The Story of Neurovascular Integration
How was Neurovascular Integration (NVI) developed?
Neurovascular Integration (or NVT, Neurovascular Therapy) was developed by Dr. Cathy Pliscof Holway, PT, DPT, as a neuroscience-based, light-touch therapy that engages the nervous system conversation between body and brain and helps restore appropriate sensory and motor function.
Dr. Holway was drawn to this work as she recovered from two brain injuries and thirteen years of post-traumatic partial-complex seizures. Those injuries resolved in one particular “cranial therapy” session, and her journey to understand the “Why of the Wiring” began. From her “inside-out” perspective of receiving various manual therapies and knowing what approaches felt safe and allowed neurophysiological transformation to occur, she realized that the therapist’s presence and intention could affect the body before touch even occurred.
This naturally led to her exploration of the Autonomic Nervous System and the critical balance between internal body function and external navigation. The resilience between internal thriving and external stressors plays out in our state of health. So many of our cultural disease processes are distress signals from our internal belly, breath and heartbeat systems not getting the landing and attention they need, as our stress systems have taken over our lives.
In NVI training, therapists learn to land in their own peaceful, Profound Neutral balance zone, restoring their own internal resilience between sympathetic (stress) and parasympathetic (peaceful) autonomic nervous system function. This allows them to engage with the patient in a way that makes sense to the body’s neurophysiology.
As current neuroscience has revealed, touch, temperature, pressure and position are all signaled from the body to brain and spinal cord circuits, which then interpret the incoming signals and generate an protective, survival output. These output signals may create pain (to make you withdraw from danger) or restorative responses, such as spontaneous movement, warmth, circulation, or relaxation. Restoring balanced function to our sensory processing circuits helps the brain regulate internal and external experiences of the body, resolving chronic pain and disease processes.
What are potential benefits (physical, mental, emotional, etc) of receiving NVI? On a short-term basis? Long-term?
NVI therapy provides profound benefits for patients, as they learn to land in the safety of their own breath and ease of movement. They learn stress-relief strategies that enable them to navigate a tumultuous world with more ease. They learn the power of their breath and attention in calming body, brain and mind. This results in a greater internal neurophysiological resiliency, as evidenced in better regulation of Heart Rate Variability (HRV) and diminished cortisol overload.
For whom is NVI most suited? Are there particular ailments and/or conditions it is more geared toward (as a treatment or preventive measure) more than others?
NVI is a valuable tool when addressing chronic pain situations. Pain is an output signal of the brain, believing that the body is in danger and prompting withdrawal from that danger. Chronic pain reflects wiring confusion in the brain’s interpretation and processing circuits, which leads to inappropriate output signaling of pain. NVI provides alternative input to the nervous system to help clear those aberrant circuits and restore balanced assessment of incoming sensory information. “Pain” therefore is no longer the neural response to every physical, psychological or emotional stimulation we encounter.
NVI is also helpful for patients with post-traumatic stress disorders, post-concussive brain injuries, and autoimmune diseases.
Children with developmental delays or sensory processing disorders also tend to have disorganized wiring through the brain’s critical processing centers. The gentle touch of Profound Neutral, combined with guidance in appropriate neurodevelopmental movements and activities, works with the inherent plasticity of the brain to reorganize the wiring and introduce normal function.