Healthline: Trauma clinic for flood victims
BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Overcoming the stress caused by August's historic flooding will take months for many people – or even longer. The extent of emotional trauma depends on each victim's individual circumstances. Some people were rescued from attics and lost everything, while others were able to escape ahead of the rising waters and salvage prized possessions. Then comes the stress of being displaced and finding a new home or rebuilding. Some must factor in the cost of missed work or losses at a small business.
"It's not like five minutes of stress, 10 minutes of stress, adrenaline, cortisol. It is several days, and now they are dealing with other things also, so they are like more in a frozen state," said renowned psychologist Dr. Svetlana Masgutova.
Masgutova and her team of therapists spent two days in Baton Rouge this week treating flood victims free of charge. They also made a stop in Lafayette. They regularly travel to areas that suffer natural disasters or mass shootings. Masgutova uses her own method called Masgutova Neurosensorimotor Reflex Integration, or MNRI for short. It's based on the fact that our brains are wired for survival and the theory that built-in reflexes can be manipulated for our benefit.
"We want to bring biomechanics and protective function together," Masgutova explained. "Our children and adults will be easily focused. They will not go into their tragedy memory again and again automatically."
Some reflexes are physical, like automatically putting out your hands to break a fall. Others are internal and often go unnoticed.
"In times of significant stress these reflexes step in, and in many cases of significant trauma they don't turn back off," explained Dr. Vicky Roy. Roy studied under Masgutova and now practices MNRI locally at Dynamic Therapy Specialists.
Sessions are done on a massage table with therapists targeting pressure points on the body through various exercises. Verbal counseling is also part of the process for some patients. Some people report immediate feelings of relief.
"How do we help to strengthen the nervous system through reflexes in order to prevent something happening down the road, which is that turning into true post-traumatic stress," Roy added.
Roy and her colleague Stacy Levy most often use the MNRI method to treat children with learning disabilities, but it's also proven successful in treating acute stress. She said there are other things people can do besides therapy.
"I would definitely encourage people to move, to get out, to walk, to listen to music, to get out and do things that they like to do, and don't feel like there's so much going on right now that you can't do that," Roy said. "Because if you don't do that, then you're going to get sick."
Roy and Levy will continue to offer MNRI therapy in Baton Rouge, and Masgutova's trauma team hopes to make several return trips to the area in the coming months. The group treated around 40 patients during their time in Louisiana, and they hope to follow-up with those patients and help more flood victims for free.
The team is looking for sponsors and donors to help cover the costs of their trips. The therapists leave their own practices behind and often pay for humanitarian trips out-of-pocket. CLICK HERE or call (225) 767-5032 for more information.
Louisiana's Department of Health is offering free counseling for individuals and families who may be having a difficult time after the floods. Call the Spirit Crisis Line at 1-866-310-7977.
CLICK HERE to learn more about the MNRI method and Dr. Svetlana Masgutova.
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