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
This blog discusses how to use “barometric pressure” forecasting in the eWeather HD app by Elecont and from weather web site barometric pressure data to manage barometric pressure triggers in migraine headache, other headache, arthritis, and some autoimmune disorders. This blog also provides considerable self-help health information and tips for managing migraines and headaches, plus a brief review of the Migraine Buddy and Headache Diary Pro apps.
The eWeather HD app was originally developed & introduced as an Android app by Elecont Software, and then as an IOS app. As IOS came later, it sometimes does not have the full features available to Android versions.
Over the last several years, Elecont has adopted some of my recommendations, which has allowed the eWeather HD app to function as an mHealth tool in managing pressure aggravated disorders, at least on Android devices. However, “notifications & alerts” on iOS devices are still not available as I discuss in this latest update. Since May 10, 2016, I offer FREE eWeather HD Google Promo codes for Android users who email me. It is a $4.95 value. iOS versions are less, at about $2.95 on the Apple Store.
April 27, 2017 Update includes:
In my April 21st update, I wrote that I thought on-screen or Task-bar Notifications were likely possible on iOS devices, not having seen the app run on an iOS device (of which I don’t own). Then on Tuesday of this week, I attended an iOS developer event to deliver a demo on the eWeather HD app. There I was able to explore the app as it appears on iOS devices, and learned why it does NOT get Alerts or On-screen Notifications. It has to do with Apple’s “Apple Push Notification” service, or APNs, for network notifications on iOS devices. My apologies for not understanding this issue sooner. I will be speaking to the developer Elecont as to fixes for this issue. I explain in more detail how the iOS version of the app is used in my section below oneWeather HD for iOS Devices.
April 21, 2017 update includes:
1. eWeather HD Barometric Pressure screenshots showing the “Notifications” I use on my Android GS3 phone in managing my headaches. NOTE: I do not use the audible alert option. From my experience, audible alerts might only be necessary in users with visual impairment who are unable to view home page Notifications. As I do not own an IOS device, I am uncertain of the specific screen Notifications available on IOS versions. However, I will encourage the developer to make my recommendations here as standard options available on all their versions.
2. Discussion of Barometric Pressure Notifications currently available for IOS versions of the eWeather HD app. SEE my discussion in the IOS section.
Jan. 11, 2017 update included:
1. How to select notifications & alerts for changes in barometric pressure related to migraine headache, with screenshots, and
2. My personal preferences for barometric pressure indicators on my eWeather app
Oct. 19, 2016 update included:
1. Screenshots and new instructions on installing the app from Google Promo codes.
2. Discussion and review of several top migraine apps.
3. Discussion and links from new Excedrin migraine and weather information.
4. Updated information on the role that sound/noise and sensory processing disorder (SPD) plays in migraine headache.
Weather changes with a sharp drop in barometric pressure can often trigger a migraine headache in pressure sensitive individuals with a history of neurological disorders such as hydrocephalus, post tumor, Parkinson’s Disease, PTSD, sensory processing disorder or SPD, and person’s with a history of anxiety attacks and migraine. The sharp drop in barometric pressure during weather change often acts as a trigger of migraine. Weather apps and web sites can provide advanced warnings of changes in barometric pressure, so affected individuals can adjust their activities and medications. I’ve found the eWeather HD app to be the most convenient as it forecasts barometric pressure both 24 hours ahead, and the past 24 hours, in a easy to read graphic format. The app highlights steep rising and falling of barometric pressure, and can alert you via its icon on the taskbar of your phone.
I am a migraine sufferer today as a result of 24 years and 12 CNS shunt surgeries for hydrocephalus. In this blog, I discuss a real migraine headache event, and how I used the eWeather HD to help me better through it. Had it not been for the Elecont eWeather app, I likely would have been down for the entire afternoon. And as of May 2016, I give away Google Promo codes from the eWeather HD app developer for a FREE app download for Android devices, a $4.95 value. To obtain a Google Promo code, email me your request to the address at bottom.
My name is Stephen Dolle and I am a neuroscientist and author of this blog. I write and consult on mHealth, brain health, and the disorder hydrocephalus. I also live with hydrocephalus, and regularly suffer migraines, and have been an eWeather HD app user since 2012.
My mHealth app experience spans a 1997 design of an application for hydrocephalus (DiaCeph Test) to run on a PDA, which unfortunately I was not able to get funding for. However, I continue to provide a number of FREE monitoring forms and instructions so individuals and families can do their own monitoring. Since 2009, I’ve been providing Hydrocephalus Monitoring & Consults to patients affected by hydrocephalus (link to blog & services is below). I am also a CNS shunt device scientist. I can also provide consults to mobile app developers and others wishing to develop mHealth apps. My DiaCeph Test today could be made into a mobile data app with sufficient funding and/or partners.
Since 2012, I’ve also been applying my mHealth expertise to migraine care and weather monitoring of migraine headaches using both weather apps and web sites. I have also evaluated mobile apps for pain management monitoring. Since 2014, I found the eWeather HD app the best mobile app tool for monitoring barometric pressure weather triggers, and in 2016 I reached out to the developer for free downloads to give away to my blog followers. Migraine headaches are also very common in hydrocephalus, which I have been living with since 1992. So these eWeather HD efforts also benefit my own health.
I also put on drum circles in Orange County, California, as a therapy for medical conditions, and for events, icebreakers, and organizations interested in team-building (like drumming in the workplace pictured above). Medical conditions and organizations I’ve helped include: National Hydrocephalus Foundation, National Parkinson’s Foundation, cerebral palsy/autism, drug & alcohol addiction, Alzheimer’s disease, movement disorders, sensory processing disorder (SPD), schizophrenia, weight loss, and general health & wellness. I also write blogs on drumming and movement topics, including, drumming for basketball and football. Drumming can improve one’s intolerance to sound and stress, which are common triggers of migraine headache, and stress also plays a key role in sensitivity to noise in sensory processing disorder (SPD). Drumming, exercises, and yoga also help offset cerebral hypotension, the mechanism most often responsible for migraine headache. My blogs below detail how drumming aids wellness, stress reduction, and migraine disorders.
How to Use the eWeather HD App for Management of Migraine & Headache
The Elecont eWeather HD app is an excellent mHealth tool & mobile app for managing migraine headache. I have been using the app since about 2012, while also using several online weather sites. As Elecont made updates to its app, by 2014 it became my weather site/app of choice.
The app provides up to 24-hour advance display of changes in barometric pressure, which you can use to help manage your migraines and headaches. Knowing this weather data in advance, can allow you to make key changes in your schedule, medication, exercise, and hydration to possibly head off a migraine attack. Moderating exercise, hydration, and medication other tips is discussed further in this blog.
This section’s screenshots are from the app on my Android device. There are some differences with the iOS version, specifically, with Alerts & Notifications not yet being available. In my UPDATES at top, and here in my discussion sections, I detail how you can use the app on both Android & iOS platforms.
For Android devices, you have (3) ALERT options for how you get notified of changes in barometric pressure. Below are the Android screenshots for setting up ALERTS in the eWeather HD program. (For Apple/iTunes devices, you can view changes in pressure via the red-alerted barometric pressure graph in the app, and via display of the pressure graph icon on your phone’s taskbar & widget if set up).
VIEW GRAPHS: View the graphs by clicking on the app or widget on your home screen. The program is configured by default to turn the barometric pressure graph “red”when there is a rise or fall of more than 0.20 Hg (I think). The default graph will look like the graph in the screenshot just further below. This shows the pressure for the last 24hr in Hg. The far right edge of the graph is current time, and the far left edge of the graph represents 24hr earlier. To see the next 24hr forecast, press the tiny round red “in” button in the top right corner of the screen. Press it again, and it returns to the current 24hr graph. Scroll the screen to the “right” to see an hourly all weather forecast, and scroll to the right again to see the 10 day weather forecast. Scroll again and it comes back to the home screen.
VIEW ICON: View the pressure graph “icon” in either the notifications bar on the top of your phone’s screen, or in the lower right corner of Elecont 2×2 widget screen. I have both set up. The icon is a tiny display of the graph. When the pressure is substantially rising or falling, it will turn to red and be sloped accordingly.
The screenshot below is the default view on the opening screen of the eWeather HD app on Android devices. eWeather HD App panel displays a forecast graph of the previous, current, and next 24 hour period of barometric pressure.
USE OF NOTIFICATIONS/ALERTS: You have the option to receive an “audible alert” or “notification icon” when the change in barometric pressure exceeds the pre-set range within the app.
I personally do not use the audible alerts. Also, I am told audible alerts are not yet available in IOS versions. I personally use the notification icons available in three (3) places on my Android phone, which I identify below & share via screenshot:
1) Icon in lower right corner of 2×2 widget on my home screen;
Since I took the home screen screenshot below, I revised the “widget” display, weather data, and colors on my Android phone. I’ll share a new screenshot on my next update.
2) Task bar Icon at the top of my home screen;
3) List of Icons for eWeather HD & other phone functions on the Task Bar (top of phone home screen). The barometric pressure Notifications turn red when there is significant change in current, past 24 hours, or forcasted pressure. The colored Icon is readily seen on the screen. Users with visual impairment may require the app’s audible alerts. In addition, several times a day I click on the eWeather HD app widget, where a large view of the barometric pressure graph appears. Click on the “in” button in the top right corner, and the graph alternates between U.S. Provider & Foreca.com pressure graphs.
To set upcustomizable icon & audible alert notifications in the eWeather HD app, go to the OPTIONS panel. Press the “open menu” button on your phone within the eWeather HD app and scroll down to “options” near the bottom of the list. This is where you set up weather and barometric pressure alert information for both your task bar & home screen widget. First, select the “Alerts” option near the top of the options panel (not pictured in the screenshot below as it’s a long panel).
Click on the “Alerts” option near the top of the panel, and check the boxes like in the screenshot below.
Next, go to the main OPTIONS panel and select the “Status Bar Notification” in the lower portion of the panel. Select “Pressure Changes” like in the next screen.
Then check the appropriate boxes under “Pressure Changes” and select whether you want to receive an “audible notification” like in the screen below.
This concludes set up of alerts & notifications for Android devices. For help with the eWeather app widget, see “frequently asked questions” section under “About” on the OPTIONS panel.
To obtain a Google Promo code for a FREE download of the eWeather HD app for Android on Google Play, email your request to the address at bottom.
How to set up & View eWeather HD app on IOS Devices
While most of the eWeather HD app features and displays are quite identical on Android and IOS devices, audible Alerts & Task-bar (on-screen) Notifications are not yet available on iOS devices. I attended an iOS developer event and discussed these eWeather HD app challenges. I got to explore the iOS version of the app, which up till now I had not been able to as I don’t own an iOS device. And I discussed with an iOS developer the challenges with alerts & on-screen notifications on iOS devices. It has to do with Apple’s “Apple Push Notification” service, or APNs, which is the centerpiece of their network notifications, and involves additional security coding that has not yet been submitted for the iOS version. Apple has very strict requirements with their platform. Comparatively, on Android devices, I believe notifications & alerts are more “locally controlled” on the device and do not require the network security features.
You can purchase iOS versions of the eWeather HD app via the links below:
Purchase eWeather HD app for IOS devicesat the Apple/iTunes store, follow the links, installation screenshots, and link to Elecont’s customer support page:
I will be speaking with the developer, Elecont, on this issue to see what steps can be undertaken to that iOS device users can receive Notifications & Alerts.
Below are Task Bar & Widget Notifications available on my own Android device. I do not use the audible alerts as I explain below.
Notification icons that I personally use on my own Android phone include (SEE my screenshots of this in my above Android discussion):
1) Icon in lower right corner of 2×2 widget on my home screen;
2) Task bar Icon at the top of my home screen;
3) List of Icons for eWeather HD & other phone functions on the Task Bar (top of phone home screen). Barometric pressure Notifications turn red when there is significant change in barometric pressure. The colored Icon can readily be seen on the screen. Users with visual impairment may require audible alerts. In addition, several times a day I click on the eWeather HD app widget to view the barometric pressure graph. Clicking on the “in” button in the top right corner allows the graph to alternate between U.S. Provider & Foreca.com.
When task bar icons notifications become available in the IOS version, I suspect it will be set up from within the OPTIONS panel, very similar to how it is on Android. On Android, you press the “open menu” button within the eWeather HD app, and scroll down to “options.” Next you look for the option called “Notifications,” and then select the weather data you’d like displayed in on-screen notifications. Again I only use Task Bar Notifications, plus a home screen Widget with Icons I selected from within the options panel.
I will post new UPDATES on this ALERTS & NOTIFICATIONS iOS issue at the top of this blog, as well as discussions here, on fixes for alerts & notifications. The program screenshots below were kindly shared by an IOS device user. The app has the same features as the Android version, except for the Alerts & Notifications. iOS users must manually open the app to monitor BAROMETRIC PRESSURE changes.
And here’s the eWeather Apple app screenshot of its barometric pressure graph once the app is installed and operational.
My eWeather HD App Migraine/Headache Case Study
Below, is my own eWeather App case information from an episode in 2015 that forced me to stop working, lay down, take medication, and engage the eWeather HD app as an mHealth tool to salvage my day.
And as I lay down with shades drawn, I clicked on the widget of my Elecont eWeather HD app, where I could see I was in the midst of a very sharp fall in barometric pressure (screen image below). The app showed a “9 pt. drop” in only an hour – which is a very significant drop. It is the “rapid drop” in barometric pressure that is the most common trigger of migraine headache, next to stress.
My next step was to perform a valsalva (breath pressure) maneuver – which I use in my hydrocephalus and migraine care, to test my response to a temporary increasein brain blood pressure(BP) and intracranial pressure(ICP). If you’re experiencing a (hypotension) migraine from rapidly falling barometric pressure, often times valsalva maneuvers and changes in posture (up & down) over a 20 minute period, can provide some relief.
To do a valsalva maneuver, simply hold your breath for a few seconds while straining as though you were lifting something. Then note the change in your headacheduring the maneuver. If it feels relieving, that suggests your headache is due to low pressure or a “cerebral hypotension” brain state. If there is no change, that would suggests either your headache is unrelated to weather pressure, or your pressure is so low that the valsalva did not counter your low pressure enough. If your headache worsenswith this valsalva straining, that would suggests hypertension & elevated BP and/or ICP, and you should discontinue any further straining maneuvers.
With my migraine on that day, I got headache relief almost immediately from the valsalva pressure maneuver, and continued to perform these low pressure offsetting maneuvers. As I’ve used the app for several years, I knew today’s drop in pressure was unusual and steep. The eWeather App also changes the color of the graph to “red” during a steep rise or fall in barometric pressure. I put 2+2 together, and I concluded the sudden drop in pressure was likely the cause of my migraine headache.
I stayed supine for almost an hour, while continuing to perform 2-3 valsalva maneuvers each 10-15 minutes. Within 30-45 minutes, I was feeling like new! I also soon observed the barometric pressure to level off on my app’s display. Below is my screen image:
Weather Web Sites
Weather web sites also offer some barometric pressure information. Prior to the Elecont HD weather app, I primarily used two online weather sites. Weather Underground lists barometric pressure forecast data, but only 6 hours of forecast data the last time I looked.
Two weather web sites I used in the past include Weather UndergroundandWeather For You. For these, you need to put in your zip code or city to view the weather panel for your area. They list a table and graph options for weather data. Weather Underground gives 6 hour forecasts ahead on barometric pressure.
The Medical Science of Migraine Headaches
Migraine headaches are typically due to cerebral hypotension, where blood vessels in the brain become dilated, resulting in low blood pressure in the brain, and then headache. During weather change, a sudden falling of barometric pressure can leave you further vulnerable to cerebral hypotension. And it is the rapidly falling barometric pressure that is often the trigger of a migraine. Menstruation, and its associated blood loss, can also contribute/help trigger cerebral hypotension and migraine.
Knowing the cause of your migraine will help you best treat it. In the case of my migraine on this day, it was the sudden drop in barometric pressure that induced my headache. My quick assessment of its cause, then allowed me to undertake swift intervention.
Valsalva maneuvers and laying down preferably in a dark or quiet room, is a common treatment in migraine. But some may also need medication. You should keep watch on the barometric pressure during a migraine to confirm that it is stabilizing.
Weather related headaches affect some 15% or more of the world’s population. Migraine is also common in the disorder, hydrocephalus. Migraine headaches are also passed on thru family genetics.
Much has been written about the connection between weather and migraine headache. The popular over the counter medicine, Excedrin, combines aspirin or Tylenol with caffeine (a vasoconstrictor) to offset dilated blood vessels (cerebral hypotension) which is the most common scientific explanation for migraine headache. Excedrin helps both with pain and constricting of the dilated blood vessels. For this reason, Excedrin is uniquely helpful in the treatment of weather related migraine. Below, is a web page Excedrin has published on the weather-migraine connection.
The above Smithsonian Magazine article primarily discusses the feasibility of whether the Migraine Buddy app can predict migraine headache. For more on this, SEE my review and comparison of the Migraine Buddy app and Headache Diary Pro and how each can integrate with the eWeather HD app further below.
I have written much about how to use mHealth apps, home treatment, and prevention of medical disorders. And migraine can be better managed by following my tips in this section.
One simple technique is to have a cup of coffee or tea right before onset of a migraine. Caffeine acts to constrict dilated blood vessels in the brain, and can also be used prophylacticly head off an onset of migraine and cerebral hypotension – before a big headache strikes. Similarly, exercises like yoga, which involve frequent changes in posture (eg. standing to lying down), can can help to normalize cerebral hypotension and your brain’s ill-fated response to falling barometric pressure.
Another more pragmatic remedy that helps me is rapid hydration with water (two to four 12 oz. glasses) over a 15-30 minute interval at first onset of symptoms. The water helps raise blood pressure (BP) and infuse fresh blood and nutrients into the brain. Other remedies include changing postures from standing to laying down over 30 sec to 2 minute intervals, and light exercise with short interval BP surges. This helps to flex the tiny blood vessels in the brain most responsible for migraine. Regular exercise also improves your intolerance to cerebral hypotension. PRECAUTION: Should you suffer from high blood pressure or heart disease – you should consult with your doctor before doing these physical exertion exercises.
Once a migraine event has begun, it is recommended you lay down supine for at least 15-20 minutes to raise your brain’s blood pressure and help offset the hypotensive state.
Loud/monotonous sounds, stress, other illness, and poor sleepcan also leave you more susceptible to migraines. Many migraine sufferers also suffer from SPD or “sensory processing disorder,” and become overly sensitive to loud ertatic sounds. It’s important during a migraine, to remove yourself from sources of light, sound, and commotion as best you can, as it helps calm the brain. The following is a detailed blog I’ve authored on sensory processing disorder:
Women during menstruation are also more susceptable to migraine from the slight blood loss causing a hypotensive state. Coupled with a drop in barometric pressure, if you are a woman common to this syndrome, menstruation and barometric pressure drop can send you into a full migraine crisis. To offset this, you should drink extra fluidsduring menstruation.
Migraine sufferers should also limit intake of alcohol, as this can lead to dehydration, and alteration of brain neurotransmitters. Also limit foods with high fat and sugar contentas this compromises healthy circulation in the brain. You will likely see a noticeable difference in frequency and severity of your migraines just by altering your intake of alcohol, fat, and sugars.
To help reduce sensitivityto changes in barometric pressure, regular exercise like yoga can help brain compliance and cerebral blood flow. Breath work and meditation also help improve blood flow in the brain, and your stress response. Drumming is an excellent exercise as it also reduces stress. Weight lifting, sports, walking, and all exercise helps improve blood flow in the brain, that can offset migraines. Below, the Mayo Clinic web site offers some info on migraine.
For many migraine sufferers, weather related triggers pose regular challenges. Here I personally have found the eWeather HP app to be an excellent mHealth tool for alerting you of coming changes in barometric pressure. Managing migraine, and its many different causes, can be a complex health challenge. So you should be discussing the eWeather HP app and other details ith your doctor.
My initial blog on weather monitoring for migraine was in 2014. In that blog, I shared my experiences on the use of weather web sites and the eWeather app. But the eWeather Elecont app has become the best tool for managing weather induced migraine headache.
With the condition hydrocephalus, which I live with, a headache during rising pressurecould also indicate an early sign of shunt malfunction, signal an improperly programmed CNS shunt, or be a sign you’re not yet stable following shunting or ETV. As a significant headache [during high barometric pressure] could indicate “shunt malfunction,” you should take this up with your doctor.
How to obtain your FREE Android eWeather HD Google Promo Code
The Google Promo code for the Elecont eWeather HD App is a $4.99 value. Per the developer, no free downloads are available for Apple devices. I strongly encourage you READ my entire blog after downloading the eWeather HD app.
To obtain yourFREE Google Promo code,email me at contact [at] dollecommunications [dot] com – I will email you back your code, usually within a couple hours, but almost always within 24 hours.
How to Install your eWeather HD Google Promo Code
1. Once you’ve obtained your “Google Promo code,” go to the Google Play store and search for eWeather HD app (or similarly follow the link in my email). I’ve heard mixed feedback as to whether you SHOULD or SHOULD NOT be signed in. 2. Next click and open up the app – and you should see a panel as in STEP1 below. Click on INSTALL. 3. You should now be given the option to buy with a Google Promo code. Do not select BUY if you’re signed in as the $4.99 might be billed to your Google account. You need to be at the REDEEM YOUR CODE panel as seen in STEP2 below. For some users, you may need to sign out of Google Play store in order to see the REDEEM YOUR CODE panel. 4. Next, enter the Google Promo code I emailed you and select REDEEM. Then select ACCEPT. You should immediately see the app installing.
Purchase the eWeather HD app for Android devices directly at the Android store, follow this link:
Android Mobile Apps for the Home Care of Migraines & Headache
This section compares two leading Android mobile “migraine” apps I have used for home care of migraine headache, and can offer my insights. These apps would need to be used in addition to the eWeather HD app as neither provides any monitoring or alerts on changes in barometric pressure. Headache Diary Pro vs Migraine Buddy. I use the “pro” version of Headache Diary, and the “free” and only version of Migraine Buddy. They are nearly identical in application, but differ in their UI panel and usability. Where Headache Diary Pro provides all the necessary monitoring and migraine reports, Migraine Buddy charges a monthly or yearly subscription for their reports. I find the Migraine Buddy a more detailed and user friendly program. But you would need to have a significant migraine problem to spend $9 per month or $90 per year.
My recommendation as to your individual use of the eWeather HD and above apps is based on the severity of your migraine issue as to the degree that it impairs your quality of life. That should determine how much time and money you may want to spend on these.
eWeather HD app: If you are certain that your migraines are often triggered by changes in weather, then this app is a must for you. You may also want to download one of the migraine apps if your condition poses significant to quality of life. The eWeather HD app is not too difficult and time consuming to set up. And it offers many other weather features such as 10-day weather forecasts, live radar, weather alerts, and earthquake alerts, to name a few.
Headache Diary Pro: I have used this app for several years and find it very adequate for recording and storing migraine data to later print out when you see your doctor. It’s fairly simple to use. And I don’t believe there are any other additional costs to use.
Migraine Buddy: The Migraine Buddy is perhaps the newest mHealth design of any of the migraine apps I’ve looked at. I downloaded it today and ran it thru a trial headache event. While I favor its UI interface over the other migraine apps, I am not willing to pay a monthly or year subscription fee to get the results. This is a decision only each of you can make as to how migraine affects your quality of life, and what you are willing to do to possible better manage it.
If money weren’t an issue, I’d likely choose Migraine Buddy. But be forewarned, the Migraine Buddy and Headache diary Pro (and likely all migraine apps) require a significant investment of time. If you suffer daily headaches from hydrocephalus as I do, one of these two apps can be helpful. But, the more time and thought you give to your headaches, the more they seem to take up space in your mind. This goes the same for pain and pain management too. Below is the Manage My Pain Pro app I have tried and found helpful for pain management, though time consuming.
Mobile Health Apps for Hydrocephalus
As I have written about the use of mobile apps for migraine headache, I wanted to also share some more specific applications I’ve written about for persons with hydrocephalus. Two of the most common apps I use (Metal/EMF Detector, Decibel Meter) can be found on the Smart Tools web site. I’ve used these apps for several years and find them helpful in managing hydrocephalus and SPD related complaints. I also now have a special blog of apps and tips for living with hydrocephalusbelow.
Metal Detector – This EMF app is handy for measuring magnetic fields in your surroundings from various electronic devices & household appliances should you have a programmable CNS shunt for hydrocephalus. I personally have used the Smart Tools Metal Detector for 4 years and find it accurate and helpful.
Sound Meter – Decibeter meter apps measure the loudness of sound around you should you be sensitive to sounds as a result of hydrocephalus, autism, and other disorders that often lead to sensory processing disorder, or SPD. I personally use the Smart Tools decibel meter app and find it accurate and helpful.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this blog and found health tips to help in managing your migraines. If I can be of any specific help in mHealth design, use of these apps, hydrocephalus care & monitoring, drum circles for wellness and brain health, or speaking on these topics, please contact me via the information below.
Please also email me for a Google Promo codefor a FREE download of eWeather HD for Android devices (Google Play store).
You may also save my Contact Card.
Stephen Dolle Tel. (949) 642-4592 Email: contact[at]dollecommunications[dot]com
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.
Have you ever viewed the Internet as a big DRUM CIRCLE? Think again.
In this TED talk, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the Internet gives his view of a world-wide & open Internet, with free and open participation on the web. I’ll take the Internet a step further, and equate it as one massive “drum circle,” where each user freely makes their own contribution, and then the whole is more than the sum of the individual parts. Some of the TED Talk comments here support my reasoning. Still others describe the Internet further as an integral part of the “noosphere,” the collective thought of all people on Earth.
Last week on June 11, 2013, I held a drum circle at a group home for persons with schizophrenia. This was my first time conducting a therapeutic drum circle for this specific population and disorder, though I’ve put on drum circles in senior living homes and homeless shelters where some were schizophrenic. In my nuclear medicine work (17 years), I encountered this in some of my procedures and clinical workups. And in coaching of some 20 youth sports teams, I encountered a variety of behavioral issues.
I undertook some pre-event research of published works on the use of drumming and music therapy in schizophrenic populations. Mostly what I found via the Internet was with using music therapy, and most of this focused on supporting happiness and self-worth, where the latter was widely used towards sustaining employment.
With little published on the use of drumming here, I mostly relied on my broad experiences in drumming and in the neurosciences. I felt if today’s group were made happier by the drumming, then I would have achieved most of my goal. But there are also going to be family present. And I knew family would have questions, and attendees may well have questions too. There was also some pre-event discussion on how this mighty become an ongoing workshop. Still, I was undecided on which methods I would use today. I felt I should just go with the flow, and see what jumps out at me. And it did.
As I arrived, I was welcomed by my own heightened intuitive senses, and I picked up on many of the thoughts, energies, and emotions of the attendees and family. This may have been precipitated by a recent hectic schedule and limited sleep, but it could well have been due in part to a long talk I had the day before on traumatic brain injury. I relied upon my “intuitive direction” on how to facilitate this event, some of which I discuss in my blog below
Nonetheless, I was feeling highly insightful, and it led to some really warm discussions on earlier rock music and drummers, and this paved the way for my use of an “informative” approach with the drum circle, where I spoke and discussed the instruments, something I normally don’t do a lot of. It was a “busy” drum circle as we were in a fairly cluttered room with lots of furniture, some 15 people anxious and curious to play, and a lunch in waiting upon our finish. Below is a photo of me putting on another drumming workshop at a private home – that I share so readers can see what a “drum circle” is about. Privacy laws would prohibit me from sharing photos of patients/clients at a group home.
We got started on a simple rhythm. But, just as it was starting to gel, one of the attendees (John) jumped on the tan tans (bass) I had moved aside, and said I didn’t feel they’d fit without a skilled drummer to lead, as I would facilitate from djembe. As you might imagine, the bass killed the rhythm. I regrouped, and this time assigned John to play a simple bass pattern. But that didn’t work either, so I had to emphatically put the tans aside.
Over the next 45 minutes, we played a number of rhythms, and I think all were pleased. Then we enjoyed a nice pot luck lunch and social, followed by the group’s scheduled support session that I did not participate in. I was told after that the drumming seemed to cause a lot more participation and dialogue that usual. And the parent who arranged for my drum circle shared he felt the drumming really benefited them today.
I’m not able to provide photos of this event to due privacy reasons, but I have written other blogs that discuss the scientific challenges and integrative medicine mechanisms that are similar to that see in schizophrenia. The science of movement in basketball is very applicable to this disorder, as movement helps quiet the mind. Drumming for addiction is similarly applicable. As is drumming for autism. My related blogs include:
As I reflected back on my drum circle and session, it occurred to me that what this group really wanted and needed from me – was acceptance and HEALING! Drumming turned out to be the activity that brought everybody, and it was the service they paid me for. As a drum session facilitator, I felt rewarded to be able to work with this group.
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.
If you would like me to speak on my efforts with sensory processing disorder,workplace drumming or therapeutic drumming, please contact me via the information below. Feel free to CLICK and SAVE my contact JPEG card.
Stephen Dolle Neuroscientist & Drum Circle Facilitator Dolle Communications Email: contact[at]dollecommunications[dot]com Tel. (949) 642-4592
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.
Please review my information and contact me if you are interested in drumming therapy sessions, consults, or speaking. The best method of contact is via email. Feel free to CLICK and SAVE my contact JPEG card.
Stephen Dolle Neuroscientist, mHealth Inventor & Drum Circle Facilitator Tel. (949) 642-4592 contact[at]dollecommunications[dot]com DolleCommunications.com