Achieving Brain Health – What You Need to Know to Strengthen Your Brain (Part 4)
Part one of this four-part series discussed the ‘Web of Brain Healing’ and the complexity of nine realms that affect brain plasticity and its overall ability to heal and restore function. Part two discussed the myriad of neurological therapy requirements, the current healthcare system obstructions, insurance limitations, cultural beliefs and logistical factors that prevent the brain from healing. Part three began the discussion of the ideal model for healing the brain with two of the four steps: eliminating inflammation and clean up and preparation for constructing the brain. This article concludes the discussion of the ideal model with the final steps: re-constructing the brain’s anatomy – and restoration of brain information processing.
Step 3: Re-Constructing The Brain’s Anatomy – Neuroplasticity
Building Materials: Nutraceuticals & Foods
The foundation for neuroplasticity begins with nutrition: food and nutraceuticals. I’m frequently asked if high quality foods will suffice and render no need for nutraceuticals and my answer is “no.” First, nutrients need to be concentrated to induce a quantity that will produce a result because the needs exceed what can be extracted from a standard meal. Second, today there are excellent nutraceuticals developed especially for restoration and enhancement of brain function and neuron physiology support. Most of the best products are only available through physicians due to their potency. These are excellent products producing very good results. Along with dietary changes, the foods need to be organic: free of pesticides, herbicides and GMOs to prevent inflammation and toxicity.
Awaken The Brain: Stimulation & Activation
After 2 to 4 weeks of concentrated nutraceuticals consumption, therapies that stimulate and activate the brain can begin. It makes no sense to start therapy prior to nutritional supplementation because if the neurons need those nutrients they will not be able to respond. At Tahoe Neuro Healing we have four categories of neurological therapies: passive, kinetic, visualization and the proprietary Acusense. Each has a unique function and application for neurological therapy.
Passive therapies include acupuncture, herbal medicines, magnetic, vision, light, color, laser and sound. Kinetic therapies include Qigong, exercise, active-passive guided movement, speech, writing, art and yoga. Visualization therapy is a guided meditation whereby in the mind’s eye you see yourself having overcome the deficit, and/or art therapy whereby you draw, paint or sculpt yourself as having overcome the deficit. Acusense therapy specifically combines any of the passive therapies with kinetic, visualization and/or traditional physical therapy, speech/language or occupational therapies. The combination of therapies has a synergistic function and produces a greater and/or faster result, and in some instances produces a result which otherwise would not have occurred.
Step 4: Restoration of Brain Information Processing
This final step can only be achieved when all the other steps have been addressed. The issues of brain information processing have only been confirmed by research since the year 2000 and as such today’s computer science combined with auditory/sound technology have afforded us with high-tech therapeutic equipment to ad- dress the unique process of neuron timing, brain region synchronization, auditory processing and sensory integration.
Neuron Timing & Brain Region Synchronization
Once the neurons are firing, it is important that they fire efficiently and increase the number of firings per second to enable signal/information processing. Just like a computer, the faster you process information the better your performance. After the brain regions have become activated and reconnected, the flow of information through the different regions must be synchronized. Like a clock that has many cogs and gears, each is dependent upon the other for function. When timing and synchronization are not functioning well it
can disrupt anything that the brain controls: mental, emotional and body functions, thus it is critical for processing information and command of our experience.
The Interactive Metronome (IM) is a computer technology that activates and establishes the timing of neurons to improve their efficiency, and it activates the tactile, proprioceptive, visual and auditory systems to establish synchronization of information flow through brain regions.
What do I experience when I use the Inter- active Metronome?
First, you are wearing headphones that provide a sound set to a specific timing and you will do spe cific physical actions, like clapping hands with a palm sensor, to the match the beat. If you clap too soon the computer instantly reports if you are clapping too soon or too late to match the beat. This immediate feedback allows you to adapt your timing to match the computer’s rhythm. Second, the exercise can be expanded to include cognitive processes. The words and numbers can be replaced with anything that the patient has difficulty processing. Different motions can be used to improve motor function loss due to concussion, traumatic brain injuries (TBI), stroke, Parkinson’s disease, Multiple sclerosis or child developmental issues caused by severe illness or diseases.
The IM has existed some 20 years and has been well researched and studied.
A few years ago the Veteran’s Administration (VA) completed research of its benefits treating neurological deficits (paralysis and speech/language) caused by TBI. The studies showed medium and large increases of improvement of deficits, which translates to 40 to 60 percent greater results. In research terms, that is an outstandingly high and rare result.
The benefits off the IM also include benefits for emotional and psychological issues. The VA’s re- search also uncovered that IM therapy resolved or significantly diminished post-traumatic stress dis- order (PTSD) in 80 percent of those participants. This is a significant finding because aside from acupuncture, meditation and yoga, which yield 70 to 80 percent success treating PTSD, there are no other therapies with that level of effectiveness.
For our veterans it is imperative that we have many therapies available for treatment to intervene upon the 22 suicides that occur each day due to PTSD. The estimated loss of veteran lives is over 112,000. According to PTSD United our civilian population is also suffering. It is estimated that 8 percent of Americans – 24.4 million – have PTSD at any given time. That is equal to the total population of Texas. An estimated one out of every nine women develops
PTSD, making them about twice as likely as men.
Auditory Processing and Sensory Integration
When the auditory processing system or sensory integration does not function well, it can result with difficulty taking in information. These deficits can affect anyone – children in their developmental years, children with developmental de- lays (autism, Asperger’s syndrome, Cerebral palsy), elderly in decline and those who sustain a severe illness or head injury. The science of this can be likened to a poor cell phone connection – the information they are receiving through the auditory system is fragmented, hence they are missing bits and pieces of information. That lack of information can have many outcomes such as confusion, diminished understanding, problems with memory thus learning difficulties and/ or behavioral issues of frustration, withdrawal from learning and poor self-image, just to name a few.
When we assess the auditory-brain connection it is profound. The auditory processing system is the regulator of our other sensory systems. Our tactile, proprioceptive and visual systems integrate with the auditory system within the brain stem. Thus, of the overall function of our daily lives, the auditory system is the ‘glue’ that keeps our systems together.
What do I experience when I use The Listening Program?
The Listening Program is a passive music therapy that improves the brain’s auditory processing and sensory integration. First, you are wearing unique head- phones that provide sound to your ears (like traditional headphones) and it pro- vides vibrations to the skull. Second, you are listening to beautifully-mastered high-definition music that was recorded in such a way that the playback gives you the experience of being surrounded 360 degrees, as though you are in the center of an orchestra. That experience of “hearing” 360 degrees is created by the combination of the sound entering the ear with the vibrations induced onto the skull. That experience is what we typically encounter in the 3-dimensional world – we hear a door close behind us because we simultaneously received a vibration input (proprioceptive) to the back of the skull while the sound wave entered our ear (auditory input). We hear the bird singing overhead because the vibration touched the top of the skull while the sound wave entered the ear. The integration is so sophisticated that when we tilt our head to look up at the bird the system adjusts to the vibration, touching the face while the sound wave enters the ear and we retain our orientation as to the bird’s location.
During child development when we do not get input from the vibration (proprioceptive) combined with the sound wave entering the ear (auditory) the necessary connections to the other sensory systems does not occur, thus an integration deficit. Or when the ear, brain structures of sensory system(s) or fiber tracts of the auditory processing or sensory integration pathways are compromised by a disease (repeat ear infections, meningitis) or injury (concussions, TBI, stroke) the result is poor information intake or failed processing or sensory integration. The Listening Program provides us with a concentrated and highly targeted 3-dimensional experience to build or restore the auditory processing and sensory integration pathways.
The Interactive Metronome (IM) provides the activation of tactile, proprioceptive and visual sensory systems at a specific time that synchronizes brain regions, and The Listening Program (TLP) provides the spectrum of sound frequencies through music and cranial bone vibrations that the auditory system needs to integrate the sensory systems. A non-technology based therapy that impacts the brain like the combination of IM and TLP is the ancient Chinese practice of Qigong. The slow and fluid movements of the body combined with the focus upon the surrounding sounds
of nature – one’s breath and heartbeat, feeling the wind and sun upon the body – provides a timing based 3-dimensional sensory experience.
Closing of Article Series
The dedication to brain research worldwide during the past decade (aka 2000 through 2010) has resulted in numerous therapies that can have profound effects for developing or healing the brain. Truly, we have entered a new era of easing suffering and benefiting mankind. Healing the brain requires the navigation through a complex web of neuro-biology, personal beliefs, evidence-based medicine, financial resources and the willingness to access many healthcare providers beyond conventional care. Your brain is the center of your human universe, giving you the ability to experience the world. What are you willing to do to restore or protect its ability to give you a life?
For more information, call Van Harding at 530-536-5084 or visit www.TahoeNeuroHealing.com.
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