Guns vs. Drums: Which is better for your mental health?
There’s been another mass shooting in the U.S., and this time at a community college in Oregon. Like so many of the other shooters of these mass shootings, the shooter also suffered from a learning disability and likely related sensory processing disorder (SPD) and mental health issues. But why are these individuals and their families advocating the use of guns and related shooting activities say at gun ranges – as a form of MENTAL HEALTH THERAPY?
But unlike President Obama and so many gun control advocates (and zealots), I see this from a different angle. I see it from the perspective of misguided practices across the U.S. for persons with developmental, learning, and mental health disorders – whose families believe that gun recreation & shooting is the right THERAPY for their brain health challenges.
Now I know a lot about brain health as I have been living with the disorder, hydrocephalus, since a 1992 auto accident, and became a neuroscientist and drum circle facilitator as a result of challenges I and so many others face today. I put on drumming workshops for a wide variety of brain disorders. I see with from a different angle, and I see firsthand how engagement activities can help, or hurt the affected individual.
My heart goes out to the families with children with developmental and mental health disorders as they’ve been looking for activities and outreach for their children for many years. I see the parents’ fear and exhaustion when they bring their adult children to my workshops. But in the case of so many of the mass shootings in the U.S. over the past 20 years, it appears many were carried out by individuals with development or brain health challenges, and it was their parents that got them into gun recreation – thinking it will bring them peace and help them better integrate into society. But, what we’re finding in these shootings, is that they are mis-using the guns to act on “untreated” brain health issues. And in these cases, other activities and therapies need be undertaken.
There is actually a lot of similarities in the sensory and personal qualities of guns vs. drums. In each, it is the vibration and sounds that provides a brain “buzz” of sorts. Both also give the individual an enhanced feeling of importance. But that’s where it ends!
Affected individuals are often drawn to activities like guns, drums, and even auto racing for the sensory “highs” they provide, much like a drug. Parents often feel gun recreation and therapy helps maintain calm, and ward off mental health and SPD meltdowns. But the brains of many of these individuals are often not high functioning enough to know the difference between right vs. wrong – and with a gun, automobile, or other deadly device, it can be a lethal combination. And the vast majority of affected individuals also face challenges in cognition, sensory processing disorder, and cognitive accessibility. In medical terminology, I would call ill-advised recreation with guns “contraindicated.” And as for alternatives, there are many!
I have been involved with drumming, or drum circles, for 11 years now, and I put on a variety of drumming workshops for the brain, and with excellent results.
The sound & vibration of the drums effects one’s brain waves, and its group activity qualities allow for team building, leadership, and creative expression. On a therapeutic level, drumming acts as neurofeedback, sensory, and occupational therapy all in one, and helps to normalize associated cognitive, behavioral, and sensory complaints in these disorders.
My web site and blog links below detail health science information drumming, basketball, and alternative medicine modalities
Again, to me the bigger issue is WHY parents are advocating the use of guns & gun recreation in unstable children with mental health disorders? There are so so many recreational and outreach activities far more ideal for these children, many of whom are now adults.
On a political level, it seems the Obama administration is more concerned with gun control, and the plight of illigal immigrants and refugees from Syria, than the plight of Americans and American families with children with developmental and mental health disorders.
In my view, these shootings are not so much a problem about guns, but a problem about the lack of understanding of mental and developmental health, and how to best care for these individuals as adults. Sixty years ago, many of these shooters might have been institutionalized. We’ve moved away from that, but we’ve failed to modernize our practices. This has been an evolving crisis for many years!
In my addiction blog above, I detail the science of many of these disorders, and share results from many alternative and sensory therapies. In addiction disorders, both mental health and learning disorders often occur together as “dual disorders.” I recently spoke on this new area of brain science at Sovereign Health. I am involved with drumming and drum circles for these disorders, and have seen great results.
This Orange County firm wasn’t sure what they were getting into when they asked to have a drum circle workplace wellness program in their firm in March 2015. The twenty or so employees who attended became highly engaged, creative, and experienced a big boost in their energy.
In the above video, staff can be seen exploring creativity and communications with fellow employees. There was also a genuine willingness to follow Dolle’s instructions to bring what began as a rhythm only with bells, into a fully synchronized drum circlerhythm.
In life & work, innovation comes when you trust your instincts in working with one another. This 8-minute rhythm in this drum circle video began with (4) complimentary gongo bell patterns that involved two senior partners of the firm. Next, hand drums, sound shapes, and small percussion were incrementally brought in to support the bells and beat pattern. The result was an improvisational masterpiece. The video only captured the final two minutes.
The truth is, the same health challenges that affect us at home, can affect your productivity, creativity, and problem solving abilities at work. So this Orange County firm experienced how drumming can be one of the best activities for workplace wellness, how it stimulates employee engagement, and activates key productivity centers in the brain.
As founder, drum circle facilitator, and neuroscientist with Dolle Communications, Stephen Dolle has considerable experience with drum circles and related workshops. He can also offer tips on employee engagement and productivity. Dolle has seen a lot of workplace challenges made more manageable thru drumming. What makes drumming unique, is how it affects both the brain and body, where the vibration of the instruments produces a calming effect on the individual. It results in a happier, more engaged, and connected employee ready to deal with the challenges of the workplace.
Drum Circles in the Workplace
There are a variety of ways that drum circles are used to bring positive change, increased productivity, and employee resiliency to the workplace. Three of these include:
Drumming for stress reduction/resiliency, where drum circles allow employees to engage and play/share during the middle of the work day in a fun environment. The benefits include increased productivity and employee health. Typical play times are 30 to 60 minutes.
Drumming for team-building, where drum circles are used to help employees better connect and improve working relationships, critical in team concentric operations. This type of drumming is also ideal at ice-breakers and retreats to get participants to come and and engage with others. The benefits include increased expression of thoughts & ideas, improvement in productivity, and fewer errors and mis-understandings thru improved communications. Typical play times are 60-90 minutes.
Drumming for creativity & problem solving in the workplace. This is an issue in the workplace that is not well understood, where strategies range between compartmentalizing challenges to brain storming sessions. Ultimately, there are two primary forms of problem solving: 1) analytical or comparitive reasoning, and 2) free-thinking where methods are employed to free up worker’s minds. The benefits include increased problem solving ability thru retraining of the mind. Typical play times are 60 to 90 minutes.
Now for some remarkable brain science and workplace development. Employees tend to play much better when not instructed as to how or what to play. The reason is, when faced with unfamiliar circumstances and no punative consequences, employees will usually rely on their innate problem solving abilities, in which case here is the ability to play music and rhythm that is innate within all of us. As such, most groups do very well.
Group drumming in the workplace then builds trust and confidence in one’s innate abilities, where typically people have either been discouraged from trusting their judgment, or have been given strict instruction not to act on their initiatives. It is in this latter regards that strict company structure can leave employees never learning to trust their judgment in leadership, problem solving, or managerial duties. Group drumming can be just what the doctor ordered, and help usher in change towards more healthy group dynamics. Not only is this good for productivity, it’s critical for stress-relief and mental health.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) defines “workplace wellness” as a health promotion activity or organization-wide policy designed to support healthy behavior and improve health outcomes while at work. They report that these programs should consist of activities such as health education and coaching, weight management programs, medical screenings, on-site fitness programs, and more.
Notwithstanding living with chronic illness or injury, the biggest challenge to workplace productivity remains employee engagementand maintaining the necessary focusto do your job really well. Dolle says more challenges at work are due to inadequate mental focus. So he says the solutions, then, should be tailored to maintaining mental stamina, flexibility, and executive cognitive skills.
There are a number of organizations today which provide consulting in employee health as recommended by the CDC. The CDC also offers a free worksite health scorecard and other materials for implementing a health promotion program in your workplace.
Concentra also offers health program consulting designed to encourage healthier lifestyle behavior in employees, intended to reduce health care spending. A successful wellness program can benefit employers by developing and maintaining a healthier, more productive workforce and community.
Dolle notes that the two most important things you can undertake for wellness and productivity at work is proper hydration with water throughout the day, and moving about physically. You should also follow these practices at home. These two simple steps, he says, help keep blood flowing to deliver oxygen and needed nutrients to your body’s vital organs, including, to your brain.
Dolle Communications provides drum circle facilitation, tips on employee engagement and productivity, learning and leadership, and mHealth design consulting in the greater Orange County, CA area. Dolle provides all the necessary instruments and materials for a drum circle, and facilitates a variety of drumming workshops at your place of business or desired location. Drum circles aid resilience, leadership, creativity, productivity, and wellness in the workplace. It truly is an organicly inspired staff experience!
The company puts on a variety of drumming for wellness workshops, which have become recognized today within integrative medicine in offering substantial health benefits to a range of medical conditions.
Dolle also has several startups under his belt, including, DiaCeph Inc.,a startup for his 1997 design of an mHealth app (DiaCeph Test) for hydrocephalus. And from 1982 to 1992, he serviced more than 50 hospitals through his medical imaging company, Certified Nuclear Imaging (CNI).
CNI presented Dolle with the opportunity to work with a vast array of medical instrumentation challenges that would be overwhelming for most technologists. He developed workplace methods and discipline that allowed him to excel in complex technical and medical challenges. The result was that he became more productive in performing procedures, while having extra time for sales and marketing to develop new business. He also became astute in client facility workplace challenges and often advised in human resource and medical instrumentation purchase matters, and wrote papers on these topics. Later, he raised money for and helped organize local sports & entertainment events, that could also be very demanding.
Dolle has been involved in the neurosciences since 1992 with his mHealth technology start-up, DiaCeph Inc.,and now with Dolle Communications. He describes workplace wellness as being about optimizing one’s energy and mental focus over a period of hours, days, weeks, and months. It is the few, the exception, he says, who truly master these challenges and successfully balance life and work.
Dolle says the keys to workplace productivity is thru employee engagementand staying involved and “entrained” in what is happening around you. As you ascend in your work to higher positions, you will need to develop methods that exert more control over brain wave states and productivity.
“Engage the Rhythms of your Brain”
Dolle has undertaken research with “brain waves” and brain wave entrainment, and employs these methods in his drum circles and facilitation work.
He describes that we change between alpha and beta brain wave states during our normal day, and that certain tasks and activities are best performed while in a particular brain wave state. Naturally, he says, our brain’s tire and we can become stressed and distracted. The experienced individual learns to transition their brain wave states and cognitive focusto overcome these challenges.
If you’re reading a slow moving book or working on a tedious problem at work, for instance, you’ll want to be in a slower more introspective alpha brain wave state. But, if you are tackling a multi-faceted project, or are working with a team of staff people on a project, you may want a faster more attentive beta brain wave state. And one of the best ways to shape your brain waves is either thru “controlled breath” or “rhythmic movement.” This slide below illustrates some of the mechanisms involved in movement.
There are a variety of techniques to help you transition between brain wave states. And group drumming, or drum circles, is one of the best. Drum circles utilize auditory drivingand spur mindfulness techniques. Drumming also engages body kinesthetics thru rhythmic movement of instrument play. These movements stimulate the body’s proprioceptive memories, which boost cognition. This is why you perform better at cognitive tasks when tapping out patterns or shaking a foot at your desk. Group drumming also enables team brain wave entrainment, helpful in boosting productivity. Kinesthetics come into play in tai chi and yoga, among others.
Group brain wave entrainment in drumming allows “entrainment” of the group to a rhythm played over 5-10 minutes. When sustained, members entrain to a common brain wave pattern, and thought intent. Rhythms vary from slow to fast, from primal to contemporary, corresponding to activation of hindbrain vs frontal lobe function. This principle is why you should not listen to contemporary musicwhile meditating, as it will help awaken conscious memories and activate the frontal lobe, which will interfere with breath entrainment with your hindbrain.
Sports play uses entrainment to for connectedness and success on the field or court. My in-depth basketball blogdetails the brain science and sports science mechanisms involved in play. Entrainment allows you to anticipate your teammate’s actions.
Another example of entrainment is when women work or live together, when they achieve syncopation of their menstrual cycles. Rioting is yet another example of group entrainment, though based on negative thought and intent. Entrainment occurs in animals too, and is widely seen in pack hunting. Entrainment occurs more often in real life than you might think.
There has been quite a bit of recent research with drumming and brain wave entrainment, which has led to drumming being used more often in stress reduction, cancer therapy, and treatment of chronic illness. Dolle undertook earlier research in sensory processing disorderor SPD, with this 2002 Sensory Processing Study. Two years later, he became involved in drumming.
Dolle spoke on brain wave entrainment and trance statesin STEM3 educationat Wright State University in 2011. Below is his power point via SlideShare.net.
Dolle believea trance heightened states are in fact a functional cognitive state you can achieve each day, and it is reported to occur in playing music, meditation, religious studies, fasting, and several other disciplines. Trance heightened states is mostly likely what athletes achieve when “in the zone” in sports.
Trance states could bring amazing new expert proficiencies to a variety of occupations. As an individual employee, your workplace goals in productivity should be in learning to better shift between alpha and beta brain wave states, and maintain optimum engagement so to get the most out of your work day.
Perhaps some of the most exciting research being done today with rhythm and the brain is at the Gazzaley Lab at the University of California San Francisco, in collaboration with the Grateful Dead’s long time drummer, Mickey Hart.
The Gazzaley Project is described as “Unlocking the power of rhythm to understand and enhance brain function.” Rhythm is a fundamental aspect of the universe at every level, and serves as a critical foundation for life on this planet.
They’ve created a new video of some of their music and brain research in an effort to make it more fun and informative.
The goal of the project is to advance an understanding of rhythm in higher-order brain function and how we influence brain rhythms through interventions like neuro modulation, rhythm training, video games, and neurofeedback. The ultimate goal of the project it says is to improve cognition and mood in the healthy and impaired, and positively impact quality of our life.
Here is a fun related article about rhythm and the brain.
As for new trends in workplace wellness, the article below discusses a list of 12 U.S. companies with impressive workplace wellness programs. The list includes IBM, Aetna, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Virgin, Google, American Express, Johnson & Johnson among others. I am unsure on their standing with drum circles though.
To learn more about the use of drum circles in the workplaceand tips on employee health and workplace learning, contact Stephen Dolle at Dolle Communications. Feel free to also CLICK and SAVE the JPEG contact card below.
Email: contact[at]dollecommunications[dot]com Web site: Dolle Communications Telephone: (949) 642-4592
On March 16, 2015, as a neuroscientist and intuitve of sorts, and drum circle facilitator, I posted on my Facebook and LinkedIn Orange County Drum Circle groups that I’d like to organize some “Drumming for Rain” drum circles to help bring rain to California. On April 6th, I wrote this blog in support of the spiritual and cognitive neurosciences aspect of the proposal, and since added my supporting experiences. So, this blog has been a work in progress. I haven’t updated since June 2015. but wanted to enclose the links to the two OCDC groups where this began, and which would host content if this ever comes to fruition.
I am suggesting three or four coordinated drumming events in all, with the first one beginning as early as June 2015. I renamed this blog, and going forward, it will serve as a key piece of the project’s information platform.
I am reaching out to regional drumming groups, American Indian tribes, and other organizations with an interest in drumming for rain. The format will follow best available spiritual, physical, and entrainment methods in drumming for rain.
This idea originated this past January when I had a vision on how multi-site drumming events just might help bring rain to California, and end the drought we’re hearing so much about in the news. I thought it might become a fantastic idea, organizing groups, calling upon the spirits. Positive human energy! True intent!
I have had passion for various kinds of drumming for more than 10 years, but particularly, drumming with nature, animals, and spiritual causes, and I regularly utilize his spirituality in my drumming events and workshops. I’m following a “vision” on how this project should proceed. Since 2005, I’ve organized over 100 different drumming events, and I feel guided in organizing the various groups to bring this about, and bring rain to drought-ridden California. I was inspired in 2008 when churches in the Southeastern United States organized prayer groups to help bring rain to the five year drought that affected that region. I also written to Goerge Nouri over at Coast to Coast Radio to share these plans.
Some of my past experience in drumming for weather and nature includes a 2007 “Drumming for Snow” event outside the Stefan Kaelin Ski store in Newport Beach. The following morning, it began to snow, and it snowed for four straight days.
I have been playing in drum circles since 2004, and organizing drumming events since 2005. My drumming with nature and animals has included: drumming for snow, horses, birds, sea lions, whales and dolphins, neighborhood dogs, and many numerous eco, full moon, and solstice events.
My experiences with the spirit world date back to his youth with American Indian cultural activities in Ohio and Michigan. In high school, I was found to know things he had no way of knowing. This led to his reading books on the mind, philosophy, meditation, and healing. In 1973, I began college in pre-med and became fascinated with psychology. But, my heart was not in medicine per say, so I switched my major to nuclear medicine technology, a branch of medical imaging, where I could continue reading and spiritual interests.
In 1981, I developed the ability to sense illness in my nuclear medicine patients, now termed a medical intuitive. Between 1981 and 1992, while working as a nuclear medicine technologist at numerous facilities around Orange County, California, most of these years with my own company, Certified Nuclear Imaging, I interviewed hundreds of sick and dying patients who shared their inner most thoughts and fears about life and death. What I learned, would astound you. I took an oath not to breach their privacy. But where able to, I would share some key experiences and stories.
As part of this Drumming for Rain project, I’ve reached out to two American Indian friends who are percussionists for their input and guidance. And I am contacting others with experience in drumming for rain. Then I’ll write up the suggested format for the events, to be shared with interested groups. I anticipate anywhere from 5 to 25 or more drumming, American Indian, and other groups will join this project, and play “sychronously” at the set times. I feel the synchonicity and energy could help produce the needed spirit call for rain in California. The locations shall be determined in the next several months by the area groups. I’ll post it here, on my Facebook & LinkedIn groups, and share the various web site and groups who will be participating. Follow your spirit guide as to where to play.
Likely Dates: The 1st event could be as early as mid June 2015, with 2-3 others scheduled Sept-Dec to reach into the rainy season. Each location/group can then tailor the drumming format to their own drumming practices and level of familiarity. Follow your spirit guide as they say!
Below, I am seen playing to sea lions along the Pacific Coast near Carmel in 2014.
In the unusual 2009 photo taken at a large full moon drum circle, there are thought to be spirit images or animal spirits, in the flames of the bonfire. I would regularly attend and often lead this drum circle, and would channel my energies to heal others in the world and around us.
On numerous occassions, I’ve witnessed drummers leave their present state of mind enter into likely “trance heightened states.” There are documented medical studies of musicians, monks, people who fast, and others in disciplines where they can channel themselves into “trance heightened states.” SEE the Power Point from 2011 I delivered at Wright State University. I believe when athletes get “in the zone” and deliver amazing on field play, they too are in trance heightened states. Many credit God too!
My American Indian influences began as a young child growing up in Cincinnati, Ohio, where I became exposed and fascinated with American Indian culture, practices, and traditions as early as age 3. In the summers, I would travel with my family to Northern Michigan, where I was exposed to American Indian culture. Ohio and Michigan had very deep and positive American Indian historical connections. In the forest by where I grew up, we named a particular hill and lookout “Indian Flats,” and regularly hiked to this site. At Summer camp, I made Indian crafts and clothing. At night, I would wander about with my brothers and kids from the neighborbood, and this is really where I honed my nightime telepathic skills. Between ages 5 and 16, I spent a considerable amount of time in the forest. At 16, I had my first documented intuitive, or paranormal, experience of knowing things. By 21, I was able to call upon these abilities without outside assistance.
In the photo below, I am seen speaking at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, on drumming for the brain concepts in STEM3 education.
If you’re interested in drumming, you should start by taking a basic class or workshop in your area. There are plenty of instructors and stores which sell instruments today, and community drum circles to get started. Eventually, you might find yourself playing to the weather, to animals and eco events, on stage, or at a healing event or ceremony.
To learn more on my drum circles and drumming for the brain, visit my web site and web pages on drum circles.
Let me share that I am shocked at Robyn’s unscientific approach to the syndrome of PMS, which is reported to be associated with a spectrum of physical and emotional health problems. In my 23 years of public health brain research, and in my drumming for the brain work with special populations, including, women’s health, I’ve seen countless examples of how physical disorders actually affect brain health, and how disorders of the brain affect physical health. It’s no longer a mystery. The real question is, what to do about it? So I left the comment below on Robyn’s TED talk page. I hope she and others read it.
Let’s use 2015 Brain Awareness Week to take a fresh look at PMS.
As a scientist, my gut sense is that PMS is rooted more in the brain’s sensitivity to changes in hormones. For instance, women are far more affected by thyroid, arthritis, and autoimmune disorders. They are more likely to feel empathy and have higher levels of the hormone oxytocin. Women also are able to “entrain” their menstrual cycles readily to each other, which is a function of their sensitivity. So, it would seem with this increased sensitivity to emotions, hormonal changes, and activities going on around them, that women could also suffer problematic physical changes in the brain and body from this resulting sensativity. Interestingly, I suspect there are similarities with PMS to that of PTSD, or post traumatic stress disorder, where for one cause or another, an individual’s brain is less able to process sensory information, and the results are physical changes in the brain, and eventually, in their overall health. Where PMS is a women’s syndrome, PTSD more disproportionately affects men.
Migraines more disproportionately affect women likely due to their higher hormonal activity and lower hydrostatic pressure in the brain from lower blood volume, and brain pressures. I’ve written about how weather apps and web sites can help in managing weather induced migraine headache.
Weather related low barometric pressure then is also more likely to induce migraine and hypotensive states in women, than in men. And, the slight loss of blood associated with menstruation, can cause a slight drop in blood pressure and exacerbate migraine syndromes. Together with each woman’s unique psychological makeup, these factors lend itself to a problematic cause & effect of mechanisms that impact brain health in women. Conversely, PTSD seems to affect women far less than men. So it would seem there are some unique health advantages to women’s physiology and brain health.
In support of women’s health, I put on drum circles and drumming events for women’s groups, and for women and others in the workplace.
Women tend to suffer fewer problems with homelessness, and drug and alcohol addiction, than their male counterparts.
This appears to be rooted in differences in the male versus female brains. One difference is with the neurochemical, oxytocin, widely regarded as the “love hormone,” which is found in higher levels in women than in men. But men who are active in community outreach and charitable activities, tend to have higher oxytocin levels. There is now an oxytocin nasal spray which has been greeted with mixed results. More recently, when I consider the plight of area homeless people and their associated mental health challenges, I can’t help but wonder whether oxytocin spray might help them, or whether their helping at an area outreach project might boost oxytocin levels, and help normalize wider brain function. Change has to begin somewhere. Here’s a related study:
In September 2015, I gave an in-depth presentation on how methods of alternative medicine can be used in drug and alcohol addiction, and covered related sensory processing disorder and cognitive accessibility. I also own the domain for CognitiveAccessibility.org.
In my 23 years of being involved in brain care and public health as both a patient and researcher, I’ve seen countless examples of how the prevailing views can be wrong. And Robyn’s dismissal of PMS as a physical syndrome, would appear to be wrong. I also think an mHealth app, coupled with blood work, counseling as needed, exercise, and wellness strategies, could be very helpful in management of PMS.
I am concerned with how Robyn Deluca glosses over the obviousness of PMS as NOT having “measurable medical sequela.” Instead, she attempts to label it a mental health or psychiatric disorder.
I think PMS should be labeled an actual disorder, a bit like PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), where both are a collection of physical complaints secondary to stress and sensitivities in physiology. The medical field seems intent on denying the existance of both of these, as it similarly has with SPD. I have found shooting baskets to be a wonderful mindfulness therapy for stress and SPD related complaints, and authored this blog.
Over the longer term, untreated brain health issues can result in the development of sensory processing disorder, or SPD, which is a collection of real neurological complaints that the U.S. government continues to refute today. I’ve written a great deal on this topic.
Apparently, PMS is a heated topic. I was attached by a fellow reader after I initially posted my impressions on Robyn’s conclusions on PMS. I hope those of you with firsthand experience who work with PMS patients will continue to voice your views against the politics of medicine.
To learn more about my work, contact me at Dolle Communications.
Stephen Dolle Drum circle Facilitator & Neuroscientist Public Health Advocate Email: contact[at]dollecommunications[dot]com Web site: Dolle Communications Telephone: (949) 642-4592
Do you suffer from arthritis? Do you have problems with your feet? And do you live in Orange County, California? If so, then you will find the following health information helpful for the treatment, wellness care, and prevention of arthritis flare ups.
There is quite a bit of online information today on arthritis. What I’ve done is aggregate an array of specific information from some popular sites on arthritis, osteoarthritis, and problems with your feet. I’ve copied & pasted some of this content, and identify the web pages and links where the additional information can be found.
Now I am a fan of preventive and wellness health information, including, apps and mHealth applications. As I live in Orange County, some of this health information, particulalrly the drumming, exercise, and massage therapy, is specific to Orange County, California. The rest is general treatment information. I have found DrWeil.com to be a great site for wellness & prevention. So, it appears at the top of my blog.
I am also a neuroscientist and drum circle facilitator, and offer drumming or “drum circles” for wellness, movement disorders, and wellness care for prevention of arthritis. And I’ve included my information on drumming for arthritis. In 2011 and 2012, I also provided drumming at the Orange County Arthritis Walk at the University of California at Irvine (UCI).
Suggested Lifestyle Changes
• Lose weight if you are overweight; it can alleviate excess mechanical stress on the affected joint(s).
• Avoid intense activities that injure or strain the joint cartilage.
• Exercise. This can actually be beneficial as long as it is performed at a level that does not stress the affected joint(s). Strengthening surrounding muscles will support and protect the joint, and physical activity helps improve and maintain joint mobility and aids weight-reduction efforts. The safest activities are swimming, stationary cycling and light weight training – which put little stress on the joints.
Nutrition & Supplements
Dietary changes may help alleviate or reduce the pain associated with osteoarthritis. Research has shown that foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids and the spices ginger and turmeric may help reduce inflammation. Foods rich in antioxidants – plentifully found in most vegetables and fruit – may help reduce tissue damage from inflammation.
• Eat oily fish such as salmon, or try another source of omega-3 fatty acids such as walnuts or freshly ground flax seed daily.
• Regularly use ginger and turmeric. Ginger tea is a good example.
• Eat generous amounts of organically grown vegetables and fruit every day.
The following are nutrients, botanicals and other compounds that Dr. Weil often recommends for joint health:
• Glucosamine sulfate. Glucosamine sulfate provides the joints with the building blocks they need to help repair the natural wear on cartilage caused by everyday activities. Specifically, glucosamine sulfate provides the raw material needed by the body to manufacture a mucopolysaccharide (called glycosaminoglycan) found in cartilage. Supplemental sources are derived from shellfish. Taken in supplement form, glucosamine may help improve the maintenance of healthy cartilage with an enhanced deposition of glycosaminoglycan.
• Chondroitin. Chondroitin protects the cartilage and attracts fluids that give the tissue its shock absorbing quality.
• Evening primrose oil. A source of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) which may help maintain healthy joints by modifying inflammation.
• Herbs and spices. Ginger, holy basil, turmeric, green tea, rosemary, scutlellaria and huzhang all have naturally occurring anti-inflammatory compounds known as COX-2 inhibitors.
• Omega-3 fatty acids. Containing primarily EPA and DHA, which have been shown in studies to help maintain bone health and flexibility.
Overview and traditional information on arthritis.
Arthritis is a disease characterized by the inflammation of the cartilage and lining of the body’s joints. Inflammation causes redness, warmth, pain and swelling. There are about 40 million Americans who suffer from arthritis. The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, estimates that by the year 2020, about 60 million Americans will have arthritis. The primary targets for arthritis are people over the age of 50. Arthritis is a major cause of foot pain because each foot has 33 joints that can become affected by the disease.
Drumming & Drum Circle Workshops for the Care of Arthritis (my company’s services)
Using the body’s sensory & proprioceptive system, I guide participants in drumming, or drum circles, for physical movement and coordination. This helps in persons with arthritis, movement disorders, brain injury, and to offset the effects of aging. The instruments are used to cue or initiative movement. Your body does the rest. These methods require less brain voluntary thought and cognition, and more your own movement and rhythmic memory.
As we age, or after onset of arthritis or movement disorders, precise voluntary control of actions like walking often becomes compromised. Drumming can be done in one’s home and also in group settings. Participants are taught to initiate action on cue of a rhythm. I usually begin with simple recognizable rhythms participants can easily play, and give movement cues on either the upbeat or downbeat. Cues can also be carried out by tapping of the hands, fingers, feet, and other body parts, which can also be applied to body turns, steps, and bending to pick things up. This is helpful in arthritis, multiple sclerosis (MS), post stroke, and most movement disorders.
I teach rhythmic patterns to help with stepping and turning you would normally do in the home and in everyday activities, and utilize tapping on the thighs and hips to correspond with turning, stepping, and bending to pick things up. This method engages the less voluntary actions of the cerebellum to cue the legs and feet with less of a physical challenge. Individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS), post TBI, or stroke who have a lot of difficulty standing and initiating walking, can use this rhythm and cue method to better their mobility. Those with autism require more hands-on instruction and specific rhythms.
Drum and rhythm training helps individuals better use their body as an extension of their brain’s cognitive function. By relieving some of the load on the brain, you effectively become smarter. My drumming methods also teach participants to conceptualize rhythm & movement, and carry out progressions with the body. This is critical in sports play and movement. It awakens the “primal brain.” Along with the body’s sense of time and space, our brains track precise rhythmic patterns and communicate these signals to our limbs to walk, talk, and perform specific actions. You move with significantly less dependence on voluntary thought after undergoing my rhythmic training. You’ve heard stories of people who stuttered, yet could sing beautifully. Or could dance, but could barely walk. The secret is in body’s ability to connect with rhythm.
A myriad of physical therapy and balance training methods are used to help with movement, strengthen the body, and strengthen the brain’s role in movement. Below, I’ve authored an extensive blog on the science and mindfulness of basketball.
In basketball, athletes work tirelessly on hand, eye, and footwork syncopation to pass & shoot with pin-point accuracy. Rhythmic training helps participants of all levels. See what it can do for you!
Top 10 Exercises for women with rheumatoid arthritis
Exercise is important for women with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) because the right exercises can help relieve joint pain and build muscle strength. There are three main groups of exercises women with RA should incorporate into their regular fitness routine: stretching, strength training and cardio. Here are 10 exercises that every woman with RA should be doing on a regular basis. Read more on their site below.
Signature Massage: Provides blood and oxygen circulation to the joints improving inflammation, using essential oils to penetrate the dermal layers to relieve stiffness and pain.
Thai Massage: Providing the same benefits as a Signature Massage by using modalities of stretch and acupuncture points.
Thai Herbal Bag Massage: Using heat, oil and medicinal herbs to penetrate deep into the joints to reduce inflammation.
Reflexology Massage: The ancient Chinese practice of reflexology is a therapy focusing on the feet, and is a popular modern holistic therapy to relieve pain and stress. Reflexology massage therapists believe that different areas on your feet and hands correspond to other parts of your body, and massaging them stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system to heal itself.
Hot Stone Massage: Heated stones are the vehicle to allow the penetration of oils and heat into the entire body.
Hand & Foot Paraffin Treatment: We use paraffin oils and heated mitts for the hands and/or feet to reduce inflammation and stiffness.
Exercising in warm water has many benefits. The warm temperature (92°) of our therapy pool increases blood flow to muscles, which helps the muscles relax. As your muscles relax, you will be able to exercise more comfortably. The buoyancy (what causes you to float) helps support the arms as you slowly move them through the water in an almost effortless fashion. Buoyancy also greatly decreases the amount of body weight placed on the back, hips, knees and feet. When you stand in waist-deep water, only 50% of your body weight is put on the lower part of your body; in neck-deep water, only 10%. Walking and leg exercises may be done with little or no weight on the painful joints of your lower body.
Aqua Flex -A warm water class designed to improve joint range-of-motion, flexibility and balance. Stretching with gentle movement, proper joint and muscle group alignment and overall well-being will be the focus.
Aqua Arthritis-Following the guidelines of the Arthritis Foundation of America, Aqua Arthritis instruction emphasizes exercising at your own pace. This warm water class is designed to allow for range-of-motion, endurance and flexibility exercises. All classes take place in the warm water therapy pool.
Tai Chi-Gentle movements of the ancient Chinese exercise tai chi are one of many alternatives to help those with arthritis find pain relief. The movements of tai chi are gentle, graceful, mystical — and a safe way to relieve arthritis pain and gain balance, strength, and flexibility. Tai chi is one of many alternative therapies that can provide relief from arthritis pain.
The NCH Wellness Center offers exercise programs designed for those with arthritis, and include:
Personal Training-Wellness Center Personal Trainers give arthritic clients new hope by developing exercise programs that are designed to improve strength, function, joint symptoms and mood! Research has demonstrated that both exercise and resistance training are highly beneficial for those with arthritis.
Nutritional Education-Researchers continue to look at the role diet plays in arthritis. While evidence is accumulating, anyone with arthritis can benefit from a diet that provides adequate nutrients to prevent deficiencies. Our Registered Dietitian (RD) offers nutritional education to help you manage your arthritis symptoms.
Stem cell injections for osteoarthritis
Bone defects are one of the most serious problems patients and doctors are facing and leading stimulus for new research centering on the need for new tissue regeneration therapies. Studies on mesenchymal stem cells are changing the way we treat bone diseases. Stem cells have been used for the treatment of osteogenesis imperfecta, hypophosphatasia, osteonecrosis of the femoral head, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
The power of FREE WILL is a brain science supported mechanism to enable change within ourselves, and to further change proposed by others. Change can occur in small or even very large groups in almost an instant. Change occurs by movement, sharing, and adoption of collective thought. In neuroscience terminology, it begins via a process in the brain termed “brain wave entrainment,” and messages are received and assimiliated from others.
The brain wave entrainment can come from a friend, a stranger, a parent, a teacher, or even an individual during a violant assault. The change is best adopted and sustainable when done via “free will.” But it doesn’t necessarily have to be. There are many people undergoing psychotherapy treatment today for actions and emotions “forced” them months and years earlier, to which they seem to have no free will to change. This typically is a rebound response to a traumatic event that the individual was forced to entrain with, and have become confused as to how & why they entrained with the messenger.
Since the beginning of time, persons in positions of authority have acted to control others, using a variety of teaching and team-building methods that have been passed on in families, among populations, and among professions, including, churches. Entrainment is both a genetic, and a conditioned mechanism. We generally control it by whom we associate with. And as modern life and personal protections have evolved, we’ve generally had more rewarding experiences with this, and increasing quality of life. At it’s best, change is most effective if done freely and under conditions of “free will.” And free will must be permitted culturally in terms of accepted social and religious traditions, and in accordance with governing laws and regulations.
I believe religious traditions in particular carry tremendous weight in granting permission to participate in certain types of activities. And when these barriers are removed, one can truly exercise FREE WILL to receive and assimilate information from others via brain wave entrainment, and ultimately, to CHANGE and grow from this experience. In a nutshell, we learn by engaging and assimilating outside information.
I have been putting on group drum circles, or “drumming,” since about 2006. Free form assimilation of drum circle play in an “impromptu” setting occurs through improvisation, listening, assimilating, and playing of the instruments. The neuroscience mechanism by which this occurs is termed “brain wave entrainment.” Studies have shown that in a free form or impromptu drum circle, participant’s brain waves will begin to act alike in as little as 8-10 minutes. If it is a prearranged and rehearsed piece, it could potentially occur sooner. This occurs in group activities like sports too, where entrainment is furthered through “coordinated movements,” particularly ones with a set pattern and timing. The fascinating aspect of brain science and learning, is that we are designed to process information in patterns, especially, reproducible “rhythmic” patterns, as human brain waves move across the brain in patterns. The more order and pattern our information is, the easier the assimilation and ultimately, learning.
However, brain wave entrainment occurs in everyday life far more than you might realize. In order to process information around us into our five senses, we must assimilate the information into recognizable brain wave patterns, or create new ones so we may understand and store it. We entrain while reading a book or working on a project. We entrain in conversations with others, particularly persons we love and trust. Familiarity greatly improves entrainment because we would already have permission to entrain, and this permission makes it more likely that the assimilation will be done under free will. If we believe and accept what the individual is sharing, entrainment occurs much more readily.
The inspiration for writing this blog originally came while writing a blog on how group drum circles can be helpful in reforming the behavior of gang members. After I finished it, I had dwelled and apparently, “prayed” on trying to understand the brain mechanism that binds gang members together. And then it occurred to me how easily we can be “tricked” or coerced into doing things that we might otherwise not normally do. And then it was a revellation of sorts where I understood the mechanism, and first wrote this blog. In my initial publishing, featured the design of the human brain as done by our creator, or God. And then I applied this to present day where social media is now used in brain wave entrainment. It is a matter of debate or conjecture whether it was a creator, or God, or evolution that helped up develop brain wave entrainment so that we could communicate, work as a group, and be more fit to survive. Since this idea initially came to me like a revelation, I kept that theme in much of this piece.
In my revelation, there was no sensation of religion or religious practice. It was more about seeing what is possible thru group thought and behavior. I applied analysis from what I know of science, physics, and human behavior and work in the neurosciences, especially, my work with drum circles. I felt coming together in collective thought under conditions of FREE WILL was the most determinnig factor for change and learning.
I reasoned how we are free to love, to hate, or empathetic, and a gamut of many other thoughts and feelings. But I felt our most powerful learning environment is when we come together for mutually agreeable reason. Our defenses are down. We’ve offered our attentiveness. And now all this is remaining is sharing the information, and assimilating it into action. In free will, results can also be tragic too. People are often misled into agreeing to activities and relationships that end up very badly. It is often difficult to know this will be the outcome as it is occuring, freely entrained with another individual or group of individuals. This has occured in religious sects and churches too. Ultimately, it is free will and our choices that define our connections in life, and possible connections with a higher power.
What I find truly fascinating is the study of human behavior and human potential when given free will to ACT without constraint, without consequence, and without coersion, in which path each would choose. There IS irrefutably a connectedness force on earth amongst us that when we assemble in large numbers, we can greatly influence one another. With all of our advances in technology and now social networking, this effect can occur without a group of people physically being together. The power for change is in our collective thought, and today is now possible thru the power of social media. For good or worse, change still comes down to our ability to have free will.
Let’s switch reasoning for a moment and speak about about how this cause & affect and free will applies to LOVE. When we freely act to express love w/o any expectation of something in return, other than the feeling of that moment, we are acting selflessly out of love. I believe this also applies to the power of faith, when you believe in something unknown without any expectation of getting something in return. Perhaps just feeling the connection is all we are seeking. But I believe there’s more.
There has to be a reward for expressing ourselves freely, through a mutual action to unite and collectively change each, to change others, and affect change around us thru a collective thought and “knowing.” In a lifetime, if this happens to you once, or even twice, you are lucky. It is that powerful. Some say it is connecting to the Holy Spirit. Others say it is extraordinary brain activity now termed trance states. But since the beginning of time, this thrill has been perhaps the most elucive experience in life. And has led many a person to do things they later regret.
I recently felt that this collective power of thought and free will to experience life is the communion that God wants for us in life, to “complete” him (or her). I believe this is why we are here, to learn to complete this en route to a greater mission. This free will of human behavior is what sets us apart from every other bit of life here on earth. We are the only ones with free will, the wherewithall to assemble knowledge, and the ability to freely act upon it. It is truly powerful when we come together and collectively choose the same thought or action, which can be for good or evil. Evil is powerful too as it can trick us into entrainment and collective thought. But evil relies on deception, or a “false connection.” Still, evil finds power over victims via human connectedness.
Brain wave entrainment happens with plants & animals too. Plants have been shown to respond to human words, thoughts, and touch. Human & animal brains are equally capable of entrainment and influence thru group behavior. In group behavior, we mirror other’s thoughts & actions, sometimes unaware what we are doing. Entrainment is exciting. Entrainment becomes addictive! People and animals can get caught up in group brain wave entrainment, and do things they ordinarily wouldn’t do. This is termed “group hypnosis.” Most of the time it’s a good thing. But sometimes it isn’t. The difference between good and bad behavior is similar to a drug getting you high versus your natural endorphins. One is organic, while the other is cause & affect.
I have had many great experiences during my drum circles where drummers freely come together & play, not knowing what we’ll play. We trust the process, and the music and spontaneonity just happens. This also widely occurs at sporting events, parties, war, rioting, prayer, and even mourning. The real power in free will is coming together in communal agreement to change or create ideas and product. When done this way, what’s produced is often self-sustaining. But evil & trickery has benefits too, in controlling others. But it uses a false premise and connection, and it will collapse on itself when put under stress, i.e. why criminals often turn on each other.
FREE WILL is the most powerful force known to man. But are yet to put it to the test! We’ve only been in communal world thought now for the last 50-75 years. With advances in social media, we will be able to harness communal thought for great social change. I hope that it is for the good. Let’s hope that it is done freely, as that is God’s will for us.
If you are interested in contacting me, please contact me via the information below.
With all the needless suffering, corruption, and gang activity today, I am reminded of the psychology of human group behavior, and the mechanisms of corruption and institutional control that is so pervasive today. They are similar mechanisms to group drumming and team building, except they are 180 degree polar opposites. In drumming, the energy and intent of the participants is based on a positive mindset of giving, and free will. No one is intimidated to follow the group. In fact, it boost your self esteem and resolve.
In drumming, the group message, or rhythm, often begins with the core leaders, but not always. It’s a dynamic process that welcomes all to initiate, then it spreads throughout the circle, expanding as far as its magic and influence allows.
In circles of corruption, the spread of influence is similar, except that the core leaders ALWAYS set the agenda and rules. And it is sometimes done in a quid pro quo format of favors in return for others cooperation. The agenda and message spreads based on intimidation and calling out favors from participants, opposite to drumming. And in doing so, the group makes unlawful compromises of their free will. It provides an air of momentary brotherhood, for as long as everyone stays signed on, and one step ahead of authorities. It requires that everyone compromise their morals and ethics in order to participate. There can be outer circles too, where participants support the group project, but may not be directly involved.
The behavioral and brain mechanisms at work are usually done FREELY, and also are remarkably similar to we find in a group drum circle. However, the image of corruption and gangs is that they have FREE WILL. When in fact, they don’t.
In life, we are drawn to people and things that serve our needs and which we find interesting. The concept of being drawn to things is rooted in brain science and human behavior. We make decisions about which groups and activities we join. In a drum circle, participants freely come together and support a “core” rhythm and message. In corruption and gang activity, participants gather together for protection. Different choices. At numerous points along the way, participants have the opportunity to affect and influence the group activity or rhythm. The same also holds true for sports play like football, baseball, and basketball. But in corruption and gang activities, a misconception lies in the belief that participants do not have FREE WILL, which is not true. The truth is that FREE WILL comes from your mind out of the bigger understanding of life. And it is also contagious! Yes, there are pressures & influences to act a certain way. But if you are at peace with yourself, and confident of your choices, others will follow you.
The dynamics of group behavior & free will is that it is based on your mindset and moral framework of life. So, when faced with tough choices, you should know automatically what you’ll do, what you’ll play, and what you’ll say. The problem today is that too many people confuse “speaking up” with expressing yourself. You have to speaker with wisdom and authority, connect with your higher power. These practice actually take many years and trial & error. But you have to brave this course to discover your true voice!
Now I’ve seen many a drummer in a drum circle use free will to beat a drum so loudly and out of sync, it destroys the group rhythm. They expressed themselves. But did they “listen?” When unsure, ask, look around, watch others, then act. And never forget the most powerful voice you have is your FREE WILL.
Your actions actually originate from thoughts, or “thought intent,” first. In gymnastics, we used to say the trick happens in your mind before you ever do it. This same principle of thought intent is true for everything you do everyday of your life. You think, then act. Success comes when you learn to think, listen to the right inner voice. And then act on it. The more you apply this methodology, especially the listening part. The more success you’ll have.
In my drumming and drum circle facilitation, as Jack Black did in the movie, “School of Rock,” always watch your student’s eyes. This is the window to their soul, and watching the eyes will tell you if and how you’re connecting. The same holds true during the formative stages of corruption. But, if you are at peace with yourself, you will stand you’re ground and act bravely to protect yourself.
I’d like to share a message I often shared with my son when he was in high school during the 1990s, as for drinking and driving after there had been several horrible auto accidents with teen age drivers:
“Never get in an automobile if you’re not comfortable with the driver. If things go bad, all it takes is one member of a group to speak up in the right way and bring clarity at a time when the group is stirred into a wild & crazy hysteria. It only takes one to change the energy, the rhythm, or one’s awareness within a group. When that time comes, trust your instincts. Don’t be afraid to speak up.”
My son was later voted most changed in high school and accepted a baseball scholarship to Pepperdine University. I often spoke to him on lessons in life thru psychology. In high school, I’m told he regularly received calls from friends facing difficult. I suspect he shared some of the intervention methods that I had shared with him.
Never stop being of sound mind. Always pay attention. Be aware. Call upon your higher self. Such principles are at the core of shamanism and most mind/body & religious practices today.
Having spent 17 years in nuclear medicine in various medical settings, including, in some of the earliest testing for AIDS, I see remarkable similarities in what medical personnel face in Ebola care, and what drummers must contend with in the group play of a drum circle.
To outsiders, a drum circle may appear more like a bunch of wanna be hippies banging on drums & such around a make shift venue. But to seasoned percussionists and drum circle facilitators such as myself, I view it as much much more. In fact, the group dynamics and adapting to changing conditions in an Ebola care setting, is what makes group play in a drum circle so special.
In group drumming, the team concept in play is of the utmost importance. Each drummer or participant learns to trust in their fellow drummers to play their part that leads to the entire group sound & effectiveness. Each drummer, just as in medical personnel in Ebola care, bring their own expertise to the group setting. But, it is the interpersonal dynamics, communication, and discipline in the art that gives both the drum circle and Ebola care setting its exceptional qualities. Both also rely on a high degree of improvisation to adapt to rapidly changing variables. Communications in these setting are of the utmost importance. Each setting calls for heightened intuitive and interpersonal skills. And it is in these regards that Ebola care and group drumming have so much in common.
Group drumming owes much of its early development to the practice of “shamanism,” and similar mind-body healing arts which have been reported under anthropology. These modalities also form some of the earliest practices in modern medicine. And so it is today, that we find these practices continuing to intertwine as we contend with the complex dynamics in the Ebola care setting, and in trusting oneself and others around you. And in many cases, the biggest obstacle is in interpersonal dynamics.
I’ve been in hundreds of different drum circle and medical settings, and I can share that more than any other factor what leads to success, is the willingness of participants to set aside egos, trust in their fellow team members, and work for the good of the whole. Without this trust and willingness to stay in the “now”, mis-steps will most definately occur, and can dramatically effect the group outcome.
In my nuclear medicine work, I routinely worked with radioactive materials and infectious diseases, where protocol was critical, but you adapted to ever-changing conditions. As a result, I was inter-dependent upon my co-workers to make the appropriate decisions at key times in support of my efforts. And this is exactly what happens in a drum circle. The drummer participants are continually listening to and observing the moves of their fellow participants, and adjusting their play to what they see and hear from others in the group. The better you listen, the better the group play. There are over 150 different pieces of world percussion that are played in drum circles. And each participant will have varying exerience with these instruments, much as different medical personnel have in an Ebola care setting.
Because of the group dynamics in group drumming or drum circles, drumming workshops can be well adapted to a wide array of settings, including, team sports like football & basketball, military & police training, high risk operations like oil drilling, and many different business and technical settings.
In 2013, I obtained the HydroPowered.orgdomain and created a basic web site for sharing of fun, art, and culture on a technology platform for individuals and families affected by hydrocephalus. The image at top was created from one of my MRI brain scans, with editing from the Pic Say Pro app. I then added a tribute to Godfrey Houndsfield for his engineering vision, and EMI Labs(a division of EMI Records), for funding his project that led to the invention of the CT scanner– arguably the greatest medical invention we have to date.
I do all of this on a shoe-string budget. Still, I feel I could offer those affected by hydrocephalus a new and fun way to connect on art and fun topics.
I acquired the HydroPowered.orgweb site by researching domains that were available with the word “hydro,” short for hydrocephalus, which means water on the brain.
I created the above “blue swirl” image as my first logo from one of my MRI brain scans using the Pic Say Pro mobile app. Then, on my web site and Facebook group, I added additional art with the water or “hydro” theme, including, the Schick Hydro razor. The links below go to my web site and Facebook pages of “hydro” art.
I am hoping to create fun and cool art for hydrocephalus, separate from the disabiling realities of the condition. This came together one evening in May 2013, though my original idea started back at a hydrocephalus conference in the year 2000. Since 2013, I’ve added HydroPowered art and super-hero stories, and am looking to add more stories and characters.
I want to expand on the “super-hero” theme. I’ve written a few tie-in super hero stories on HydroPowered.org. I actually envision a series of HydroPowered super hero characters. I’ve also created a Facebook Fan Page so other “hydros” (that’s a term we often call each other) can post/share their art and stories.
I continue to brain storm ideas to get this out to the masses without having to spend a lot of money or time. I have made custom T-shirts and polo shirts at Vistaprint online. I’d even be willing to try a “daring PR stunt” if that would bring awareness to this cause.
On Thursday Sept. 24, 2015, I along with HydroPowered.org will feature two drumming workshops for hydrocephalus to address balance, cognition, and movement at the NHF Patient Power conference at the Sheraton Park Hotel in Anaheim, CA. SEE registration info in the flyer. The workshops are free. But there’s a $50 conference fee.
In addition, I am trying to put together a “Drum-off for Hydrocephalus” to help raise awareness and funding for hydrocephalus.
In July 2015, I put together a photo collage with my NFL lookalike, JJ Watt, of the Houston Texans. Check out the similarities below of JJ to my photos at his age.
I am hoping this look-alike photo collage might create some social network interest in this cause. It was two years ago that I realized JJ & I look alike like. And he seems a lot like me too, with both of us growing up in the Mid-West. So, for Throwback Thursday, I put together this photo collage, and put it on several of the social platforms, hoping to bring attention to hydrocephalus and my efforts with HydroPowered.
Since 1985, I’ve provided quite a bit of outreach & CSR to Orange County area organizations. During the 1980s, my outreach and fundraising efforts were in little baseball, AYSO soccer, the Costa Mesa Chamber of Commerce, Hoag Memorial Hospital, community theatre, and arts in Costa Mesa and Laguna Beach. But since the late 1990s, my focus has shifted to hydrocephalus, and a variety of community causes I’ve undertaken with drumming, or drum circles. I also headed up the drumming Meetup, Orange County Drum Circle.
Since 1995, I’ve been a patient advocate for hydrocephalus, and have been answering patient, medical, CNS shunt, and FDA guidan questions on hydrocephalus. In 2009, I began offering consults in monitoring, since my DiaCeph Test for monitoring never became available. For several years, I was also a board member for the National Hydrocephalus Foundation, and helped with PR and fundraising.
In drum circle facilitation, I own enough instruments to put on drum circles for groups as large as 100 people. And I have facilitated groups as large as 250 drummers. I’ve been organizing and facilitating these drum circles over the last 7-8 years in spite of my own health challenges with hydrocephalus and CNS shunt brain surgeries from a 1992 auto accident, which now total 12 surgeries. But, it hasn’t stopped me from giving back, from being involved in CSR and being a pivitol part of Orange County area outreach. Come Sept. 2015, I’ll be putting on two drum circles at the National Hydrocephalus Foundation conference in Anaheim, CA.
Back in the 1980s for several years, I served as an independent consultant and helped in sponsorship of a number of area sporting and community events, including, the 1992 Great American Race. 1998 was my first big fundraising endeavor after my injury, where I headed up field sponsorship for the Foothill High School baseball program. Still today, I feel I understand cause marketing, though I always appreciate others’ feedback. If I had not gotten in an auto accident in 1992 and developed hydrocephalus, my plan was to leave health care completely and transition into sports & entertainment agent services.
There comes a time when even the best of us become recipients of outreach. Since 2012, I’ve been overwhelmed by complications with my hydrocephalus. In March 2015, this led me to I put my own case study and complications up on my blog, knowing all too well I could face scrutiny for it. I felt like I had no choice. I was between a rock and a hard spot, struggling with my health, and struggling to work and take care of myself. You can find it under March 2015 topics.
I’d like HydroPowered.org to be a different take on hydrocephalus outreach, more about fun, cool, a mix of art, technology, and culture – with a super-hero theme too. I felt the platform might be helpful in fundraisers too much as the 2014 Summer ALS ICE Bucket Challenge that became a mainstream hit.
Since 2013, I have been brain storming and scouring the web for HydroPowered art and photos. It now includes hydropowered racing boats, monster waves, hydropowered damns, the Schick Hydro razor, and basketball. I’m an avid shooter and have even written a special blog on my insights into basketball.
The plight of hydrocephalus, the stories, the data, and outcomes remain troubling today. It is the leading neurosurgical procedure in children, and affects individuals from in utero to very late in life. CNS shunts, which first came into use as its primary means of treatment in the 1950s, are still standard treatment today. Outcomes are often followed by disability, many numerous shunt malfunctions, and corrective surgeries. The average life of a shunt today is still about 5 years. Several leading programmable shunts in recent years have also been plagued with bizarre programming failures that added to the chaos. In fact, my own shunt implanted less than two years ago, has already been recalled. So hydrocephalus really needs a make-over!
As for famous individuals with hydrocephalus, the Reverand Billy Graham lived with NPH, a form of hydrocephalus, and a shunt for the last 8-10 years of his life. Rock & Roll guitarist, Dick Wagner of Alice Cooper, who passed away this past July, lived with hydrocephalus for several years. And former San Francisco 49ers player, George Visger, developed hydrocephalus after a series of concussions from football.
As a neuroscientist who provides hydrocephalus monitoring and consults to families in this space, I am adament that CNS shunt technology, and all of its FDA regulations, are in need of an overhaul. We need to change the dynamics and philosophy of the medical field in hydrocephalus care, from “can’t do” to “yes, we will do!” Today, hydrocephalus care & CNS shunt technology remains dominated by a handful of old guard philosophy medical companies and physicians who have resisted the kind of progress we need for many years. Today we need more free-thinkers, more doers! More of an Apple or Google mindset. The same place, same thing, is not producing the kind of advances we need.
I also realize hydrocephalus research is in need of funding, and I believe the HydroPowered platform can play a pivitol role in this going forward. I can compare our plight a bit similar to that of spinal cord injury (SPI) at thetime actor Christopher Reeves became paralyzed. In his case, he almost single-handedly changed the dynamics & funding of SCI. In his brilliant campaign, he initially “called out” the old guard of SCI work that was holding back progress, and then went on to raise money & create progress in SCI treatment that’s not really been seen in any other disorder outside of AIDs.
For several years back in the 1990s, Christopher Reeves had been one of the highest paid speakers in the world, with both political parties vying for him to appear at their conventions. Those were “wow” moments in PR and cause marketing! Today, football players living with SCI, owe vastly improved outcomes to the dynamic efforts of Christopher Reeves.
Below, is my HydroPowered web site & Facebook links. Take a moment to read over it.
OK. This Thursday Sept. 24, 2015 I will feature two drumming workshops for hydrocephalus to address balance, cognition, and movement at the NHF Patient Power conference at the Sheraton Park Hotel in Anaheim, CA. SEE registration info in the flyer. The workshops are free. But there’s a $50 conference fee.
Notre Dame Drumline Friday Afternoon Drummers Circle
I am offering to organize a “DRUM OFF FOR HYDROCEPHALUS” and have it VIDEOTAPED and posted on YouTube. Then, I’d be looking for others around the world affected by hydrocephalus, or interested in helping the cause, to organize their own drum circle with instruments of their culture and region, and post a video of their DRUM-OFF on YouTube – so we may have an international conversation on hydrocephalus. I’ve enclosed the video of the Notre Dame drum off for breast cancer as an example.
I had hoped to do this at the 2015 NHF Conference on Sept. 24th or 25th in Anaheim, CA. But I’m informed the schedule cannot fit it in. We have hydrocephalus groups around the world, and in remote places like Nigeria. I’d love to involve our global “hydro brothers & sisters” in a global “drum off for hydrocephalus.” I envision it as a bit like “Playing for Change” too. And if someone wanted to edit some of the drum segments and create one master song, I’d be very excited for that.
Along with the Drum-off for Hydrocephalus, I’d like to also feature the web site HydroPowered.org – which I created two years ago to further hydrocephalus awareness, and to allow those affected by hydrocephalus to come together to share art, technology, super hero stories, and fun stuff separate from their medical stories.
I have personally been living with the disorder hydrocephalus since 1992, and I would be participating in this as organizer, drummer, facilitator, and affected patient. As a patient advocate, I’ve been involved in advocacy, public policy, and the development of mHealth technology hydrocephalus. Still today it remains complicated by a lack of medical research and innovation in new treatments, CNS shunt and diagnostic technology, and awareness.
So I need an alternative 2015 venue to hold the Drum-off for Hydrocephalus if I want it done this year. I have enough instruments for 75-100 people, though we ideally only need 30-50 playing. And I will invite 10 or so experienced drummers to help in supporting the drumming. I need to have someone be responsible for videotaping the performance, and perhaps some interviews. I and others I know have video cameras, or even a phone camera might do. But editing the video takes some skill. I can only do basic editing for posting on YouTube. I will also need to have a banner made (VistaPrint) saying “Hydrocephalus Drum-Off, Orange County, CA.” And this can be displayed with the video on YouTube. Once I have a date and location selected, I can post updates here and on http://www.HydroPowered.org site and Facebook group.
I will still be offering two drumming workshops at the National Hydrocephalus Foundation PATIENT POWER conference on Sept. 24th 2015. This would allow individuals and families affected by hydrocephalus to come together and experience the POWER of the drum, and the POWER of connectedness for hydrocephalus.
Below, is a video from a drum circle I put on in 2012 for Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease, and it was part of the 2012 Young Onset Parkinson’s Conference in Orange County, CA.
OC Conference 2012 030.MOV
Hydrocephalus effects about 1 in 1000 infants & young children, and occurs in seniors as the disorder NPH (normal pressure hydrocephalus), and it also occurs to others following head trauma, hemorage, tumor, cyst, and often occurs secondary to spina bifida, Dandy-Walker, Arnold-Chiari, and meningitis. In children, it is the most commonly performed neurosurgical procedure. It poses numerous diagnostic challenges to physicians, families, and those living with it. Hydrocephalus is treated the same around the world, mostly by implanting a CNS shunt. So, a mHealth mobile or software app would help individuals in the U.S. as well as developing countries like Africa & S. America.
In developing countries, hydrocephalus is even more tragic and fatal. Doctors without borders and other organizations, often travel to developing countries to perform initial surgeries. But since shunt failure is a common occurance, follow up diagnostics and availability to corrective surgery presents additional challenges. The availability of a mobile software app to collect and document developing patient status information would help save lives and minimize shunt complications. A diagnostic mobile app could offer early critical diagnostic information on device function and patient status.
The purpose of the “Hydrocephalus Drum-Off” is to raise awareness of hydrocephalus, and to help with fundraising and funding of hydrocephalus research in the U.S. and worldwide.