This is my Brain Awareness Week (BAW) photo which illustrates what we need to aim for in our brain science efforts: “Self Sufficiency.”
If you recall, one of the primary themes of the Terminator movie series was the Terminator’s wherewithal to correct its own body breakage & malfunctions. For more than 50 years, Western Medicine has been surgically putting in a wide array of medical implants from bone screws and plates, to heart valves, CNS shunts for hydrocephalus, and neurostimulators for Parkinson’s Disease and seizure disorders. The most problematic of these are CNS shunts, which I have been living with for 20 years.
Over the last 20 years, I have worked feverishly to educate medical science of the needs for self-sufficiency and home diagnostics & solutions to keep the shunt and individual functioning. But medical science in nearly every branch, from FDA to device mfrs to practicing physicians, have remained oblivious to the needs of the patient, and what is technologically possible today.
In 1997, after petitioning the Food & Drug Administration on widespread oversight and needless failures with many CNS shunt devices, I designed and patented a home monitoring system for hydrocephalus and CNS shunt users based on non-invasive methodology which I named, the DiaCeph Test. When I introduced it to scientists at the University of California at Irvine (UCI), I was heralded as a pioneer and visionary by Dr. Eldon Foltz, a long-time practicing neurosurgeon & researcher in hydrocephalus. And when I showed my concept to NIH, they fell in love with it and urged me to find a credentialed university scientist or physician to write the NIH grant application. Later, however, UCI would inform me they would have to own everything, or it wouldn’t be possible for UCI staff to write the grant. I was given no other alternative other then giving it to them, which didn’t make any sense. So I continued to show my DiaCeph system to companies and others in the field, all to no avail. Back then, it was going to be a stand alone software device where we’d be seeking insurance reimbursement, a Medicare code, and industry distribution.
Today, however, the DiaCeph Test could be an app for a mobile phone! The future is now and we need to grasp it! We need to develop cost-effective neuro-technologies for common disorders of the brain, take mind-body modalities, music therapy, mobile apps & AI technology to the next level!
In support of my Terminator 3 BAW photo, I added the caption, “How is your Implant functioning?” I added this from years of frustrating experiences w/ CNS shunt implants where one is left w/ a malfunctioning CNS shunt implant, yet limited to no means to get it fixed. It would seem the age-old saying applies here, “IF you want something done right, do it yourself!” So goes the Terminator! — with hydrocephalus association and national hydrocephalus foundation.
Over the last decade, neuroscience & medical science have made many long overdue advances in understanding the human brain. Much of this followed the research published about 12 years ago regarding neuroplasticity of the brain, aging, injury, and how the brain can still form new connections well into our later years. But, some of the more provocative developments in my view have come about in the areas of cognition with music and the brain, hypnosis, and meditation, and neuro and assistive technologies. Many of the mind-body modalities were developed many years ago, but were not well understood or corroborated thru science until more recently. As much as we’ve come today, we still have a long way to go in understanding many of the basic functions of the brain necessary for how this can be applied to medical disorders like autism, stroke, TBI, and hydrocephalus, to name a few.
I’ve done my part in my work with hydrocephalus, and with drumming and the brain. Now it’s your turn.
This blog discusses the science and everyday managment of children and adults who live with neurological & learning disorders, PTSD, and other disorders associated with sensory processing disorder (SPD) and intolerance to sound, lights, and scents. In these affected individuals, sensory overexposure often results in medical sequela ranging from headache to dizziness, irritability, behavioral changes, descreased cognition, nausea, vomiting, and fatigue. In later stages, it can trigger “siezures.” Sound sensativity affects about 20 percent of the population. Problematic sensory processing disorder affects 5-10 percent of the population.
Sensory processing disorder is related to dysfunction of any of the five (5) senses. It was earlier termed sensory integration disorder (SID), hyperacusis, sensory overstimulation, and sensory overload. Sensory problems and SPD commonly follow neurological disorders and brain injury spanning hydrocephalus, post TBI, post tumor resection, multiple sclerosis, migraine disorders, drug & alcohol addiction, and PTSD, ADHD, ADD, and autism spectrum learning disabilities.
I became an affected SPD sufferer after onset hydrocephalus in 1992 from a head injury. Since 1995, I’ve undertaken research and implemented my findings in neurological consults (hydrocephalus monitoring, patient consults) and in drumming therapy and drum circle workshops with a wide array of health populations. While my specialty is mhealth, medical devices, and cognition, I am also involved in general health, movement disorders, and wellness and write about my findings online. I am of the opinion that sound, light, motion, and stress act as “sensory triggers” and are responsible for the high prevalence of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) and mental health challenges today. Imaging studies show that PTSD produces pathological changes in the brains of children. So, no doubt PTSD and sensory overload is wreaking havak on the brains of adults, including, police officers and those living in inner cities with high rates of crime.
The web page linked below provides a nice overview of the five (5) senses. Typically 1 to 3 of these are compromised in sensory processing disorder (SPD).
It has only been about 15 years (about year 2000) that SPD and sensory processing dysfunction have really been recognized. So we have a long way to go. Testing and documentation, education, and protections remain years behind what they should be.
I attribute this in part to the government’s earlier efforts to refute PTSD from military combat, and in recognizing autism as a disorder in of itself. In autism, there is also much debate and criticism of a causal relationship with childhood vaccines. And this has not helped to further care and treatment of SPD disorders.
My onset of SPD was gradual and often followed my shunt malfunctions and surgical treatment of my hydrocephalus. By the late 1990s, I understood SPD as a diminished capacity to process auditory, touch, visual, olfactory, and gustatory sensory stimuli. And over time, I began to view the challenges of SPD in terms of access & accommodations to public places, and even more broadly, cognitive accommodations with web sites, store displays, and user instructions. Today, the broader terminology for these considerations is cognitive accessibility, where I have subsequently set up a web page at www.CognitiveAccessibility.org
This next study below is list breakthrough research on sensory processing disorder (SPD) where scientists were able to document the areas of the brain affected by SPD. Thie image below is taken from their study.
My name is Stephen Dolleand I began this blog in 2010. I developed hydrocephalus 4 weeks following an auto accident in 1992. In the years that followed, I had many challenges to overcome, and became involved in Food & Drug Administration advocacy that led to my designing the DiaCeph Test for mHealth monitoring of hydrocephalus.
My SPD challenges weren’t so apparent from the start due to all the challenges. It was probably year 3 that I had begun to notice how sounds and visual stimuli (lights & erratic movements) could bring on a neurological event. Young children chasing birds would really get me. For sound, it was just busy environments that bothered me. I took a few more years before I was able to identify specifically what sounds and how they could bring on a neurological event – which I term the SPD effect. This can vary a bit from person to person. But typcially you’ll see a decrease in cognition, an increase in irritability and behavior change, headache, and changes in balance and orientation.
From 1992 to 2013, I underwent twelve CNS shunt revisions. In 2015, I was also diagnosed with pachymeningitis, and it has further aggravated my SPD challenges.
It was my astute neurologist in 1999 that shared new research on sound hypersensitivity, and instructed me with tips on how to help manage it. Back then, it was often termed “overstimulation.” And it then led to my undertaking a critical SPD study.
In 2002, I undertook my first SPD Study, where I employed both the Aerex Balance Padand the Boss BR-8 Recorder (w/ metronome) to evaluate touch, visual, and sound sensory challenges. I took my materials to a hydrocephalus conference at St. Joseph’s/CHOC Hospital in Orange, CA, and also to England Physical & Balance Therapy in Garden Grove, CA, where I was undergoing vestibular therapy. I published my study results on my web page below.
I employed the Boss BR-8 recorder and metronome to study the effect of sound on cognition in persons with hydrocephalus, plus interviewed about 20 individuals claiming to be affected by sound intolerance. I learned that the adverse effects of sound was more due to “rhythmic structure” of sound, or degree of syncopation or melody, versus volume or tempo.
I used the Airex balance pad to evaluate gaze dependency of balance in individuals with hydrocephalus. What I learned here, was that patients who were unable to maintain balance on the pad while focusing on a moving target (business card on a stick), termed gaze dependency, reported more problematic chronic headaches and SPD complaints. I concluded that additional deficits were likely causing the decreased sensory processing. I felt that the additional deficits might also help predict poor outcomes after the insertion of a CNS shunt for hydrocephalus.
Later in my study, I found that melodic and highly syncopated sound patterns seemed to offer a therapeutic effect to some of these complaints – as a mechanism in support of music therapy. I created an “audiotape” of melodic metronome beats and piano sequences from my Yamaha keyboard, and would play and listen to this audiotape 2-3 times per week. It seemed to help my sound sensory issues.
I published my study on my web site, and it has been hosted there since 2003.
It is common to experience difficulty with sound, light, and motion after brain injury and onset of neurological disorder. Perhaps the most problematic is offensive types of unsyncopated and white noise sound, which is everywhere today in busy urban areas.
You can simplify sound sensory processing into the “melodic” Mozart Effect on the healthy end of the spectrum, and tortuous repetitive sounds on the unhealthful end of the spectrum. Repetitive unhealthful sounds can make even normal people ill at the right decibel and sound pattern. In fact, sound is still today used to extract information from prisoners during wartime, and it plays a significant role in football & basketball.
In 2014, I published the above provocative blog on SPD and drumming for football, and detail how the ill effects of sound plays a role in college and NFL football. I discuss sensory and cognitive challenges from fan & stadium noise, and methods for using drum beats to help play call synchronization, player movements, and communications.
My Introduction to Drumming & Drum Circles
It was in 2004 that I became involved in hand drumming and drum circles from my personal and therapeutic activities with music. I had no thought or expectation that drumming would help my SPD challenges. But after about a year of regular drumming, I discovered that my SPD sound sensitivity was improved. I re-examined my research and proposed that group drumming might help affected individuals to better organize sound, like a form of physical therapy for sound processing. My company web page below discusses by durrent work with drumming for general health and neurological disorders.
Signals traverse our brains in wave form patterns like those seen on EEG tests, and there are literally millions of signals traversing brains daily. As our brains process signals in wave patterns, so do we physically move about in wave forms or rhythmic patterns, and one area where the two overlap today is in “proprioception,” where our bodies are able to remember specific types of movement patterns, i.e. in sports, dance, and this then is integrated into whatever sport, dance, or social activity we are doing.
As I became involved with drum circles and drumming for the brain, I discovered how drumming can help retrain the brain’s ability to process unsyncopated sound by engaging the individual in disordered sound, and allowing them to integrate an order to the beats played – in essence, serving as physical or occupational therapy for the brain. I then began to study audible rhythm’s role in balance and movement, cognition, mental health, team-building, and stress reduction.
In February 2016, I updated this earlier blog on my experience with drumming therapyin cerebral palsy and autism, plus I’ve put on quite a few drumming workshopsfor a number of neurological disorders. I link all of my efforts together as best I can.
Below is the autism article in support of the autistic boy in the video at the mall. This story and short video on sensory processing disorder (SPD) in autism is featured on The Mighty web site. I’ve pasted the YouTube link below so that it might play here.
The video is shot from Alexander’s point of view during a trip to the mall. From noises to smells to bright lights, it shows all the things that might cause Alexander, who was diagnosed with autism two years ago, to have a meltdown.
SPD is often a problematic medical/disability issue in autism, and deserves to be much more a part of our public health dialog. In fact, I believe we should approach autism from the standpoint of brain health, and treat it’s related sensory processing disorder more for what it is, a sequel of medical complaints.
If 20% of the populace were found vomiting from traveling in cars and public transportation from motion sickness, that would be a big story. But when it’s an individual struggling with a health issue involving the brain (as opposed to the middle ear), the public sees it thru biased eyes. And governments do too. The link below is the National Institute on Health April 2016 publication of alternative medicine for autism.
While my own SPD complaints are not normally as severe as the child in this film, at times I feel a lot of what this child is experiencing. Often I am forced to undertake a number of steps to protect me from unhealthful sound. SPD is not just about autism or hydrocephalus or PTSD. It’s about brain health, public health, and how we all approach dysfunction of the brain.
In September 2015 I spoke on alternative medicine, SPD, cand cognitive accessibility in drug and alcohol addiction at Sovereign Health of Orange County. My presentation/blogis quite lengthy, but I share a lot of detail into SPD about 2/3 of the way through the blog.
Today in 2016 — the best way to manage SPD is not to put yourself in an environment that is more than your can process, leaving you overstimulated. You want to get out and do things. But your neurological stamina and your environment are changeable – and you may often not take the right intervention to head off an SPD event in time. Then you’re dealing with neurological sequela.
It’s important to know the individual medical makeup of each affected person, and the nature of their surroundings at any given time, and catch the early WARNING signs. If you’re around someone with SPD difficulties, the signs to watch forare: changes in their eyes, demeanor, irritability, cognition – which indicate overstimulation. Ultimately it’s a function of matching neurological stamina with a tolerable environment. Sound mobile apps, ear plugs, and eye cover can help too. My blog below discusses in more detail how decibel meter apps can help in managing sensory processing disorder. And I discuss my proposal for a new sound processing standard and algorithm measurement that could be used in sound measurement apps.
My Proposal for a Sound Processing Standard & SPD Algorithm for Mobile Apps
The image of “The Hulk” crushing a tree-schredding machine is provided as it is symbolic of the crisis facing individuals with sound sensitivities leading to neurological and behaviorial sequela. The idea for the animated Hulk Crushing the Tree Shredder comes from my HydroPowered Super-Hero series, which is a collection of super hero stories about children living with hydrocephalus. The tree schredding machine also illustrates the challenges that public noise poses to persons with sound sensory disorders. Sound sensativity affects as much as 20 percent of the population today. Yet comes with little to no accommodations or protections.
The broader issue of sensory processing disabilities and SPD spans not only adverse sensory responses on cognition, but also comprehension of information, user instructions, Internet access, access to technology, and reliability of assistive technology. In these regards then, the access to and controlled environment of, defines an accommodation that should be protected by applicable disability rights persuant to the Americans with Disability Act (ADA), and Sections 504 & 508 of the Rehab Act.
One of the common sound/SPD challenges today is with loud and eratic TV and radio advertisements. I am yet to post YouTube examples, but hope to in the near future. I have been exploring technological and regulatory solutions, including, a proposal for a new sound processing standard that would allow for a reproducible means of evaluating sound for likely unhealthful qualities.
A new sound processing standard could help identify differences in sound makeup and resulting audio & brain processing, particularly in affected individuals. This would be particularly helpful in screening offensive TV and radio commercials, machinery, and non-synchronous broadcasts in public places, and would be used in concert with the current decibel emission volume standard. Generally the more monotonous or less synchronized a sound, or the more its component audio is broadcast at the top of the EQ spectrum, the more difficult it is to process. Some types of these sounds are used to break the will of prisoners. Many of today’s audio broadcasts and public noise are now approaching unhealthful levels.
The image below is a c-panel screenshot of Time Warner Cable’s VOIP telephone options for blocking “telemarketer” and other unwanted telephone calls. I have inserted my proposal for TV quiet options (technologically possible) to screen/mute/lower unhealthful audio from TV commercials and programs. I shared this on Twitter and Facebook too recently.
In 2013, I purchased the domain CognitiveAccessibility.org and have been organizing content for broader plans. This domain currently points to a page on my main web site. I do all of my web site work in Microsoft Frontpage, which is being phased out by web hosting companies. I am now writing more on WordPress as have found it easier to use than learning a whole new web platform.
Below I share my blog on TSA Travel Accessibility tips for when flying with a CNS shunt for hydrocephalus or any cognitive disability.
These last two blogs discuss healthful solutions for sensory processing disorders as they relate to the sports of basketball and football. I also discuss methods in basketball for mindfulness and therapy to help calm the brain.
YouTube Videos document Harmful Audio of Sounds from Everyday Life
The audio in the videos below are known to “trigger” neurological complaints and behavioral changesin persons with neurological & learning disorders with secondary sensory processing disorder(SPD). The difficulty in the sound is often in the lack of melodic pattern as I wrote about in my above 2002 metronome study. A similar depiction is presented in the above video on autism from “The Mighty.” Sometime soon, I will update this section of videos with “offensive TV & radio commercials” airing today. Despite passage of the CALM Act baring loud commercials in 2012, it seems that little has changed. Advertisers also manipulate the sound EQ distribution of audio in commercials to get your attention, making it more problematic to persons with neurological disorders and SPD.
This blog discusses my disability rights complaint to the U.S. Justice Department Civil Rights Division, and request for a sound sensory accommodation from loud music and screaming broadcast all over my YMCA of Orange County fitness center where I was a member. I had been a member from 2007 to 2011. But it was in the later part of 2010 that a new fitness director was hired, who began putting on zumba classes with loud music and screaming, which was then broadcast all over the gym. Being exposed to this in the adjacent rooms then made me ill.
I undertook numerous remedies to bring a resolution to this. I was eventually asked WHY I couldn’t tolerate it, that loudness levels were within limits set my their national organiozation, and was told to where ear plugs when in the facility – which I tried for a while. But I kept having to take them out when a nearby member spoke to me. Other members (esp seniors) I was told discontinued their membership due to the unhealthful noise. Earlier in 2007, I had abandoned my 25 year membership at 24 Hour Fitness after they began playing loud overhead music. This YMCA gym could have, and should have, made the necessary accommodation I requested. In their ruling, DOJ rejected my complaint in its entirety and instructed me to seek other (esp. civil) remedies. In my opinion, both were legally and morally in the wrong! But there’s very little advocacy for SPD and sound sensory disabilities.
YMCA’s practices effectively barred me and other members with sensory processing disorder from using their fitness facility. The loud music and screaming gave me headaches, nausea, made me dizzy, and irritable – not unlike motion sickness. This is a known medical response for affected individuals to this type of sound sensory stimuli. And it gets better. After I filed my complaint to DOJ, the fitness director created a fake incident alleging I was disturbing other members, where I was told my membership was no longer good. I left and never returned!
Prior to filing my complaint with DOJ, I verbally and requested in writing to management for a change in their music broadcast policies. YMCA declinded to make any accommodation or modification. This was also after I had done volunteer work (music therapy) for this YMCA, and after others (affected seniors) had donated money.
It took DOJ two years to respond with a “no.” My complaint was filed with the “Disability Rights” division, who has jurisdiction over public and private facilities for disability rights accommodations. My complaint asked DOJ to draft new language of protections applicable to public and private venues across the U.S. where loud music or machinery poses unhealthful consequences to persons with neurological and sensory processing disorders.
Mostly what this YMCA needed do as an accommodation – was keep the door of the Zumba classroom closed. But management decided it more important to leave the door open, despite the room already having numerous open windows to the outside that brought in fresh air, and instead chose to broadcast the loud music and screaming through the rest of the facility.
Below is my complaint to DOJ and request for accommodation to the YMCA of Orange County, both of which were denied. These parties theated sound sensitivity and sensory processing disorder as though it were a “comfort” issue, rather than health issue.
A large segment of the U.S. population suffers from sensory processing disorderas a result of either autism, post TBI, PTSD, ADHD, hydrocephalus, post tumor, post stroke, Parkinson’s Disease, multiple sclerosis, migraine disorder, dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease, and more. Affected individuals become very sensitive to loud/erratic sound, from music, machinery, loud raucious TV commercials, and other types of sound which carries elements which are problematic to affected individuals. The affected Americans account for 15-20 percent of the population. These unhealthful sound levels for many, are often protected by years old standards of the decibel scale & chart below. But, these acceptable limits are coming under fire as I share further below.
The above chart has been coming under fire. OSHA, the primary authority over unhealthful sound in the workplace, still agrees with the more liberable interpretation above.
This next chart illustrates the decibel levels of common machinery.
Now we’re getting a little more current science with this next chart, which factors in reporting by persons exposed to what were thought of as otherwise safe decibel levels. And none of this yet takes into consideration the loss of sensory processing function by persons with neurological injury and disorders, and related SPD. When affected individuals are unable to tolerate these sound/noise levels, that raises ACCESSIBILITY to public and private facilities. Such facilities would include health clubs, restaurants, night clubs, churches, schools, malls, art & music venues and events, fairs, parks, and the like.
The image below illustrates the critical brain areas in volved in sensory processing.
In 2016, technology has made decibel meters available as mobile phone apps. I use the Smart Tools decibel app. However, what is needed is an app and new sound standard to measure the EQ mix of sound and its likely effect on sound processing. Such data would then lower the effective healthful range of sound.
In individuals such as myself, I will have good days and bad days, where my sound intolerance can vary and leave me in a pickle if I ignore the early warning signs. As an affected individual, you need to be aware at any given time of the status of your sensory intolerance, so you can make your optional adjustments as needed. However, there still needs to be new efforts in mitigating the hap-hazard broadcast of sound and noise as so many people are effected, with many more becoming affected who aren’t aware.
As for regulatory actions against noise, the only one that comes to mind is Congress 2012 ruling on the CALM Act – intended to prevent volume raising of TV commercials. But nothing has changed. Obnoxiously loud and ridiculous TV commercialscontinue on almost all channels. And on radio too. While the science in support of sensory processing disorder and affected neurological disorders exists, the U.S. government and DOJ have acted to deny the science, accommodations, and disability rights protections, while advocating for bizarre new and usual protections for special interests groups. I challenge those who deny this, to play such sounds at an official’s or company office. You will likely be thrown out! So WHY is this exposure OK for the general public? I discuss this in more detail in my 2015 blog on Tips and Information on sound related Sensory Processing Disorder below.
New sound standards and measurements must occur for there to be progress. There first needs to be a revision to current safe decibel scale, to revise it to reflect the health needs of persons with SPD disorders. Next, I am advocating a NEW decibel scale to include a “sound processing component” to account for how the human brain processes sound. Examples of difficult sounds are machinery with fast unbroken patterns, TV & radio commercials where a person is talking fast or screaming with music playing at full volume, and music with people screaming and yelling.
Since this blog was authored in 2013, I have added a new web page of information for sensory processing disorders and cognitive disabilities at CognitiveAccessibility.org, as well as several new blogs which I discuss below.
In 2015, I authored this important blog on tips and new information on sound related sensory processing disorder, or SPD, which includes updated supporting blogs and web content on this important subject. I am hoping to find the time and energy to build a complete web site for CognitiveAccessibility.org to advocate and share science on sensory processing disorder and cognitive disabilities. In this blog below, I also share some of my efforts with drumming and drum circlesthat can raise one’s level of intolerance, and improve over well being.
After more than 75 years, medical questionnaires that patients use to share information to physicians, are yet to innovate. Here’s what our FDA is doing now in regards to this innovation. See the accompanying story link.
Having spent many years in clinical nuclear medicine, and more recently, the neurosciences, I always viewed myself as an innovator. But, when I’m a patient undergoing any type of medical treatment, I’m less forgiving of an industry’s unwillingness to innovate, and their insistence to hold the marketplace hostage for their failures.
Way back in 1997, some 5 years and four failed surgical attempts later to get one of my CNS brain shunts to correctly drain CSF fluid needed for my hydrocephalus condition, I designed a patented a software-based monitoring system & named it the “DiaCeph Test.” It was to be a stand-alone software device. Fourteen years later, the DiaCeph Test still sits on a shelf, while new diagnostics needed for hydrocephalus and many other disorders, are not brought to market. This, and tech monitoring of many other disorders today, could be done via mobile phone apps.
Also, visit your Android or Apple store to see what’s available today.
My frustration boiled over recently as I was passed between physician specialists and a slew of lab and other diagnostic tests. Truly the medical field is failing to innovate both in the collection of relevant patient information, and in IT systems that should be mining patient tests results for the appropriate steps to follow. Widely today, physicians still use the same patient questionnaires that were introduced over 75 years ago. And no to very few clinical apps have made much of a dent in care in the doctor/patient relationship. And with all the money spent in health care in the U.S., and all of the political wrangling over Obama Care, why is no one talking about these key failures to innovate, and the difference it could make in care today?
I’ve enclosed a link to an industry story on the Food & Drug Administration’s new law and guidance regarding health apps. It remains unclear whether these regulations will help or hurt the cause for innovation. But it is certainly a story and topic you should follow, at least if you think there’s chance you might need medical treatment any time soon.
Of course, you could seek alternative medical care for what ills you, such as the drum circles and healing (that I do), or chiropractic, meditation, energy work, essential oils, vitamins & herbs, and energy water, to name a few of the alternative options that are available today. These each have some efficacy in bringing about positive outcomes. But, if you have a serious or more chronic illness, you probably want a more proven medical treatment. But, you’ll need supporting technology to make this all work, and you had better stay atop these developments in the industry, and in Washington.
Free drum circle and Q&A on drumming and drumming and healing at the Temple of Light “Holistic Healing Fair” on Sept. 8, 2012, from 12-5pm.
I will provide information & the opportunity for visitors to play hand percussion instruments and learn about drum circles, and drumming and healing. This is normally a $20 class, but is free during the Holistic Healing Fair. Drum Circle is 2-4pm.
How do you decide on whether to be burried, or cremated, after your death?
As one or the other will certainly happen to each of us, there’s no time like the present to address this difficult decision. More recently, the deaths of a cousin, and a fellow drummer and friend of mine, both of whom were 48 and Catholic, prompted my brother to send out an email to all family seeking to learn of their interest in using a family burial site. Such decisions are not easy onces, but as a medical intuitive having worked in health care, and now a neuroscientist working with drumming and the brain, I feel I have some qualification and insights I can share on this topic.
Of the two deaths in my life recently, one was buried while the other was cremated. I suspect my drummer friend may have preferred burial, but opted for cremation due to the lower costs. Outside of the financial aspects of deciding how to dispose of our remains, I think the bigger and more relevant two questions are: which method is most conducive to the proper moving on of our spirit; and which method brings to most comfort to family as far as being able to memorialize and visit you?
A permanent resting place is of significance too in that it allows the family to perhaps better memorialize and visit your body in the earthly world. But, I’m not sure how relevant it is for family to visit your ashes. It would seem the best way would be for family to be able to look at your writings and others works, and reflect on who you were and your contributions to life here.
Burial does offer the luxury of an more undisturbed body for “that period of days and weeks” when we are in spirit form, but are not fully done here or ready to move on to our next place and assignment, that we may still somehow need our body. There are no proven studies on the subject, but a great deal of discussion and suspected revelation.
There are many reports of people who have died and come back to life and shared in great detail what they saw. But, I don’t know of any accounts of people being in the spirit world for any length of time, and then coming back to describe it.
Historically, Jewish, Catholic, and Islamic religions have forbid cremation. But about 20 years ago, the Catholic church made cremation OK. And to the best of my knowledge, the others remain unchanged of their views. The articles I have included shed some light also on religious views.
Most recently, with the passing of my drummer friend, Carlos, I had an epiphany type moment 6 days later where I erupted in tears while listening to an early Santana song I was to perform that day. I can’t be certain if it was due to Carlos, but it was very unusual for me. It may also be unrelated. During Carlos’s prayer vigil, there were moments that were powerful. But it is hard to say if his spirit were actually involved. There were two things, though, that became clear after this service:
1) He had evolved to a higher and much more “self-less” person in the past 2-3 years, unbeknownst to most of us, and this put him ahead of his years, and likely opened the possibilities to his early death & assignment elsewhere; and 2) I was primarily there to convey a message to his closest brother, and offer support to his other brothers. And I have some skill in there areas.
My intuitive experiences in death originally arose in 1981 during my work in nuclear medicine imaging and the skill I developed as a medical intuitive. It was normal to carry on conversations with patients during these 60 to 90 minute exams. But after developing this medical intuitive ability, i.e. to see illness in my patients, I found I also could see impending death by way of who had agreed to die from their illness.
I was required to spend several minutes up to 10 minutes or so doing a clinical workup and history of each patient, and this often led to other dialog from my patients during the exams. Needless to say, over 11 years and 10,000 procedures, I had some pretty interesting encounters and conversations.
My intuitive connection to death and the afterlife then really took a leap forward in 1987 as I attended the death of my great aunt. During two occasions that day in the mortuary parlor, when I got within 6-8 feet of her body, a sense of “weightlessness” overtook me and a message was delivered from some higher power and said, “She was right and she is moving on to the highest possible place. Heaven.” From then on, any time someone I knew passed away, I would experience a very unusual and striking conversation with them for a period that lasted days and weeks, presumably the time period they remained nearby.
Of these deaths close to me since 1987, 3 were via burial and 3 were via cremation. From this limited number of 6 deaths, I can’t say I sensed any difference in “spirit” communication between those who were buried, and those who were cremated. But, I wasn’t thinking about it either. And now I am.
Earlier this year, I shared my experiences with a very Catholic man from Ireland and he spoke very confidently that what I had initially experienced in 1987 at my aunt’s funeral was the “Communion of Saints,” where I am actually in open communication with the spirit who just died, and those in Heaven. I had read about this earlier and it surely seemed plausible. But one thing seemed almost certain, that what I initially experienced in 1987 opened a doorway to my consciousness to better understand the “unseen.” And in fact, I think I can say that about all of my intuitive traits.
But this brings me back to my original question: Which is the better way to dispose of our bodies: Cremation or Burial? All I can hope for is that by discussing and praying over this question, we may have the better answers revealed. Perhaps we may also come up with new and better ways to memorialize the contributions of a loved one.
As many of you might expect, I almost always have percussion instruments with me, even while on vacation. When I traveled to Northern Michigan in 2012, I brought the above claves, shaker eggs, a cylinder shaker, woodpecker, gongo bell, flute, and thunder tube. I travel with these should I be asked to entertain or do a drumming therapy session. This request came from a friend of the family for an 11-yr old girl with cerebral palsy and autism from a chromosomal defect. The child was quite challenged and could not walk or talk, and suffered from restlessness and difficulty sleeping.
The Patient Workup
In preparing for my sessions, I perform a brief patient workup that consist of speaking to the parent in the presence of the child – to get the relevant patient history and to let each see me speaking in the presence of the other – which establishes permission. I am experienced in doing clinical workups from my prior nuclear medicine work and current hydrocephalus consults and drumming work. All together, I have 17 years of clinical workup experience as a nuclear medicine technologist(10 years with my company Certified Nuclear Imaging), 15-20 years hydrocephalus and medical device consulting, more than 10 years in drumming, and 10+ years earlier experience coaching youth soccer and baseball where some of my kids had speacial needs
Next, I introduced myself and spoke directly to Eliza, the eleven year old child in this session. I wanted to assess her present state of mind and willingness to work with me- which was positive. I assess the eyes, body movements, and listen to any verbal responses to any nervousness or physical complaints that might interfere with the session. It is important to know any issues that might limit the session – so I can ideally adjust ahead of this. I shared with her mother that I would keep the instrument play simple and not too loud, and start simple and increase stimulation and complexity as long as she was agreeable and engaging. As the therapist, I must continually observe her engagement and adjust my interactions accordingly.
Sensory Processing Disorder
Most all children with autism also suffer from sensory processing disorder (SPD), as do many with hydrocephalus, ADHD, PTSD, Parkinson’s, post TBI and the like. IN SPD, the individual will become easily over sensatized to sound, light, motion, or scents. Sound is the most common, but lights and colors are often an issue too. The list of accommodations for individuals with SPD as a medical challenge vary, but now fall under “cognitive accessibility,” which medically and legally defines the neurologic functional needs of the individual. I have become increasingly involved in cognitive accessibility over the last 5 years.
As I sat down next to Eliza, I observed her to be drooling, a bit anxious but also curious about what I was about to do. She was cooperative. My approach is to be calm and assuring. In these sessions where sensory processing disorder is present, sound, color, my voice, and movements become a critical part of the music therapy session. I maintain my attentiveness to her responses.
Color, Movement, and Music
I began by playing a simple 1-2 beat on my wooden claves, and it immediately drew her attention. I followed this up with one shaker egg, and then two, and she responded with giggles and excitement the more I played. With the colored egg shakers, it was hard to differentiate how much of her response was due to the egg color and motion versus sound from the eggs. Then I played the cylinder shaker, which can be loud if not careful, and I got more positive response from her. Next, I played the woodpecker and shaker together, and she went bananas! Yes everyone likes the wood pecker. By this time, she had been awaiting and anticipating my every movement and instrument sound. It was as much fun for me as it was for her. She became a terrific student and fan!
Then I played the Remo thunder tube. And she became so excited, she reached out and grabed it. Her mother said she couldn’t hold things in her hands. But she pinned the thunder tube between her right hand and lap, and resisted a bit as I reached to take it and play again. However, at no time did she play any of the instruments. I tried to get her to hold a shaker egg, but without success. Eventually she held the thunder tube almost entirely in her hand. My session lasted almost 40 minutes, and I was very pleased at her attentiveness, willingness to engage me, and willingness to challenge her own limitations.
Music and the Brain
I believe the favorable response and attentiveness during this treatment was due to the child’s attentiveness to engage me and the sounds and colors of the instruments. By the end of the session, she had remarkable focus and level of excitement, and briefly drank from a bottle. And then stood up by holding onto the porch railing, and stretched in excitement. I explained to her mother that these type of therapies might be helpful in her walking or talking someday. The family has a piano where she and the other kids will gather around and play together. I’m told she likes the bass noteson the piano. So I suspected she’d love the sound of a bass drum (I did not have on this trip). I would be curious as to what an EEG would show of her brain waves since she craved active sounds. She’d also been to a Blue Man showwhere the performers made her part of the show.
Music & Drumming Therapy as Healing Arts
EMDR therapy is one related sound and movement therapy that comes to mind and is used in PTSD and sensory processing disorders to desensative the individual. I reflected on new EMDR methodsin 2002 when I undertook my sound sensory study with the Boss metronome (discussed further below). As EMDR is also a “healing art,” I’ve shared my blog below on CAM and alternative medicine. It is from 2012. But it’s been updated. It is the first third or so of this blog, where I discuss my past mind-body methods, that I think is relevant to music and drumming therapytoday. In these regards, I believe the benefits come from more than sound and interaction, they come from the authencity and “intent” of the therapists. And this is widely true thoughout the various alternative medicinemodalities. There must be a BUY INby the patient! The trust and optimism causes a release of neurochemicals in the brain and change in cell structurethroughtout the body.
Drumming for the Brain & its Effect on Brain Wave States
In EMDR Therapy, the therapists determines what to say and how to integrate sound and visual cues. It has been discovered via Parkinson’s Disease work that happy and relaxing activities please the brain and aid in the release of endorphins, particularly dopamine. Dopamine levels often run low in PD. I am uncertain as to the effect seen in cerebral palsyand autism. But I observed in my session with this child that she had a strong affinity for rapid stimulation thru musical toys, also confirmed by her mother.
I am unsure whether Eliza’s low functioning state kept her brain wavesin a lowered state, i.e. alpha. But she craved rapid stimulation. I felt it critical that I engage her in a step-by-step method of rhythmic movements and sound so as not to overstimulate her, and maintain her focus and level of engagement. Most of what I played were slower rhythms. The most up tempo I played was a moderate samba on the bell and clave. And this was only one session. I didn’t have opportunity to stimulate her on multiple levels. And at the end of this single session, I could see she was tired.
I suspect a djembe drum or bass drum might also captivate her. I’ve observed a young girl with marked autismat the HB pier who will sit right in front of the large fast playing djembes. I’ve been concerned it may not be healthy for a child at her level, though she appears drawn to the stimulation. Children have lower brain wavesuntil their teens. So any artificial attempt to speed them up could have adverse consequences. This is also why caffeine and sugar act differently in children.
The next day Eliza’s mother contacted me to share that she slept thru the night and seemed remarkably calmer after the drumming session. This experience is one of the reasons WHY I became involved in drumming. It has also helped me personally in managing many of my own challenges with hydrocephalus. Further below, I discuss some of the contraindications and research with sensory processing disorder, including, a blog with audio examplesfrom YouTube of problematic machinery noise.
I have been involved in drumming therapysince before I became involved in drumming in 2004. It was my 2002 sound sensory processing studywith the Boss metronome which were my orginal efforts in sound patterning. After becoming involved in drumming in 2004, my interests were split between play and research. I authored this first web page on drumming entitled, What is a Drum Circle, which discusses some of the science plus my own views on drumming, or drum circles.
In 2005, I put on my very first drumming for the brain workshopat the High Hopes Head Injurycenter in Tustin, CA. From there, I began to put on a wide array of drumming for health events, though these were mostly for disorders of the brain and central nervous system. This drumming for wellness page below features some of these efforts.
Drumming therapy is finding success today in 1:1 and group sessions with ADHD, ADD, autism, hydrocephalus, Parkinson’s Disease, post TBI, aging, and more. What is critical in all of this is that the individual and group ENGAGE!
The information on my above drumming web pages discusss how you can obtain a drumming event, workshop, or therapy session with me.
I created the above Cognitive Neuroscienceweb page to encompass my neurosciences efforts from hydrocephalus to mHealth, sensory processing disorder, drumming, drumming therapy, cognitive accessibility, and related outreach. Like so many sites and pages, it is a work in progress to keep it up to date.
Generally speaking, decibel appsonly help you with loudness or decibel levelof surrounding sound before it might become problematic for you, your child, or parent. Unfortunately, the triggering aspect of sound, is more in its pattern and pitch than loudness, and is why I undertook this next study in 2002 on sound and sensory processing – to understand the types and effects of sound exposure on persons with hydrocephalus who also have SPD. I feel the types of SPD challenges I evaluated in hydrocephalus is similar to that of autism and other neurological and learning disorders.
As for balance, coordination, fitness, and sensory processing challenges, it doesn’t get much better than shooting baskets– which I began doing therapeutically in 2008. I eventually met up with another shooter, Al Massip, and our on court discussions turned to philosophy and brain science. One day, I posed the question, Where does the Shot come From? And this became a focal point of our shooting for several years, until 2015 when I published this in-depth blog that now attracts 500+ monthly visitors from all over the world. This suggests a lot of people are trying to answer this question. The answer may be in part mystical too. On a therapeutic level, my basketball and drumming with basketball methods are very helpful for a number of neurological disdordersand brain health.
The final supporting presentation below was from my power point as part of a talk I delivered at Wayne State University on drumming and rhythm methods in STEM3 education. I discuss a range of implications from language and learning, to speaking tempo and entrainment of teacher/student, to health and sound sensory processing and classroom noise considerations.
From my 20+ years in living with hydrocephalus, research and writing about the brain, a lifetime of playing music, 17 years in nuclear medicine, and coach on 20 little league soccer and baseball teams, I truly understand how drumming helps others.
Contact me if you are interested in drumming therapy sessions, consults, or having me speak at an event. The best method of contact is via email.
Stephen Dolle Neuroscientist, mHealth Inventor & Drum Circle Facilitator Email: contact[at]dollecommunications[dot]com DolleCommunications.com
Who are we? What are we doing here? Why do I get sick and feel pain? What are the limits of the human mind? Why do we have conflict? What happens after we die? These are perhaps the most common questions asked about human life.
The photo above of me playing at a full moon drum circle was taken in 2009 as I led a group of some 200 drummers. I have changed my header to this blog several times looking for the perfect “image” to best explain what occurs in spontaneous healing (it’s often not spontaneous, rather is over a day or few days) from mind-body practices. When I saw the above photo, I was intrigued by the clarity and number of unusual shapes in the flames of the bonfire. There were quite a few other photos too. Some refer to this as “animal spirits.” I really have limited knowledge of animal spirits, only know about it from books I’ve read. But what I do know, is about mind-body and intuitive healing from over 40 years of experience and study. Many of these occurred in my medical work, and 5-10 occurred as near spontaneous healing in my own personal health.
My experience in health and wellness spans 17 years as as a nuclear medicine technologist (1976-1992) where I interviewed several thousand patients – the majority having cancer, my work as a drum circle facilitator (since 2004), my work as a neuroscientist as a medical device consultant/mHealth developer/patient advocate, and personal health consults I’ve provided to friends and family over the years. I enrolled in pre-med at the University of Cincinnati in 1973. However, my heart wasn’t in it, in large part because I had witnessed several remarkable intuitive events that I could not explain.
I have benefitted from a variety of alternative medicine modalities that date back to the 1970s. While I have undergone twelve (12) brain shunt surgeries with CNS shunts for hydrocephalus, I never abandoned my mind-body medicine roots. My earlier work in nuclear medicine enabled me to develop an mHealth solution for hydrocephalus in 1997. And by 2004, I began to innovate new health solutions using Western Medicine, mHealth, and the healing arts (mind-body medicine). Perhaps one of the more novel health methods I personally use is applied kinesiology (AK) and cranial adjustments (dev by osteopathic medicine), where I perform a self-assessment and adjustment of my cranial misalignment caused by my hydrocephalus and chronic meningitis. I do not currently provide “medical intuitive” consults. But I provide neurological consults for hydrocephalus, advice on mHealth, and am developing several new drumming programs – including a novel program for basketball. Drumming is an extraordinary tool to facilitate “change.“
I initially wrote this blog in 2012 and have updated it multiple times, including, this update of May 11, 2016. I now realize it should be re-written and re-organized – time I could apply to a book on the subject. I enjoy WordPress as I can link related blogs. I have done my best today to tie in the most important points of this discussion.
There are many mind-body or healing arts practices today. They are listed under quite a number of alternative health subjects. The most widely used are: Alternative Medicine, Holistic Medicine, Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (CAM), Integrative Medicine, the Healing Arts, and Mind-Body Medicine. There are hundreds of thousands, if not millions of books and stories on the subject.
Complimentary & Alternative Medicine or CAM was created by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to bridge the gap between Western Medicine and accepted methods of alternative medicine. Within Western medicine, CAM is usually limited to traditional modalities like acupuncture, meditation, music therapy, and massage.
In September 2015, I spoke on Alternative Medicine and CAM in Addiction Treatment at Sovereign Health of Orange County. I had been wanting to write an up to date paper on alternative medicine, and the addiction presentation provided the opportunity. In that blog, I list most of today’s modalities with supporting information. Feel free to open up this blog on alternative medicine methods in addiction treatment.
Many healing modalities, but just a limited number of mechanisms thru which healing occurs. Further below, I discuss man of these.
I also now face a personal health challenge that Western Medicine has not been able to resolve. So, I am driven in part by this in my quest to discover new and more effective mind-body techniques to benefit my own health.
Highlights of Mind-body Healing Blog
1. Overview of Alternative Medicine and Mind-Body Medicine
2. Interviews with Several Thousand Patients battling Cancer (1981-1992) – The Connection with Illness to your Thoughts and Beliefs
3. Experiences with Spontaneous Healing
4. Experiences with Self-Hypnosis – Discovering the Subconscious Mind
5. Understanding the Placebo Effect widely seen in Pharmacology Studies
6. Can Mindfulness Prevent Injury and Illness?
7. Drumming Methods helpful in Healing
8. Basketball, Mindfulness, and Movement Therapies
Components needed for Mind-Body Healing (all healing arts)
Your Brain and Related Functions
Your Mind and Consciousness
Your Personal/Spiritual/Religious Beliefs
The types of Practices you Undertake that Resonate best with You
A Supportive Physical & Social Environment conducive to Healing
Self-Care via Diet, Exercise, Brain Health, and minimizing Substance Abuse
Time and Commitment to Mind-Body Practices
Our brains are far more capable than we know. It is the occasional extraordinary event that draws our curiosity. Some will stop there. Many will explore further.
Given our connection to the planets and stars, it is likely that gravitational and planetary forces play a role in our health in this earthly dimension.
Earlier Experiences in Mind-Body Medicine and CAM
I was first exposed to alternative and mind-body teachings in 1971 thru books on ESP, psychology, philosophy, sales and motivation, and mindfulness. While in pre-med in college, I delved into psychology, and eventually chose NOT to go on to medical school. Instead, I took a one-year internship in nuclear medicine technology. I continued to read about philosophy, mindfulness, and mind-body medicine in books by Dr. Wayne Dyer,Dale Carnegie, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. In 1978, I became involved in new studies on spirituality, music, and nutrition. That same year, I had a compelling tarot card reading that indicated I should move out West. As I was working in nuclear medicine, I was inclined to validate these methods with science as best I could.
Major Breakthrough in 1981 helps me overcome Peripheral Neuropathy
I had a major metaphysical breakthrough in 1979 that led to meeting my wife. Two years later, I had my 1st validated mind-body healing experience that led to unexpected skills, or abilities, as a medical intuitive – corroborated in my work as a nuclear medicine technologist.
This healing experience came courtesy of a 3-week trial of Bufferin undertaken for pain associated with a peripheral neuropathy disorder. The healing trial spanned 6-12 months as I was being passed around from doctor to doctor. I had 8-10 years of reading books & articles on allergies, healing, spirituality, and nutrition. So I knew what was possible! Executing it was another story, however. Arguably, it was “serendipity.”
For as long as I could remember, I had a severe allergy to “aspirin” and would break out in hives from just the slightest bit of aspirin. I’d had become so disfigured at times, I became unable to function or go out for several days to a week.
It was earlier in 1981 when Dr. Horwitz, a Hoag Hospital radiologist I worked with, suggested I try a high dose regimen of Bufferin to help with pain that had become so disabling it had begun to limit my work. There were no NSAID drugs at that time. And I did not want to take opiates. I had read a number of articles on allergies and the use of mind-body mechanisms to overcome them. I knew at the core of even my allergy, there was a long held mis-directed belief that caused the hives. I knew I needed to only confront this unconscious memory and “change” my belief concerning it.
My neuromuscular or peripheral neuropathywas diagnosed by way of abnormal EMGs of both arms & legs, and a positive muscle/nerve biopsy of my left lower leg. Both of my legs had become thin and atrophied in appearance from the nearly 10 years I suffered these complaints. This was about June 1980. The Hoag neurologist informed me I would have to change careers and find a desk job to accommodate the loss of muscle tone in my back and legs. He told me I would also no longer be able to play sports.
So, for several weeks, I prayed and meditated on this allergy to aspirin, and “asked” the higher power that I be able to take Bufferin for several weeks to possibly help with my pain. I had very modest expectations. But like most types of change, I needed a push or catalyst — and this came one day by way of delayed test results & frustration in my rheumatologist’s office – that caused me to storm out and never return. On that day, I took responsibility for my health! And it changed me life!
The next day, I took my first tablet of Bufferin – AND I did NOT break out in hives. Then, I took another. And another! And there were no hives. Over the next 3 weeks, I took the maximum dose of 8 or 12 tablets per day. Whatever was the label’s listed maximum dosage at that time, that’s what I took.
By the end of my 2nd week on this Bufferin dose, my back and leg pains were remarkably improved, so much so, I was able to leap about my department’s exam rooms and lift heavy patients without limitation. Two weeks earlier, I could barely stand on my feet.
In the months that followed, I discovered when my complaints returned, all I needed do was “think” about the Bufferin and how I felt when taking it – the pain and weakness would quickly go away. This really caught my attention and led me to explore this apparent “Placebo Effect” further. So, over the next few months, anytime I experienced an ailment, a cold, an injury of any kind, etc., I would treat it through a mind-body conversation. I would look at my complaints, have a brief discussion with myself over it, and then tell it to go away. But this wasn’t the only change in my life. I soon realized I could see or “sense” illness in my patients and clinical work in nuclear medicine.
At that time, I had been working as a nuclear medicine technologist at Hoag Memorial Hospital in Newport Beach for about 2 years. But I had been a technologist since 1976. I performed about 6-8 diagnostic & therapeutic procedures per day – each of which I worked up clinically. Apparently, with my change in consciousness from this healing experience, I could now sense the type and location of illness, eg. spread of metastises in my cancer patients while in the imaging room and in my brief clinical workup – before results were available and reviewed by the radiologist. Today, this is referred to as “medical intuitive.”
I could see the illness usually by simply talking to the patient. I eventually began to share this with Hoag physicians and co-workers. But, I had to be careful as the prevailing views about this then were that it was “quackery.” And I did not wish to be disciplined. I also could not share any results with patients. However, on occasion I would impart a healing affirmation or blessing to a patient. I had many wonderful discussions and thousands of patient interviews over the next eleven years (1981 to 1992) of imaging work.
1981 was many years before CAM would become accepted by Western medicine. And at that time, there were really no or few opportunities to do this for a living, which I was very interested in pursuing. So instead, I spent the next 10 years applying my mind-body methods to film & theatre acting, vocal work, and my own imaging business, plus became involved in a wide array of spiritual, health, and wellness healing modalities. If you get a chance, please also visit my in-depth blog on the brain science of basketball where I delve into the role of “mindfulness” of movement and proprioception in athletics.
Surviving the Challenges of a Major Neurological Disorder
In 1992, I developed the condition hydrocephalus after an auto accident in Costa Mesa, CA. In the past, I was able to manage any illness in-part with mind-body methods. But the hydrocephalus affected my cognition, making mind-body practices very difficult.
From 1992 to 2013, I underwent a total of 12 brain shunt surgeries with many related complications. I did fairly well considering the health challenges I faced.
I remain involved in the care and treatment of hydrocephalus, the cognitive neurosciences, mHealth apps, and putting on drumming workshops. I use the term “nuts & bolts” to describe my work with Western Medicine, i.e. methods which can be corroborated and reproduced by science, and CAM methods as healing via “the unseen,” referring to methods that are not well corroborated by pier reviewed medical studies. Many of my methods in drumming are now being corrborated today.
2012 (near) Spontaneous Healing of an Abdominal Fungal Rash
In March 2012, I experienced a near spontaneous healing of an abdominal fungal rash that arose from mycomplete VP shunt revision of Feb. 12, 2012. My peritoneal catheter had been revised by inflating my abdomen with air (laporoscopy technique). But it left a fungal rash at the site of both fenestrations that spread all over my abdomen and chest. The image shows it at 7 days post op. Sorry for the graphic illustration!
I was prescribed Betamethasone Dipropionate cream, a corticosteroid, and had been applying it for 6 weeks. It had spread even up to my chest. One Saturday morning in March 2012, I lay in bed and expressed my frustration as to why it hadn’t gone away. In that moment, I recall looking at the rash and saying, “You need to go away.” I thought it, and I meant it too. I didn’t commit any additional thought to it for the rest of the day. In the evening as I prepared for bed and removed my shirt, I noticed the rash was gone. Completely gone! Not a trace. I recall experiencing a wonderful feeling of calm.
From my years of reading and being involved in healing practices, I best explain this healing as a mindfulness affirmation, where my affirmation was also a command that the rash to go away. This was a bit different than my practices of the 1980s, when I held dialog with my body, injury, or illness, and gave instruction and asked that it be healed. On this day in 2012, I commanded it to go away. That’s a bit different mindset. I’m sure there are healing experts who might better explain this. This is my best recollection and understanding of the healing mechanism.
2010 Spontaneous Healing of Injured Shoulder at my YMCA Gym
The following is a spontaneous healing of my right shoulder that occurred in 2010 while working out in my area YMCA gym. I have had rotator cuff problem in my (non dominant) right shoulder for 30 plus years and it had been limiting the amount of dumbell weights for several months. Earlier I had a fantastic chiropractor who could help with adjustments. I’d been dealing with several months of pain and limitation that was especially problematic while lifting dumbell weights.
On this day, I was doing my normal routine, but with only about half the weight. And “something” occurred in between reps as I glanced over and caught a glimpse of a pretty buff guy who was lifting a lot of weight. In that instant, I had a moment of enlightenment, where for no particular reason I said to myself, “I can do that too” (lift heavy weights). And I instantantly began lifting my usual past weight, twice as much as when limited by pain. But now all pain was gone. In an instant, something happened in my consciousness where my shoulder became healed (at least from pain). I chronicled this on my Facebook Fan page where I attempted to explain it. I admit it came amid a more stable period of mental and physical health– that I think lends itself to healing. I feel the healing mechanism is self-hypnosis by way of conscious affirmation with the subconscious mind. There are many techniques for “healing.” In hypnosis and self-hypnosis, you modify your subconscious belief system.
Most Eastern healing methodologies follow “meridian theory,” which follows a map of the body’s energy fields. This also involves one’s physical and spiritual influences. Chiropractic medicine takes this a step further by adding “diagnostic” evaluations with a practice termed “Applied Kinesiology,” or AK, which uses the muscle reflext test. Chiropractors use AK as biofeedback to test and treat a variety of injuries & conditions. It is also used by practitioners in psychotherapy.
Applied Kinesiology is also involved in the body’s responses during drumming via an array of physiologic & meridian field interactions – which includes thru movement, emotion, vibration, connectedness, and brain wave entrainment. I’ve written extensively on drumming for the brain on my web site and blog. I host a dedicated web page on the Cognitive Neurosciences with links to my papers, blogs, and related web pages.
Other methods of biofeedback measurement include assessment of breathing, heart rate, brain waves, body temperature, and blood flow in the fingertips (i.e. the color Stress Card). I found AK testing easy to use and reproduce. It is also used in truth assessment. Other methods of truth assessment include heart rate monitoring (i.e. lie detector tests), voice, hand-writing, and eye contact analysis.
The effectiveness of CAM therapies is in part dependent on the level of “engagement,” or how well the individual believes and interacts with the methodology. In taiko drumming, for instance, there must be considerable engagement of the physical and emotional self. This is true in hand drumming & drum circles too. I incorporate these methods in my health and wellness drumming. CAM’s effectiveness can sometimes rival that of Western Medicine. In both, you must believe and have a desire to be healed. You can also choose to fight your treatment, where you will see poor outcomes. Reciprocally, you can be healed through your belief in a sugar pill, known as the “placebo effect.” The favorable response rate of the placebo effectin prescription drug studies ranges from 15-40%. Plant Therapy, like that seen in the photo below, is also useful in mind-body healing.
There is considerable evidence in support of the positive benefits of a physician’s bed-side manner in healing. I’ve witnessed numerous examples on this in Western Medicine. And at the center of each favorable outcome, is almost always LOVE & TRUST. As humans, we are particularly effected by the power of LOVE. And love is at the core of most CAM modalities, from energy work to meditation, chiropractic to drumming, CAM allows participants to engage their bodies, mind, and spirit thru love & trust. Just look at the love, trust, and engagement of the children in this drum circle below.
The effectiveness of CAM and mind-body modalities is also in large part dependent on the patient having an OPEN state of mind. The OPEN state of mind allows the patient to direct his/her thoughts and beliefs in support of the healing, and especially so when prompted by a therapist or facilitator, and similarly, in healing affirmations in your at home sessions. In fact, an OPEN state of mind is required to achieve success in almost every activity in life from sports play to school, counseling to group drumming (group hypnosis), and overcoming adversity. Keep an OPEN MIND. And BELIEVE!
It was in 1994 two years post hydrocephalus that I began to utilize music as therapy to help my related health challenges, and took music classes at Orange Coast College. This helped to reconnect my intuitive brain with my emotional self and address some of the damage done to me physically. This enhanced intuitive function became important to medical research I was doing, where my memory and short term memory were often problematic in complex neuroscience, mHealth, and artificial intelligence topics.
I also conducted research and wrote about sound Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)in neurological disorders, and drumming therapyas an adjunct healing art. The blog below was updated in April 2016. The opposite to calm, is CHAOS, like in the TV sets some of us grew up with.
In 2002, I undertook a study of Sensory Processing Disorderthat revealed important findings in cognition and mindfulness. Though my focus was SPD in hydrocephalus, my findings are relevant to ADHD, autism, migraine, post TBI, PTSD, addiction disorders, and anyone requiring mental focus and mindfulness. The inability to achieve this state often leads to illness and/or injury.
In 2008 I became involved in “cognitive accessibility,” the front line of accessibility accommodations relating to sensory processing disorder. I also own the domain http://www.CognitiveAccessibility.org
I am extensively involved in drumming for the brain as a facilitator, event organizer, neuroscience researcher, and speaker. Since 2005, I have put on over 200 community and private drumming events, including, numerous drumming workshops involving my research. I find group drumming particularly effective in health and wellness as it allows for the merging of neuroscience principles with the healing arts, and which can be tailored to programs to for specific health populations. Drumming is supported by both Western medicine and CAM principles.
Between my professional hydrocephalus consults, community drumming, Meetup events, and drumming workshops, I have validated many of my drumming methods.
In 2012, I conducted a 1:1 drumming therapy sessionwith a young girl with cerebral palsy and autism. She ended up having a remarkable response to my 35 minute drumming session, using only small hand percussion. Her favorite instrument turned out to be the Thunder Tube (not pictured) that she attempted to hold.
No doubt one of the more powerful mind-body group therapies is “group drumming.” It offers the ability to help participants detach from the constraints of their self-imposed belief system in healing of illness, managing pain, and overcoming the psychological hurdles needed to usher change in their life for self-healing. Drumming is able to alter our perception and attachment to a set of beliefs and behavior. The challenge for the facilitator then is in creating the right setting and structure.
The nuts & boltsportions I carry out through physical play and exercises, while the CAM portions are carried out through discussion, play, and affirmations of who/what you are, and who/what you want to be. Be it the effects of a brain disorder like hydrocephalus, or the metastatic spread of cancer, I believe drumming play and affirmations can create the kind of change in one’s belief system to cause change in one’s physical body. What is needed are structured workshops fine tuned to the specific population and setting.
I cannot say enough about athletic, movement, and proprioception activities. I’ve spent a lifetime in athletics and coaching, including, more than 20 of my son’s AYSO soccer and little league baseball teams where I often used philosophy and mind-body teachings, and in 10 years of my drumming work today.
I like to incorporate applied kinesiology, or AK, into wellness programs and therapeutic drumming. With a strong medical technology background, I was also able to design and patent an mHealth app for hydrocephalus in 1997, which today could accommodate AK testing and results. I’ve now written about mHealth appsfor migraine, and more widely in health care in these two blogs below.
I’m a big fan of AK and its diagnostic properties, and I use these methods to regularly evaluate and adjust my own cranial deficits, spinal misalignments, and shunt malfunction. I believe AK could be used to focus energy on a health problem during drumming play. The area could be the site of a tumor, a failing implant, or an injury.
The broader role for mHealth apps in CAMis as clinical case managers in ongoing therapy, in AK diagnostics with practitioners, and with your own at home practices. Bear in mind the primary weakness of the human brain is “memory.” Currently poor documentation of treatments limits CAM outcomes. mHealth apps and software would aid documenting this for better continuity of effective treatment.
The big challenge today for the next generation mHealth apps and UI interfaces is: How do you design apps that facilitate healing, while not being a distraction to healing? What is needed is an mHealth interface that includes the nuts & bolts of medicine, while not overwhelming the patient and allowing for interactive discussion and healing.
At the core of all healing is this profound statement, “What you believe to be true, Is.” This is termed the Biology of Belief.” Summing it up, it means that when you change your belief system — You change your life and health!
You can’t recover from an illness until you BELIEVE it will happen! You must also have “balance” in your life which will help in managing all aspects of your life. The Wheel Of Life image below illustrates the eight areas of your life you must bring into harmony.