be addressed. Otherwise toxins, peptides and allergens will cross the mucosa and be transported from the bowels and pass the blood brain barrier, causing continued brain damage by inflammatory and toxic reactions of the brain. It happens quite frequently that the child gets over stimulated by rhythmic exercises and reacts with restlessness and hyperactivity. Such reactions may occur also in children with ADD and ADHD. The cause of these reactions is probably an inability of the brainstem to filter stimulation from the tactile, vestibular and proprioceptive senses. Excessive stimulation reaches the brain and activates its GLUTAMATE RECEPTORS. Glutamate is the most widespread transmitter substance in the brain. If there is an inability to convert stimulating glutamate into inhibiting GABA the child will soon become restless and start wriggling and try to get away. Therefore a child with autism should be on a diet free from gluten, casein and preferably soy. This is especially important for children who do rhythmic exercises. Self stimulating Behavior – If the concentration of glutamate rises to toxic levels outside the neurons they start firing uncontrollably causing self stimulating behavior or stims. These are repetitive body movements that stimulate one or several senses in a regulated manner. They include- hand flapping, body spinning or rocking, mechanically lining up or spinning toys, repeating rote phrases, echolalia, i.e. mechanically repeating what others say
    perseveration, (repetition of a particular response, such as a word, phrase, or gesture, despite the absence or cessation of a stimulus). Rhythmic exercises improve speech – Almost all children with autism or ASD have more or less obvious difficulties doing simple active rhythmic exercises. Such difficulties are also common in children with ADD, ADHD and late speech development and indicate a damage of the cerebellum. Such damage is especially common in autism and has been confirmed by many research studies. Damage of the cerebellum may prevent speech from developing since speech cannot develop if the speech areas of the left hemisphere don´t get sufficient stimulation from the cerebellum. By stimulating the cerebellum with rhythmic exercises speech development will be promoted. The Purkinje cells of the cerebellum use GABA as a transmitter substance and the rhythmic exercises will in the long run cause more GABA to be produced provided inflammation of the cerebellum and glutamate accumulation can be prevented by an appropriate diet. http://www.blombergrmt.com/autism-and-rhythmic-movement-training/

If you haven’t considered reflex integration therapy, please do so! Mom-to-mom, it made 100xs more of a difference than traditional therapies did for us.