Dr. Masgutova is the originator of the Masgutova Neurosensorimotor Reflex Integration SM (MNRI) Method and Director of the Masgutova MNRI Institutes in Poland and the United States. She holds a Ph.D. in Developmental and Educational Psychology (1988) from the Scientific Research Institute at the Russian Education Academy in Moscow. Dr. Masgutova has held posts as post-graduate teacher, Head Researcher, Vice Director of Science, and Academy Chief and Lecturer at Russian Universities, and as Lecturer at Polish Universities and Research Institutes. She has held positions at the Orechovo-Zouevo State Educational University, Moscow Open State Educational University, Russian Education Academy, Research Laboratory of Movement and Personality Development, and Dolnoslaski School of High Education and Medical Academy of Wroclaw.
Dr. Masgutova’s Masters Thesis, “Unconditioned Reflexes, Unconscious Processes and their Effect on Personality Attitudes” (1980) reflected her early interest in the study of reflexes and gave her great insight into the impact reflexes have on human development. Much of her academic focus was based on the work of early twentieth century Russian scientists who were active during a time of great interest and advancement in physiology, learning disorders, and abnormal psychology. The West was largely blind to the significant advancements being made by Russian scientists Ivan Sechenov, Lev S. Vigotsky, Nikolai Bernstein, and Alexander Luria to name a few, as this was a time when opportunities for international communication were limited. The pioneering work of these esteemed scientists, which was available to Dr. Masgutova in her native language throughout her formative educational years in Russia, coupled with her personal research in the field formed the scientific underpinnings for what is today known as the Masgutova Method® or the Masgutova Neurosensorimotor Reflex Integration (MNRI® ) Method.
Turning Points and New Directions
Having completed her Ph.D. in Developmental and Educational Psychology, Dr. Masgutova began her post-graduate career as a post-graduate university teacher and researcher at the Russian Education Academy. Excited and enthusiastic to be part of the educational platform that had shaped her knowledge, she eagerly embraced the new challenges that came her way. Her path would be anything but typical, however, as an event occurred in 1989 that forever altered the course of her career.
From Developmental Psychology & Learning to Motor Reflex Integration
On June 4, 1989, while the world’s attention was riveted on the unfolding of the student uprising on Tiananmen Square, sparks from two passing trains on the Trans-Siberian Railway near Ufa in the Ural Mountains ignited fumes from a natural gas leak. The resulting explosion had the equivalent of 10 kilotons of TNT, shook homes, and broke windows within an eight-mile radius. Over 500 people were killed and another 600 were injured, many of whom were children. Dr. Masgutova, along with many Russian, German, and British medical volunteers, mobilized to help the survivors. Dr. Masgutova worked tirelessly over the next four months with over 100 children who had suffered physical injury, severe burns, and emotional trauma. When traditional psychotherapeutic approaches proved ineffective with these children, Dr. Masgutova turned to reflex and tactile knowledge she had acquired through her University studies and dissertation work. Dr. Masgutova’s comprehensive approach had great success and the children under her care experienced faster and more complete physical and emotional recoveries than was expected given the magnitude of the trauma.
From Post-Graduate University Teacher to Researcher, Lecturer and Instructor
After Ufa, Dr. Masgutova returned to her university post at the Russian Education Academy where she had a promising teaching and research career waiting for her. She soon realized that as a full-time graduate teacher and part-time university researcher, the restorative techniques uncovered in Ufa could not advance without dedicated attention and, therefore, would not be available to those who needed it most. For the knowledge to have the greatest effect, it needed to be more deeply understood, refined, and advanced through active research with various populations. Consequently, Dr. Masgutova left her full time university position with the full support of her colleagues at the Russian Education Academy to focus on expanding integration knowledge through active research.
With the assistance of select university colleagues and post-graduate students, Dr. Masgutova conducted official research, in cooperation with the Center for Child’s Creative Development and The School for Children with Down Syndrome and Intellectual Delay, both in Moscow, Russia. This research helped her gain a deeper understanding of the impact her reflex integration work had on the survival mechanism process and the general neurodevelopment of children. It also allowed her to refine and advance her restorative integration techniques that had begun to take shape in Ufa. Through this work, Dr. Masgutova and her colleagues were able to confirm:
- Dysfunctional primary motor patterns can reflect varying levels of sensory and motor defensiveness in the body that can be released through restorative tactile and other sensory system techniques.
- The state of underlying sensory systems can impact the integration state of motor reflex patterns as well as the emotional and behavioral regulation state of an individual.
- Automatic primary motor reflex pattern function (dysfunction or deeper pathology) is a visible, identifiable reflection of the state of neurosensorimotor function, and can be used not just to identify the presence of underlying neurological issues, but also to isolate and inform sensory, motor, and cooperative neurosensorimotor functioning in the body.
- Different reflex forms (actions, movements, patterns and schemes) contribute to the survival mechanism and neuro-development processes in different ways.
- Improving the function of underlying motor reflex patterns and sensory systems, in turn, reinforces and improves basic automatic reflex schemes (sitting up, crawling, walking, etc); learned motor skills and abilities, advanced motor, communication and cognitive development; and improves emotional and behavioral regulation
As word spread of her team’s work, schools, universities and child development centers in Russia invited Dr. Masgutova to lecture and train professionals in her restorative techniques. Throughout the 1990’s, while she continued to lead research on motor reflex and sensory integration, Dr. Masgutova lectured and trained hundreds of Russian graduate students and clinical and educational professionals. She also began to publish the integration training manuals that shaped the MNRI Method program manuals used today. In 1997, the Personality Development and Art Education Research Institute of the Russian Education Academy in Moscow recognized Dr. Masgutova for her outstanding scientific work.
From University Setting in Russia to Clinical Setting and Training throughout the World
Dr. Masgutova’s ongoing lecture and training sessions intrigued and influenced many university colleagues, faculty, and students. The level of interest was clearly reflected in the shear number of Russian schools and clinics that continued to adopt the neurosensorimotor integration techniques to benefit students and clients. Within the confines of a university structure, however, Dr. Masgutova began to realize it would be some time before schools and clinics outside the university’s influence – let alone outside of Russia – would have access to this knowledge. She knew how effective her program could be for people with any type of challenge – she had experienced its impact first in Ufa and now in Russian schools and clinics. Consequently, she decided to leave the security of the University setting, where her research and teaching career had great promise, to bring integration knowledge and techniques to the outside world. Dr. Masgutova maintained ties to the Universities that made her research possible, but relocated to Poland where she opened the Institute of Movement Development and Reflex Integration with the mission to help as many people with developmental challenges as possible. With her teenage son Denis by her side, she dedicated herself full time to the study of reflex integration. She immediately began lecturing about her Reflex Integration Program for faculty members of the Early Intervention Department of Neurology and General Health Academy and the University of High Education in Wroclaw, Poland as she developed plans to spread her knowledge to the rest of the world.
Masgutova Institute Formation and Global Expansion
In 2001, Dr. Masgutova formally established theInternational Neurokinesiology Institute of Movement Development and Reflex Integration and, in 2002, held the first Masgutova Family Educational Conference—a unique, intense training conference designed to provide:
- MNRI students with program training, broad range application, and hands on experience; and
- Families with a conference assessment, intensive conference treatment, parent training, and a home program to address each child’s unique set of challenges.
In 2004, Dr. Masgutova changed her Polish-based organization name to the Masgutova Institute of Movement Development and Reflex Integration and, in 2007, established the Svetlana Masgutova Educational Institute (SMEI) for Neurosensorimotor and Reflex IntegrationSM in the United States.
Since 1989, Dr. Masgutova has been researching the influence of reflexes and neurosensorimotor integration on different aspects of motor, communication, and cognitive development, and emotional and behavioral regulation to the great benefit of those around the world who have been able to access her knowledge and approach. Dr. Masgutova’s organization has reached over 27,000 children and adults spanning 25 countries, including Russia, Poland, Germany, France, U.S., Canada, Hong Kong, and Indonesia. The organization has also sponsored over 45 Family Educational Conferences, and has trained over 8,000 MNRI students, parents, and caregivers. It is through all of this that Dr. Masgutova has come to understand that “…the integration of early movements is the key to successful development, joyful learning and a happy life.”
For additional information regarding Dr. Masgutova’s extensive resume accomplishments, please click on the area of interest below.
On a personal note, when an osteopath (after x‐rays) left my hand/arm in a terrible state of pain and dysfunction, Svetlana was able to solve the problem in little more than an hour‐‐addressing my reflexes and then the bones in my hand.