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.
Complementary and Alternative Medicine Methods in Addiction Treatment
Stephen M. Dolle
CEO, Dolle Communications
Neuroscientist, Drum Circle Facilitator, and Hydrocephalus Survivor
Presented Sept. 9, 2015
Sovereign Health, San Clemente
Presentation on CAM in Addiction
Overview of Addiction
Medical Sequela in addiction
Prospects in Managing Health Complaints thru mHealth
Cognition and Addiction
Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)
Neurotransmitters of the Brain
Brainwave States of the Brain
Types of CAM/Alternative Medicine Therapies
Alternative Therapies in Addiction Treatment
Most Promising CAM Therapies per my Research
There are many types of addictions, and many different approaches to the physical and psychological needs of individuals affected by addiction. In this presentation, I examine complementary and alternative medicine and CAM methods in drug & alcohol and other addiction treatment. Sovereign Health is a full service addiction treatment organization serving Orange, Los Angeles, and San Diego Counties.
My affiliation with addiction treatment is mostly through my work as a drum circle facilitator, where group drumming, or drum circles, is used as an efficacious method of treatment, and with very good success. My other connection is in living with the condition, hydrocephalus, where I share similar cognitive, sensory processing, and chronic fatigue complaints to addiction.
One of the notable neurological sequela is sensory processing disorder, or SPD. It is often secondary to many neurological and learning disorders. I discuss how alternative modalities might bring relief to SPD complaints in addiction, where I have had very favorable outcomes with drumming and drumming therapy. I am hoping a new detailed look at these modalities might reveal some new prospects.
Cognitive dysfunction in addiction (and neurological disorders) raises additional challenges with cognitive accessibility and intolerance to sounds, lights, scents, and motion, and difficulty understanding instructions, web pages, and product labels. A myriad of protections are possible in mitigating adverse exposure, and in rendering instructions, web sites, and facilities more understandable, and thus accessible.
Complementary and Alternative Medicine, or CAM, is the term designated by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). It generally refers to the array of modalities used in adjunct to traditional or Western medicine. Other terms such as alternative medicine, mind-body medicine, and healing medicine, are then used more broadly. I have followed and adopted a number of alternative medicine methods since my early years in mindfulness study (1973). I was influenced by early books from Dr. Wayne Dyer and Norman Vincent Peele, articles about nutrition, philosophy, and spiritual healing.
My Conclusions found the following offer the greatest potential as adjunct treatment:
2. Alpha Theta Brain Wave Therapies
3. Spirituality, Faith & Belief
4. Psychotherapy guided sensory & movement therapies
5. Therapies (drumming, basketball) coupled with EEG biofeedback*
6. Neurotransmitter (nootropic) supplements
I did not review and discuss supplements and homeopathy. But will be adding these as separate blogs in the coming months.
Current studies report very favorably on meditation and alpha-theta brainwave biofeedback methods – as it allows participants to lower brainwave states into the alpha phase (8-15 Hz), where improved recall of memories necessary for processing trauma & healing is possible.
Favorable results are reported in movement, sensory, and touch (massage) therapies, particularly when a practitioner interacts with dialog and affirmations. This helps to overcome trauma and negative emotions about an illness. It includes EMDR therapy.
The increased availability of EEG reader technology coupled with mobile phones and tablets can be added to therapies and allow enhanced biofeedback in alpha brainwave states. I am excited to try adding EEG wave assessment to basketball and drumming. I currently only track eye and body movements as an estimate of brainwave states.
Nootropic supplements of neurotransmitters is intriguing today with what we know about brain science and the 8-10 neurochemicals at play in behavior, cognition, mood, and energy levels. What is often difficult to ascertain, is determining which neurotransmitters an individual might be deficient in. Nootropics offer consumers the ability to supplement these for improved brain health and performance. An mHealth app might further this assessment to more strategically target low levels.
I’ve practiced spirituality, faith, and belief methodologies since the 1970s with good outcomes, while also witnessing some in my earlier nuclear medicine work. Faith/belief, like so many alternative modalities, can be difficult to corroborate due to user bias to a particular doctrine, practitioner, or technique. Still, my experience and studies report favorable some very outcomes with faith healing. The specific faith or belief is one of personal preference. Between 1981-1992, I interviewed several thousand patients on illness and belief, and channel that into my mindfulness methods in drumming today.
Photo at Top: The image, while it appears to be from a 1960s record album, is actually created from one of my MRI brain images. I created it as a tribute to EMI Records (record label for The Beatles & Frank Sinatra), who funded the development of the first CT brain scanner in 1971, that garnered the Nobel Prize. It was a testament to innovation!
On November 13, 2015, I published this blog on Nootropics Supplements:
Array of neurological complaints, incl. balance & sensory
Dual diagnosis mental health disorders
Co-occurring general health lung, liver, GI, and other disorders
Dual Diagnosis vs Co-occurring Disorder Influences
More than 1/3 of people with mental illness also have substance abuse problems. More than 1/2 of drug abusers also report experiencing mental illness.
Individuals living with a substance abuse disorder, often have one or more physical health problems such as lung disease, hepatitis, HIV/AIDS, cardiovascular disease, and cancer, plus mental health disorders. Great site
Underlying brain pathology is so common and often difficult to detect, and can include undiagnosed prior brain injury, concussion, genetic & environmental disorders. These can occur both as dual and co-occurring disorders, and contribute to cognitive and sensory dysfunction, and can markedly diminish outcomes and likelihood of relapse. Identification of these is often limited by sensitivity & specificity of the diagnostic procedure, competence of medical staff, and practices in the field, i.e. politics of sensory processing disorder (SPD). Dolle recommends your treatment approach should account for underlying hidden pathology. Stephen M. Dolle, online writings; Addiction and Cognition, Thomas J. Gould Ph.D., Dec 2010
Management of Complaints and Co-occurring Disorders thru mHealth
I designed an earlier mHealth app for hydrocephalus, and write about mHealth apps today for the care of neurological disorders. Some of these Apple & Android apps include PTSD, migraine, sleep, pain management, diaries, diabetes & asthma, etc. Some are discussed on the blogs and web pages below.
Drug addiction manifests clinically as compulsive drug seeking, use, and cravings that can persist and recur after extended periods of abstinence. From a neurological perspective, addiction is a disorder of “altered cognition.”
The brain regions and processes that underlie addiction overlap with those involved in essential cognitive functions: learning, memory, attention, reasoning, and impulse control. Drugs alter normal brain structure and function, and produce cognitive shifts that promote continued drug use thru maladaptive learning.
First Stage: drug use increases and becomes uncontrolled, resulting in drug-induced deregulation of the brain’s reward system (Feltenstein and See, 2008). Normally, dopamine is associated with pleasurable feelings, activities, and sex. Drugs hyperactivate this system and trigger abrupt increases in dopamine and sensations, cueing the user to take more, and promoting a new maladaptive drug association (Feltenstein and See, 2008).
Second Stage: the addictive process poses new clinical symptoms, withdrawal, vulnerability to relapse, with alterations in decision making and cognition. Kalivas and Volkow (2005) reported that drug-induced alterations in signals by the neurotransmitter glutamate from the brain area associated with judgment, the prefrontal cortex, which disrupts cognitive and other processes needed for abstinence.
Drug use causes changes in the brain and cognition, affecting the striatum, prefrontal cortex, amygdala, and hippocampus (Jones and Bonci, 2005; Kalivas and Volkow, 2005; Kelley, 2004; Le Moal and Koob, 2007). These regions underlie declarative memory, which are key in maintaining a concept of self (Cahill and McGaugh, 1998; Eichenbaum, 2000; Kelley, 2004; Setlow, 1997). Research suggests drug use impact on cognition is far-reaching.
These drugs increase cognition in the first stage: amphetamine, nicotine, and cocaine. (Del et al., 2007; Kenney and Gould, 2008; Mattay, 1996).
The increase can also be a reversal of withdrawal. (Swan and Lessov-Schlaggar, 2007). Cocaine produced similar effects in a study of rats (Devonshire, Mayhew, and Overton, 2007).
Studies show many drugs reshape the communication pathways between neurons (synaptic plasticity), which can contribute to the formation and persistence of maladaptive drug-stimulus associations.
Cocaine and nicotine induce one form of synaptic plasticity, strengthening neural connections via long-term potentiation (LTP; see Learning in the Mind and Brain on page 8 and Table 1) (Argilli et al., 2008; Kenney and Gould, 2008). Amphetamine can enhance LTP (Delanoy, Tucci, and Gold, 1983).
Marijuana activates the endocannabinoid system, resulting in inhibition LTP and long-term depression (LTD), a form of synaptic plasticity in which connections between neurons become less responsive (Carlson, Wang, and Alger, 2002; Nugent and Kauer, 2008; Sullivan, 2000). Ethanol consistently disrupts LTP while enhancing LTD (Yin et al., 2007).
Morphine inhibits LTP of neurons that exhibit inhibitory control of neural activity via the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) (Nugent and Kauer, 2008). Inhibition of GABA activity can lead to an increase in neural activity throughout the brain, stronger associations, and maladaptive drug-context associations.
Drugs produce cognition-related withdrawal and makes abstinence more difficult
cocaine—deficits in cognitive flexibility (Kelley et al., 2005);
amphetamine—deficits in attention and impulse control (Dalley et al., 2005);
opioids—deficits in cognitive flexibility (Lyvers and Yakimoff, 2003);
alcohol—deficits in working memory and attention (Moriyama et al., 2006);
cannabis—deficits in cognitive flexibility and attention (Pope, Gruber, and Yurgelun-Todd, 2001); and
nicotine—deficits in working memory and declarative learning (Kenney and Gould, 2008).
These cognitive deficits with withdrawal are often temporary, but long-term use can lead to lasting cognitive decline, depending on the drug, the environment, and the user’s genetic makeup (see Genes, Drugs, and Cognition on page 11).
Long-term cannabis use causes impaired learning, retention, and retrieval of dictated words, with both long-term and short-term users showing deficits in time estimation (Solowij et al., 2002).
Chronic amphetamine and heroin users show deficits in verbal fluency, pattern recognition, planning, and the ability to shift attention from one frame of reference to another (Ornstein et al., 2000).
Prenatal alcohol exposure is the leading cause of mental retardation in the United States (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2009). Fetal alcohol exposure increases susceptibility to later substance abuse (Yates et al., 1998).
Prenatal drug exposure can have significant effects on cognition and behavior in a developing child.
Nicotine use is strongly associated with ADHD, where cognitive symptoms are similar to those during nicotine withdrawal, and both have alterations in the acetylcholinergic system (Beane and Marrocco, 2004; Kenney and Gould, 2008). Acute nicotine use can also reverse some ADHD attentional deficits (Conners et al., 1996).
Genetic makeup also influences the way a drug alters cognitive processes.
FDA has approved three newer medications for treatment of substance abuse:
a) buprenorphine to treat opioid addictions in 2002
b) acamprosate to treat alcohol addiction in 2004
c) extended-release naltrexone to treat alcohol addictions in 2006 and opioid addiction in 2010.
Sensory Processing Disorder
First defined by occupational therapist Anna Jean Ayres in 1972 as the neurological process that organizes sensation from one’s body and environment, sensory processing disorder makes it difficult to use the body effectively within the environment.
WebMD: Sensory processing disorder is a condition in which the brain has trouble receiving and responding to information that comes in through the senses. It used to be called sensory integration dysfunction.
Article explores the convergence between two fields: clinical field of sensory integration, and a branch of neuroscience that uses the term to describe specific types of sensation disorders.
Newer technology has allowed a new focus on multisensory integration (MSI), which studies the interaction of two or more sensory modalities.
SPD today includes a variety of subtypes depending on the senses involved and functional impairment.
The clinical field is not unified on the subtypes, one group proposes six subtypes (Miller, 2006; Miller et al., 2007), but individuals may also have a combination of subtypes (R. Picard and E. Hedman). Miller proposes three main categories:
A. Sensory Modulation Disorder (SMD): difficulty regulating responses to sensory stimulation. Three subtypes are proposed:
1) Sensory over-responsive (responds too much, for too long, or to stimuli of weak intensity)
2) Sensory under-responsive (responds too little, or needs strong stimulation to be aware of stimulus)
3) Sensory seeking/craving (responds with craving for more or stronger stimulation). All three modulation subtypes have in common difficulty grading or regulating responses to sensory stimuli.
B. Sensory Discrimination Disorder (SDD): Sensory discrimination disorder refers to difficulty interpreting the specific characteristics of sensory stimuli (e.g., intensity, duration, spatial, and temporal elements of sensations; Miller, 2006; Miller et al., 2007a).
Sensory discrimination disorder can be present in any of the seven sensory systems (i.e., vestibular, proprioceptive, and the five basic senses).
C. Sensory-based Motor Disorder (SMD): Within sensory-based motor disorder, two subtypes are proposed:
1) Postural disorder, which reflects problems in balance and core stability, and
2) Dyspraxia, which encompasses difficulties in motor planning and sequencing movements.
I became very involved in sensory processing disorder in the years following my treatment of hydrocephalus. My initial complaints were vestibular, and sensitivity to sound and light, especially real chaotic sources. As you will read from my efforts below, I had already been doing research with medical devices and cognition when I became involved in music therapy. I also recall in the first few years following my initial surgeries, doing tai chi, yoga, swimming, chiropractic, and trying a variety of supplements. But, I was very involved in alternative medicine and healing back in the 1980s. And in 1981 while working as a nuclear medicine technologist, I serendipitously developed skills as a medical intuitive. SEE more about my past efforts in alternative medicine in this 2012 blog.
In 2002, I undertook my first study of sensory integration, and two years later, I became involved in drumming, or drum circles. You will read in the following paragraphs of my extensive efforts in sensory processing, and my efforts today in its future of “cognitive accessibility.”
I view sensory processing disorder as a group of neurological (sensory) complaints, or sequela, associated with dysfunction of the brain & body sensory centers as described by Miller et.al. The specific sensory center involved then determines the type of functional limitation the patient will suffer. But, sensory processing also involves balance & movement, verbal & non-verbal communications, social integration, and independence.
In my experience, the three most common SPD sub-types are: sensitivity to sound, light, and motion. And, it is environmental “triggers” of these affected senses that can put you in an SPD crisis. Learn to be aware what your specific triggers are, and the levels needed to affect you. You can keep written notes, or there are PTSD and pain management mobile apps today that can serve as a journal.
Common complaints typically triggered by susceptibility to SPD include:
•irritability/ behavioral challenges
•nausea & vomiting
•loss of balance, disorientation
•inability of function
Disorders commonly associated with SPDs include: post-concussion, post TBI, hydrocephalus, migraine, autism, PTSD, ADHD, post tumor, dementia, and varying degrees of drug & alcohol addiction.
I have had limited exposure to SPDs in drug & alcohol addiction. But I know they are somewhat common thru addiction’s long term connection with PTSD. But there’s not much published about it. In fact, there are few studies on SPD outside of PTSD and autism.
I estimate SPD today affects about 1 in 5 Americans, when you include seniors with varying degrees of dementia. The challenge is in raising the level of research and awareness that can lead to new treatments. Over the years, I developed my own methods in warding off the effects of SPD as best I could. And in hydrocephalus like in many of the disorders, SPD seems to be more problematic when migraine and other neuro complaints are at their minimum.
6. Play or listen to music, learn compensatory methods to your triggers
Learn how to engage/focus your attention on other things during exposure to triggers
My 2002 SPD study led to my becoming involved with music therapy, and later, drumming. After many years of research and efforts in SPD, I created a separate page on the Cognitive Neurosciences with the identified sub-pages.
The above link is to my 2002 study of SPD I undertook with the metronome on this Boss Recording unit. I confirmed that it is the lack of rhythmic pattern that renders sound much more problematic. I also affirmed that melodic patterns of the same sound were more pleasing, as was also reported in the Mozart Effect. SEE also my blog and web page on sensory processing in football where stadium levels can become problematic.
Myself and others have worked to explain sensory processing disorder or SPD. The next step is in protecting cognition in one’s environment, and the “triggers” that make one ill.
It is my contention that specific disability accommodations are protections from triggers and should apply to individuals with SPDs by virtue of a disability, and moderation of known triggers like adverse sounds, lights, scents, etc in public place, affects the individuals use of facilities. Therefore, accommodations via management of adverse triggers should come under the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 508 of the Rehab Act. Loud TV commercials and sound exposure in one’s home should also be regulated, just as is wheelchair and visual accessibility. Cognitive accommodations should apply to web sites, buildings, and user instructions for a wide range of products. Examples of noise exposure protections are identified below.
Reasonable SPD Accommodations
1. Protection from sudden load audio of TV commercials & programs
2. Construction noise at home, work, and school.
3. Loud music & machinery noise in public places, buildings, health clubs, restaurants, etc.
From 1950-1980, while there were no efforts to make information and technology more user friendly for cognitive accessibility, there were established information practices as a “courtesy” so the user wouldn’t get stressed wondering what was happening to their TV set. This was a common image broadcasters displayed on your TV screen in the event of a problem. Today – you get nothing of the sort. It’s more your problem. Figure it out.
Of course, screen ads like the Yelp screen image below is a common accessibility issue today. Such ads diminish accessibility of a web page, and I hope they cease.
Or if you have a cognitive disability and are out shopping for toothpaste, and come across a busy aisle like that below, with similar packaging – prepare to be in that aisle for a while. Hopefully in the future, stores will better organize these displays.
This cognitive accessibility organization is affiliated with the U.S. government and offers the most up to date information in web design and issues with the internet
There is a tremendous amount of disinformation in SPD, which seems more about politics and insurance reimbursement, than science. I suspect it originates from earlier claims of PTSD from combat, and in children with autism. The way to offset this is with public awareness, activism, and research.
Problematic PR in Addiction, Mental Health, and Neurological Disorders
-the need to turn the image around (esp for cog access), turn a negative into a positive
-compare what Viagra & Sen. Bob Dole did for the embarrassment of ED (erectile dysfunction)
Portugal dramatically improved its ability to encourage drug addicts to avail themselves of treatment. The resources previously devoted to prosecuting and imprisoning drug addicts are now available for treatment programs. Portugal now has the lowest rates of marijuana usage (10%) in people over 15 in the EU. Drug use of all kinds declined.
Neurotransmitters of the Brain
The article below discusses 7 key neurotransmitters or molecules of the brain and their role in cognition, happiness, sleep, etc. The author writes on sports psychology. I’ve pasted in a few key paragraphs from the article.
1. Endocannabinoids: these molecules work on the CB-1 and CB-2 receptors of the cannabinoid system. Anandamide (from Sanskrit “Ananda” meaning Bliss) is the most well-known endocannabinoid. There are at least 85 cannabinoids that have been isolated from the Cannabis plant. It is felt that each of these alters perception and states of consciousness in various ways. It is likely we self-produce many variations of endocannabinoids.
Endocannabinoids act to control neurotransmitter release in a host of neuronal tissues, including the hippocampus, amygdala, basal ganglia, and cerebellum.
A recent study at the University of Arizona published in April 2012 suggested that endocannabinoids are most likely the source of “runner’s high.” The study showed that humans and dogs significantly increase endocannabinoids following sustained running. It not address the potential role of endorphins in runner’s high. Other research has focused on the blood–brain barrier (BBB), which reported that endorphin molecules are too large to pass freely across the BBB, and are probably not responsible for the blissful state in runner’s high.
This latest study offers a more definitive connection with this neurochemical. You have the option to read or download the full study.
2. Dopamine: it is a reward-driven neurotransmitter for pleasure. Every type of reward that has been studied increases the level of dopamine transmission in the brain.
Dopamine plays a key role in the limbic system, which is involved in emotional function and control. It also plays a part in movement, alertness, and sensations of pleasure.
Many addictive drugs, such as cocaine and methamphetamine, act directly on the dopamine system. Cocaine blocks the reuptake of dopamine, leaving these neurotransmitters in the synaptic gap longer. There is evidence people with extraverted, or uninhibited personalities, tend to have higher levels of dopamine than those with introverted personalities. Try and increase your levels of dopamine naturally by being a go-getter idea person.
3. Oxytocin: “Bonding Molecule” (hormone) is directly linked to human bonding, social trust, and loyalty. High levels of oxytocin correlate with romantic attachment in men. When a couple is separated, the lack of physical contact lowers oxytocin and drives the feeling of longing to be with that person again. Oxytocin levels are typically higher in women. In men, vasopressin (a close cousin to oxytocin) may be more the “bonding molecule.” It is said that those who engage in philanthropy and volunteerism have higher levels of oxytocin.
The strong emotional bonding between humans and dogs may have a biological basis in oxytocin too. And is likely why seniors and widowers live longer happier lives when they keep a dog. If you don’t have a partner to offer you affection and increase oxytocin, pets, dogs and cats fill a key void.
Oxytocin is involved in the control of maternal behavior. A large amount of oxytocin is made in the hypothalamus, transported to the posterior lobe of the pituitary and released into the blood.
4. Endorphin: Resemble opiates in chemical structure, and have analgesic properties too. Serum β-Endorphin is an endogenous opioid neuropeptide found in the neurons of both the central and peripheral nervous system. It is one of five endorphins found in humans, the others of which include α-endorphin, γ-endorphin, α-neoendorphin, and β-neoendorphin.
β-Endorphin release in response to exercise has been known and studied since at least the 1980s. Studies have demonstrated that serum concentrations of endogenous opioids, in particular β-endorphin and β-lipotrophin, increase in response to both acute exercise and training. The notion of β-endorphin release during exercise is colloquially known in popular culture as a runner’s high.
Research has shown that acupuncture needles at specific body points can trigger the production of endorphins. In another study, higher levels of endorphins were found in cerebrospinal fluid after acupuncture.
5. GABA: “Anti-Anxiety Molecule” is an inhibitory molecule that slows the firing of neurons and creates a sense of calmness. You increase GABA naturally by practicing yoga, meditation, relaxing activities. Benzodiazepines, such as Valium and Xanax, are sedatives that increase GABA. But these drugs have side effects and pose risks of dependency.
A study in the “Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine” found a 27% increase in GABA levels among yoga practitioners after a 60-minute yoga session, compared to participants who just read a book for 60 minutes. Meditation also lowers beta brain waves to theta waves, reported to aid calm and clear recall of memories.
6. Serotonin: Plays many different roles in the brain. High serotonin aids self-esteem, feelings of worthiness and a sense of belonging (salience). For this reason, serotonin is mimicked in drug and alcohol addiction, and also in prescription drugs for depression, where they are termed Serotonin-Specific Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs). Drugs include Prozac, Celexa, Lexapro, and Zoloft. The main indication for SSRIs is clinical depression, but SSRIs are frequently prescribed for anxiety, panic disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), eating disorders, chronic pain, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Serotonin also helps regulate sleep.
SSRIs got there name because it was once thought they worked by keeping serotonin in the synaptic gap for longer and make people happier. However, some people never respond to SSRIs. But they do respond to medications that act on GABA, and dopamine or norepinephrine.
7. Adrenaline: real name is epinephrine, and plays a key role in the fight or flight mechanism. The release of epinephrine creates a big surge in energy. It increases heart rate, blood pressure, causes less important blood vessels to constrict ,and increasing blood flow to larger muscles. An “Epi-Pen” is a shot of epinephrine used in the treatment of acute allergic reaction.
An adrenaline rush comes at times of distress or facing fear. It can be triggered on demand with activities that terrify you, or a situation that feels dangerous like a movie. You can also aid an adrenaline rush by taking short rapid breathes and contracting muscles, as weightlifters and athletes often do. The jolt is healthy in small doses.
The chart below list the key neurotransmitters and their role in the human body. I’ve also shared some information from Wikipedia further below.
Glutamate is the most common neurotransmitter. Most neurons secrete glutamate. Glutamate is excitatory, meaning that the release of glutamate by one cell usually causes adjacent cells to fire an action potential. (Note: Glutamate is chemically identical to the MSG commonly used to flavor food.)
Acetylcholine assists motor function and is involved in memory.
Nitric oxide also functions as a neurotransmitter, despite being a gas. It is not grouped with the other neurotransmitters because it is not released in the same way.
Eicosanoids act as neuromodulators via the Arachidonic acid cascade.
The table below discusses the effect of drugs & alcohol on brain neurochemicals:
Brainwave States of the Brain
The human brain elicits brain wave signals across neurons which, along with neurochemicals and oxygen blood flow, helps carry out the various functions of the brain. Historically, these brain waves were studied by EEG medical instruments in patients suffering seizures. But today, it has been shown that certain brain waves are most optimal for specific types of activities. Ordinarily this was not something that we could control. But with more recent brain wave research in areas like yoga, music and drumming therapy, EEG biofeedback, and mindfulness, practice has shown that you can execute more control over your brain waves to be happier, healthier, and more productive. Still, brain wave science serves important roles in health and addiction disorders, where along with abnormalities in neurochemicals and behavior, abnormalities occur in brain waves which can be treated with a variety of biofeedback, meditation, music, and other therapies, which I cover in later sections.
Below, is information on the four (4) primary brain wave states recognized today. The chart (further below) identifies additional brain waves on the upper and lower ends of the range. The chart identifies brain waves associated with the primary neurotransmitters.
Beta Waves: frequency range between 12 and 30 Hz. They awaking awareness, extroversion, concentration, logical thinking, active conversation.
Alpha Waves: frequency range of 8-12 Hz arising from synchronous and coherent (in phase / constructive) electrical activity of thalamic pacemaker cells in humans. They are also called Berger’s wave in memory of the founder of EEG. They place the brain in states of relaxation times, non-arousal, meditation, hypnosis
Theta Waves: 4-8 Hz. Day dreaming, dreaming, creativity, meditation, paranormal phenomena, out of body experiences, ESP, shamanic journeys. A person driving on a freeway, who discovers that they can’t recall the last five miles, is often in a theta state – induced by the process of freeway driving. This can also occur in the shower or tub or even while shaving or brushing your hair. It is a state where tasks become so automatic that you can mentally disengage. The ideation that can take place during the theta state is often free flow and occurs without censorship or guilt. It is typically a very positive mental state.
Delta Waves: high amplitude brain waves between 0-4 hertz. Delta waves associated with deepest stages of sleep (3 and 4 NREM), known as slow-wave sleep (SWS), and aid in characterizing the depth of sleep.
Meditation increases activity in the left prefrontal cortex. The changes are stable over time. If you stop meditating for a while, the effect lingers.
In my work as a drum circle facilitator, I have been actively involved in altering brain waves since 2010. In group drumming, there is a group “brain wave entrainment” or BWE, where the brain waves of members of the group can act alike, in as little as 8-10 minutes of drumming. BWE in drumming was first identified by Dr. Barry Bitman et. al.
My 2015 blog (and web page) on Drumming in the Workplace describes how drumming can alter brain waves and lead to increased productivity, less stress, and healthier employees at work. The article below discusses how brain waves affect mental health.
Neuroscientists have made a correlation between an increase of alpha brain waves—either through electrical stimulation, mindfulness, or meditation—and ability to reduce depression & increase creative thinking. The issue is too much Beta wave activity esp related to stress. SEE brainwave feedback info on altering these waves.
(Wikipedia) Binaural tones are auditory processing artifacts, or apparent sounds, caused by specific physical stimuli. This effect was discovered in 1839 by Heinrich Wilhelm Dove and earned greater public awareness in the late 20th century based on claims coming from the alternative medicine community that binaural beats could help induce relaxation, meditation, creativity and other desirable mental states. The effect on the brainwaves depends on the difference in frequencies of each tone: for example, if 300 Hz was played in one ear and 310 in the other, then the binaural beat would have a frequency of 10 Hz.
The brain produces a phenomenon resulting in low-frequency pulsations in the amplitude and sound localization of a perceived sound when two tones at slightly different frequencies are presented separately, one to each of a subject’s ears, using stereo headphones. A beating tone will be perceived, as if the two tones mixed naturally, out of the brain. The frequencies of the tones must be below 1,000 hertz for the beating to be noticeable. The difference between the two frequencies must be small (less than or equal to 30 Hz) for the effect to occur; otherwise, the two tones will be heard separately, and no beat will be perceived.
Binaural beats are of interest to neurophysiologists investigating the sense of hearing.
Binaural beats reportedly influence the brain in more subtle ways through the entrainment of brainwaves and provide other health benefits such as pain relief.
Types of CAM/Alternative Medicine Therapies
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (CAM), a Division of NIH, provides the following:
Complementary and Integrative Health or CAM is the term created by NIH to identify alternative medicine therapies used together, or in adjunct to, traditional Western medicine.
The above list the most recognizable modalities. For modalities outside of NIH and Western medicine, more can be found under alternative or mind-body medicine. You can sign up for emails at: NCCIH@public.govdelivery.com
Western medicine has been critical of alternative modalities, offering very limited support to reports of effectiveness. But a few, they do endorse, namely meditation, biofeedback, acupuncture, music therapy, and some movement and proprioceptive therapies, i.e. equine or horse therapy. As much as I like Wikipedia, they exhibit a bias against alternative medicine, though perhaps some modalities deservingly so.
The major rhythmic disruption in PTSD and complex trauma is circadian rhythm; the 24 hr. sleep/wake cycle that follows the dark/light cycle of the sun’s rising and setting.
Types of Alternative Therapies in Addiction Treatment
The list of alternative medicine therapies below is a comprehensive list from AddictionRecoveryGuide.org – a very intriguing site. I cannot speak to the effectiveness of many of these in addiction treatment. Still, they are therapies that are in use in the treatment of addiction, and must have some effectiveness.
Auricular therapy – Auricular therapy is a healing practice dating back to the third century where the practitioner uses needles at acupuncture points on the outer ear that correspond to specific parts of the human body.
Breath Therapy – breathing techniques to help reduce stress, get more energy, feel better, and lose weight.
Creative Arts Therapy
Massage & Bodywork
Spirituality/Faith & Belief
Psychodynamic & Educational groups
Equine Assisted Psychotherapy – (EAP) incorporates horses for mental, behavioral health, and personal therapy. It is a collaborative effort between a licensed therapist and a horse professional to address treatment goals.
Step curriculum is designed to build competencies in four key areas recognized as vital to professional success.
Leadership & Management: Identify, communicate, and influence future outcomes, risks, and impacts. Recognize opportunities for yourself and for others. Implement successful organizational processes in areas such as planning, budgeting, and performance management.
Communication & Relationship Building: Assess situations, identify meaningful solutions, and communicate these solutions to others. Create collaborative environments and offer constructive feedback to help a team achieve its goals.
Personal & Professional Management: Apply self-management techniques to achieve career and personal goals using the process of life-long learning, self-development and managing behavior.
Entrepreneurialism: Identify professional surroundings as a potential marketplace. Acquire the tools to take advantage of one-of-a-kind opportunities within that marketplace, whether as an employee or an individual starting a business.
RESULTS: Available evidence suggests that music-based interventions may have a positive impact on pain, anxiety, mood disturbance, and quality of life in cancer patients. Advances in neurobiology may provide insight into the potential mechanisms by which music impacts these outcomes.
The somatosensory systems inform us about objects in our external environment through touch (i.e., physical contact with skin) and about the position and movement of our body parts (proprioception) through the stimulation of muscle and joints. The somatosensory systems also monitor the temperature of the body, external objects and environment, and provide information about painful, itchy and tickling stimuli.
Acupuncture – Auricular, or ear, s based on points in the ear are associated with specific parts of the body. Thus acupuncture needles placed in the ear can achieve a therapeutic effect anywhere in the body. Acupuncture is often used to reduce symptoms related to withdrawal and detoxification and may also have a role in relapse prevention by reducing anxiety, craving, irritability, the inability to focus, and muscle aches.
RESULTS: One patient did not complete treatment due to a major operation, the remaining 9 (90%) completed treatment. All patients (100%) completely stopped use of any street drugs and results remained stable for 6 months after end of treatment. Two years after end of intervention, 7 out of the 9 (78%) remained clean of use of heroin, but 2 (22%) returned to partial use; 6 (67%) of the patients returned to partial use of benzodiazepines, none (0%) showed permanent use of marijuana or cocaine.
Neurofeedback mimics Zen monks (meditation increased alpha, reduced to theta).
Dr. Thomas Budzynski found theta states made subjects ‘hyper-suggestable’ (as if in a hypnotic trance) to suggestions for positive changes to behaviour and attitudes.
Brain Wave Biofeedback* (neurofeedback) – Patients learn to alter their brain wave patterns. Training involves restoring a normal pattern of alpha and theta waves disturbed by long term substance abuse. Brainwave biofeedback has shown dramatic success in several studies to prevent relapses from drug and alcohol addiction.
Alpha-theta Biofeedback: “Peniston Protocol” – great results, uses EEG
The bulk of literature to date regarding EEG biofeedback of addictive disorders is focused on alpha-theta biofeedback. The technique involves the simultaneous measurement of occipital alpha (8–13 Hz) and theta (4–8 Hz) and feedback by separate auditory tones for each frequency representing amplitudes greater than pre set thresholds. The subject is encouraged to relax and to increase the amount of time the signal is heard, that is to say, to increase the amount of time that the amplitude of each defined bandwidth exceeds the threshold. A variety of equipment and software has been used to acquire, process, and filter these signals, and there are differences in technique inherent with equipment and software.
The protocol described by Peniston at the Fort Lyons VA is similar to Twemlow and Elmer Green at the Menninger Clinic, with two additions, i.e., (1) temperature training and (2) script. Peniston introduced temperature biofeedback training as a preconditioning relaxation exercise, along with an induction script to be read at the start of each session. This protocol (described as follows) has become known as the “Peniston Protocol” and has become the focus of research in subsequent studies. Subjects are first taught deep relaxation by skin temperature biofeedback for a minimum of five sessions that additionally incorporates autogenic phrases. Peniston also used the criteria of obtaining a temperature of 94° before moving on to EEG biofeedback. Participants then are instructed in EEG biofeedback and in an eyes closed and relaxed condition, receive auditory signals from an EEG apparatus using an international site O1 single electrode. A standard induction script employing suggestions to relax and “sink down” into reverie is read. When alpha (8–12 Hz) brainwaves exceed a preset threshold, a pleasant tone is heard, and by learning to voluntarily produce this tone, the subject becomes progressively relaxed. When theta brainwaves (4–8 Hz) are produced at a sufficiently high amplitude, a second tone is heard, and the subject becomes more relaxed and according to Peniston, enters a hypnagogic state of free reverie and high suggestibility.
Applied kinesiology use the principle of muscle strength to evaluate subconscious thoughts, body energy, and meridians for signs of manifesting physical and mental health disorders. Seems to also access meridian & hypnosis mechanisms.
*critical of AK per American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology
Definition: A manual muscle test in AK is conducted by having the patient resist using the target muscle or muscle group while the practitioner applies a force. A smooth response is sometimes referred to as a “strong muscle” and a response that was not appropriate is sometimes called a “weak response”. This is not a raw test of strength, but rather a subjective evaluation of tension in the muscle and smoothness of response, taken to be indicative of a difference in spindle cell response during contraction. These differences in muscle response are claimed to be indicative of various stresses and imbalances in the body.
The mind can only really think of one thing at a time. When you concentrate your attention on one thing, you inevitably engage the parallel act of ignoring other things.
The February 2015 study “Attention Drives Synchronization of Alpha and Beta Rhythms between Right Inferior Frontal and Primary Sensory Neocortex,” was published in the Journal of Neuroscience.
The researchers at Brown identified how the brain achieves optimal inattention by changing the synchronization of brainwaves between different brain regions. The researchers hope that by harnessing the power to ignore, that people with chronic pain will have new cognitive tools for reducing pain.
People can learn how to manipulate their alpha rhythms in the somatosensory cortex as they switch their attentional focus though mindfulness training. The results of their latest research expand our understanding of how mindfulness might possibly operate using the mechanism of redirecting attention via control of alpha rhythms in the brain, which can help people ignore depressive thoughts.
Two opposite ways to forget bad memories. During memory suppression, a brain structure called dorsolateral prefrontal cortex inhibited activity in the hippocampus, a region critical for recalling past events. Understanding these mechanisms may help understand disorders of memories, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
If suppression doesn’t work, you might want to put on your “rose-tinted glasses” and try substitution by using your imagination to pretend you’re in a different place or experiencing something else.
The researchers at Cambridge found that memory substitution was supported by caudal prefrontal cortex and midventrolateral prefrontal cortex. These are two regions typically involved in bringing specific memories into awareness in the presence of distracting memories.
Meditation significantly improved functional connectivity in the brain’s network active during introspective thought such as retrieving memories. They also observed trends of less atrophy in the hippocampus.
Fadel Zeiden is exploring the specific brain mechanisms that influence meditation’s ability to reduce perceptions of pain and the experience of anxiety.
Best CAM for Pain Management
Yoga, Acupuncture, EEG biofeedback, Massage Therapy, Tai Chi, Deep Tissue Massage
A new analysis of data from the 2012 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) has found that most American adults have experienced some level of pain, from brief to more lasting (chronic) pain, and from relatively minor to more severe pain. The analysis helps to unravel the complexities of a Nation in pain. It found that an estimated 25.3 million adults (11.2 percent) experience chronic pain—that is, they had pain every day for the preceding 3 months. Nearly 40 million adults (17.6 percent) experience severe levels of pain. Those with severe pain are also likely to have worse health status.
23.4 million adults (10.3 percent) experience a lot of pain.
126 million adults (55.7 percent) reported some type of pain in the 3 months prior to the survey.
Pain is one of the leading reasons Americans turn to complementary health approaches such as yoga, massage, and meditation—which may help manage pain and other symptoms that are not consistently addressed by prescription drugs and other conventional treatments.
Reduced gray matter volume can lead to memory impairment, emotional problems, and decreased cognitive functioning. Hyper-connectivity of white matter tracts between brain areas associated with negative emotions and pain perception can hardwire these corresponding states of mind.
The researchers used diffusion tensor brain imaging to analyze gray matter volume and the integrity of white matter tracts. Bushnell hypothesizes that increased size and connectivity of the insular cortex is probably the most important brain factor regarding changes in an individual’s pain tolerance and thresholds.
Yoga appears to bulk up gray matter through neurogenesis and strengthen white matter connectivity through neuroplasticity. After assessing the impact of brain anatomy on pain reduction, Bushnell believes that gray matter changes in the insula or internal structures of the cerebral cortex are the most significant players involved in chronic pain.
Rest & recreation – many of the massage therapies plus eg. reading, fishing
Social Integration – BWE, help love & trust
Movement Therapy, proprioception, athletics, Tai chi, basketball (adding rewards, fun sounds to baskets)
Bright light therapy is the treatment method most often recommended for patients with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a form of depression that occurs as a result of reduced exposure to sunlight in the fall, winter and spring.
This blog discusses mHealth mobile phone apps and accommodations for living with hydrocephalus.
I initially wrote this in 2015 under the title “Spread Awareness of Hydrocephalus on Rare Disease Day.” But then following several large updates of content, on April 18, 2016, I changed the title to “Mobile Apps and Accommodations for Living with Hydrocephalus,” which I feel more aply represents its content now. I discuss many of the everyday challenges faced by persons living with hydrocephalus, and discuss my experiences with specific mHealth mobile appsand accommodations-solutions needed for everyday living. Hydrocephalus is a neurological disorder where CSF (cerebral spinal fluid) is not sufficiently cleared from within and around the surface of the brain – from a variety of etiologies. The fluid then abnormally collects in the brain’s ventricle compartment thereby exerting abnormal and often dangerous pressures on critical structures of the brain. It is normal to have CSF in the brain, as it is produced in the choroid plexus at a rate of about 20cc per hour. It’s primary purpose is in regulatiion of blood pressure (BP) and intracranial pressure (ICP). It also circulates up & down the spine and helps to circulate needed nutrients throughout the brain. Hydrocephalus then develops when the brain is not able to clear CSF fluid at the same rate it is produced, more often resulting in swelling of the ventricles – except in NPH, or normal pressure hydrocephalus, where there may be limited or no swelling, and normal amounts of pressure. Hydrocephalus occurs in utero and shortly after birth in 1 of every 1000 births. It also occurs in children from cysts and tumors, and somewhat also in adults. It occurs post trauma through subarachnoid bleeding, and idiopathicly, or naturally, from anatomical malformations of the brain and brain-stem, and from aging. Its overall prevalence in the U.S. is estimated at about 40,000 to 50,000 new cases each year. But due to its broad spectrum of causes or etiologies, hydrocephalus has been accepted into the rare diseases database. Many scientists continue to refer to hydrocephalus as a rare disease because of its association with genetic birth defects. The illustration below identifies where CSF is produced and circulated within the brain.
DolleCommunications is my neurosciences blog I launched in 2010 after becoming affected by hydrocephalus following a 1992 auto accident and concussion. The photo of me below was taken in 1998 after one of the shunt surgeries where I had used my newly developed DiaCeph Test mHealth method to help direct replacement of the needed medical device components on my CNS shunt system.
A CNS (central nervous system) shunt is the most common form of treatment for hydrocephalus. It is a two or three piece catheter with a one-way pressure valve that more often drains into the abdomen, or peritoneum, where it is termed a VP shunt. Alternately, it can drain into the heart (VA shunt), or draw fluid off the spinal canal into the abdomen (LP shunt). Over the last 20 years, a newer surgical procedure, a 3rd ventriculostomy, has been developed where a small opening is made in one of the ventricles (usually the 3rd), which if successful, allows for proper circulation and clearance around a an aqueduct blockage and can negate dependance on a CNS shunt. Only 10-15 percent of those with hydrocephalus will benefit from this procedure.
It is common knowledge today that shunt technology is in need of modernization. Present day treatment outcomes (esp. with CNS shunts) often leave individuals with significant quality of life challenges with no shunt diagnostics to provide early warning shunt malfunction or accidental reprogramming, which is all to common and can result in brain damage and/or blindness. Since my onset in 1992, I’ve undergone 12 shunt revisions. Living with hydrocephalus and especially a CNS shunt presents a number of key challenges, most notably, shunt malfunctions and corrective surgery, but also frequent headaches, cognitive and memory difficulties, challenges with balance and hand/eye coordination, and difficulty adapting to a noisy and complex world where the necessary accommodations are widely unavailable today. I discuss some of the challenges and much needed accommodaitons for hydrocephalus further below.
I became involved as an FDA patient advocate and inventor in hydrocephalus several years after my onset of hydrocephalus. As a patient advocate, I authored a critical 1996 citizen’s petition to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), plus made recommendations at the 1999 STAMP Conference in Bethesda MD. I’ve also written FDA position papers and recommendations for the oversight of shunt technology, and spoke at the 1999 STAMP Conference in Bethesda, Maryland.
After writing my FDA petition on CNS anti-siphon shunts in 1996, my research led me to design and patent a non-invasive monitoring system for hydrocephalus, I named the DiaCeph Test. It initially was to run on a PDA. But I could not raise the necessary funding to make it. The DiaCeph Test today could be made into a mobile phone data and text app. Most of the development costs today is still from burdensome FDA guidance on mHealth apps. If it were available, it would revolutionize the care of hydrocephalus.
In 2009, after many years of patient advocacy and answering inquiriesfrom affected patients, I began offering patient consults for a fee. Most of my patients have been those affected by complex hydrocephalus, and with unresolved challenges. Unresolved complaints and unsatisfactory outcomes are common in hydrocephalus – as high as 70 percent of all patients with hydrocephalus.
I am also very involved with weather apps and barometric pressure monitoring. A link to my primary blog on this is listed further below.
My biggest new discovery in this space comes from a study I undertook in 2017 with the MigraineX ear plugs used in the management of headache, but also in sound suppression. I found that insertion of MigraineX ear plugs before, and even after a harmful sound exposure has occurred, can lessen the associated headache, irritability, cognitive, and SPD complaints by 50% or more. So I carry my MigraineX ear plugs with me all the time to manage sound exposure & associated SPD complaints. They are particularly helpful amid noise from construction, machinery, malls, restaurants, theatre halls, and more. They sell for about $12 on Amazon and at many drug stores.
I have also been undertaking barometric pressure monitoring now with my Samsung phone’s built in barometric pressure sensor. The built in sensor can display sharp short term changes in pressure that weather sites & apps do not display. Most newer high end smart phones have this sensor built in. But you need an app to get the display. For this, I currently use uBarometer Pro. I have been able to correlate these short pressure changes as triggers of pain and headache.
The web link (web page) below describes how to obtain a consult for hydrocephalus, shunt monitoring, and mHealth monitoring with custom apps, and DiaCeph forms and user instructions.
In 2004, I became involved in drum circlesafter earlier playing piano, vocal work, and some stage & film. I initially used piano as a form of therapy for my challenges, then later guitar, then in 2004 percussion. I immediately realized a call to become more involved in drumming, and I began to take classes, and eventually help put on drum circle events. Today, I am very involved in drum circles and drumming for the brain & wellness and for disorders like hydrocephalus.
On Sept. 24th, 2015, I held two drumming workshops at the 2015 NHF Patient Power Conference in Anaheim, CA. My methods help with others with balance, coordination, cognition, and communications challenges. SEE info in the flyer below.
One of the more problematic challenges with hydrocephalus, and most neurological disorders, is with cognitive accessibilityand it’s related sensory processing disorder, or SPD. These challenges are often disabiling and occur in hydrocephalus and neurological and learning disorders such as autism, ADHD, PTSD, Parkinson’s, stroke, post tumor, addiction, and even migraine. I have written about both fairly extensively. And own the domain CognitiveAccessibility.org– which I am yet to host a web site. I currently have it pointing to a supporting temporary page on my main web site.
COGNITIVE ACCESSIBILITY describes the array of accommodations and protections needed today by affected individuals. Without these protections, cognitive dysfunction and often one’s mental health state are easily exacerbated (made worse) by exposure and stress of unhealthful cognitive triggers. In fact, today there is a large lawsuit brought by families with autism against Disney World for failing to offer cognitive disability access to park rides. The science is real. I’ve experienced thousands of first hand accounts.
Common cognitive triggers include loud TV & radio commercials, loud helter skelter music, noisy construction equipment and machinery, bright lights, and powerful odors. When these triggers are present and not managed properly in public places, they restrict access by persons susceptable to it. Today we know that mental health and physical brain changes go hand in hand, meaning, one affects the other. This next blog describes many of the key sensory challenges in sensory processing disorder (SPD) and sensory challenges in hydrocephalus, and related disorders. Below, is also a recent diagram on the brain’s mechanisms involved in sensory processing disorder.
The protections cited are for public facilities where the triggers can often prevent an affected individual from safe and healthful use. It is said be a part of current disability law (i.e. autism v. Disney lawsuit). But rarely is enforced. Most people are unaware of the science and cause and effect of the triggers to behavioral melt-downs. In addittion to sensory protections, there needs to be better understanding of directions on UIs of web sites, signage, directions, product labels, etc. Today, I find you’re more likely to see a foreign language accommodation, than a cognitive disability one.
This blog features updated information on TSA Meet and Assist services for passengers with disabilities, and safety information on airport scanners for safe use by persons with programmable shunts for hydrocephalus. I also cover use of TSA Meet and Assist services for persons with cognitive disabilities, and information on the Air Carrier Access Act.
Airport scanners had earlier worried me as I live with a programmable CNS shunt for hydrocephalus, and I have been over-exposed to radiation from CT brain scans. With my Codman Certas CNS shunt valve, I do not go thru the metal detectors at airports or anywhere (even though some state magnetic field is safe for my shunt). I recommend that if you have any type of programmable CNS shunt, that you do not go thru metal detectors.
I’ve since updated this blog with newer information on the safe use of airport scanners.
The next two blogs list helpful information on mobile appsfor sensory processing disorder, as well as apps I use and recommend for living with hydrocephalus.
Perhaps my most creative public outreach is the fun HydroPowered.orgweb site for hydrocephalus. I created this in 2013 as a fun platform to share art, technology, and super-hero stories among those affected by hydrocephalus.
If I’ve left out any my blogs or apps, please let me know. If I may help you with hydrocephalus mobile apps, hydrocephalus consults, or drumming therapy for hydrocephalus, or if you are interested in furthering the development of the DiaCeph Test or other mobile apps for hydrocephalus, let me know. Contact me via my info below. Feel free to CLICK and SAVE my contact JPEG card.
Neuroscientist and percussionist Stephen Dolle says drums & drum beats can be used in practice drills to help NFL football teams with timing, on-field communications, and snap count, and overcome some of the effects of crowd noise at NFL football stadiums, like the Seattle Seahawks, New Orleans Saints, Kansas City Chiefs, and Denver Broncos. Today, many stadiums help create a scientific home field advantage, or 12th Man, design and amplification of fan noise in their stadiums.
Humans (and animals to varying degrees) are effected by sound through the brain’s sensory processing. Sound affects in both positive and negative ways, depending on the type, loudness, and patterning of the sound. As music, sound was shown to create favorable health effects in the earlier reported study of the “Mozart Effect,” where cognitive function improved after listening to classical music. It’s effect is largely based upon entrainment of the listener’s brain waves to the waveform of classical music.
But on the opposite end of the spectrum, sound can create disruptive and harmful effects upon the brain when it becomes too loud and disordered and interferes with healthy cognitive processing. And in sports stadiums for football, fan noise is used to both disrupt on-field communications, and interfere in the cognitive focus of the visiting team. Given the right mix and decibel of sound, you can essentially incapacitate players on the field. Or at the very least, make it very difficult for them to communicate and focus.
On a team level, players must be able to execute a certain amount of verbal or audible calls and dialogue. And it is more than just communications, it helps the team get into a tempo of plays and team connectedness, termed brain wave entrainment, or BWE. Groups typically rely upon audible communications to establish BWE. In many cases music is used , i.e. fitness classes, team practices. When participants are able to play an instrument, such as a drum, their engagement tends to have a more dramatic effect in the entrainment process. Of course, any intervening sounds or lights different from the communal BWE pulse or sound, becomes disruptive to the group connection and BWE.
However, this BWE disruption can be offset by training/playing to rhythmic pulses or rhythms, while engaging the body in rhythmic movement. In this way, “movement” is used rather than sound to establish the BWE and tempo. If a football team can establish their BWE during a game without the need for sound, they become much less dependent on audible sound.
The U.S. military for many years has used chants, drums, and recorded sounds during training to help syncopate on-field operations and communications. Football play is similar in that on-field timing, syncopation, and communication is critical to proper execution of play. In football, the physiology of play and movement is also described in terms of “proprioception,” or memory of muscle movement. And there are cognitive factors too to consider in play execution, where crowd noise can interfere with communications and cognitive reasoning. But rhythmic cues can be used in place of audible sound for communications. And once a team has established its BWE and tempo, rhythmic cues as communications would be much easier to utilize.
There are also “brain wave states” to consider during on field play. Typically, a player’s brain wave state would be at a faster “Beta” rate as can be seen in the image below. However, the offset to this would be to remain more calm and focused, and this type of mental or cognitive reasoning is more commonly seen during the “Alpha” wave state of meditation. In this state, an individual’s memory and recall is more enhanced, and it would be safe to say that athletes who get into a zone are undoubtedly more in a Beta wave state than their player counter-parts. A great deal of research has gone into being able to moderate one’s brain wave state for optimal cognitive performance. I’ve also written quite a bit about this in my blog on Drumming for Employee Engagement.
In 2014, the NFL fined the Atlanta Falcons for their role in piping in stadium noise. Today, stadiums are designed to redirect crowd noise toward the playing field, that create adverse conditions for the visiting team. This has since been named the “12th man.” Visiting teams have found the noise levels so loud as to interfere with on-field communications, snap count, syncopation of play, and cognitive focus.
In military combat, sound is regularly used to break the will of prisoners to obtain sensitive information. Is it torture? Depends who you ask. In ordinary life, individuals who suffer from neurological disorders, post concussion syndrome, PTSD, hydrocephalus, and related sensory processing disorder are uniquely susceptible to the ill-effects of high decibel, repetitive, and white noise type of sound. For me, it was a 1992 brain injury that left me with hydrocephalus, that led me to undertake brain and music research. For me and many others, sensory dysfunction occurs at lower sound levels.
My earlier research with sound and sensory processing disorders involved a Metronome sensory processing study I published on my web site in 2002. I discovered how rhythmic patterns in sound determined largely how we process and assimilate it, and that repetitive and unstructured sound could trigger neurologic sequela, referred to today as sensory processing disorder, or SPD. Conversely, I showed how “melodic patterns” in sound such as in music or drum beats, could improve one’s intolerance to sound. These SPD neurological sequela are said to be quite common in post concussion disorder, and accordingly, I would speculate also in the developing stages of CTE. In fact, I’d go so far as to state that SPD with sound is likely the No. 1 trigger of mental health behavioral meltdowns in persons suffering from post concussion and CTE disorders, with stress due to PTSD induced health challenges, as No. 2. I published my blog below detailing my findings and solutions for managing sensory processing disorder in 2014. And continue to update it with new developments in SPD and brain health.
The U.S. military has been training special forces by subjecting them to high levels of disorganized and repetitive sound, and instructing them how to find a syncopating pattern within the mix of the noise, to maintain their cognitive focus. They probably use electronic & recorded audio, but this could be done with drum beats and musical instruments as well. The brain science behind this compensatory mechanism is, if you can connect with a pattern or rhythm in the sound, you’ll better withstand its ill-effects, drop in cognitive function, mental focus, and breakage of your will and psyche. The same mechanism is applicable in pain management, where the role of the psyche is critical.
There is considerable supporting research for how our brains & bodies are well adapted for rhythmic patterning as seen in all movement, athletic skill, verbal & non-verbal communications, and cognitive reasoning (analytical & relational reasoning). Researchers established the benefits of listening to melodic music in the Mozart Effect.
We’ve noted that drumming and playing percussion instruments (drum circles) can help offset the ill-effects of loud repetitive sound and white noise in persons who are sensitive to sound. NFL teams could use these methods to help players suffering from sensory processing disorder & PTSD complaints associated with repeat concussions. From our research and experience with neurological disorders and sensory processing sequela, we created the slogan, “ENGAGE THE RHYTHMS OF YOUR BRAIN.” Why engage the rhythms of your brain? How does is it all work?
Drum play during football practice would help teams with timing, sensory processing, communications, brain wave entrainment, and noise challenges during actual games.
I’ve used drumming in a variety of ways to improve movement, balance, coordination, cognitive focus, sound sensitivity, non-verbal communications, confidence, and overcoming adversity. I write about mobile sound apps in another blog.
Please contact me per the information below.
Stephen Dolle Neuroscientist, mHealth Inventor & Drum Circle Facilitator Email: contact[at]dollecommunications[dot]com
Decibel meter apps are helpful in managing the ill effects of sound exposure in brain injury, hydrocephalus, ADHD, PTSD, and related sensory processing disorders. Sound Meter is best app on Android. The Pro version is $.99. Though either is good. SPLnFFT is said to be best app on iPhone. Many are accurate enough for these purposes. Plus, what you really need, is comparative analysis of sound to medical sequela in the same app.
The science in support of monitoring sound level exposure comes amid findings that “sound” can trigger medical sequela, and result in a combative child or even adult out in public. The sequela typically ares headache, nausea, decreased cognition, irritability, and behavioral outbursts, and occurs in persons suffering from a variety of neurological injury & disorders. Light, motion, and scents are also triggers. The sensitivity, and type of trigger, does vary somewhat from person to person.
The medical condition for this is termed “sensory processing disorder” or SPD, and sometimes termed “sensory integration disorder,” and these tend to follow brain injury, neurological surgery (numerous ones including hydrocephalus and tumor), and many types of neurological disorders.
At any given time, the effected person is vulnerable to a range and type of sound triggers. Yet, this sensitivity and vulnerability often may not be known until AFTER the exposure. Often all it takes is 30 secs of problematic sound exposure to set off a sequel of SPD complaints. Then, you’re dealing with a medical problem.
Certainly the big ones like loud machinery, music, and room noise are predictable. But it is the not so loud and obvious exposures that’ll get you. And NOT knowing at any given time what your sensitivity or threshold is. And this comes from trial & experience.
I recommend downloading one of these apps and using it regularly for a couple of weeks to learn of your LOWEST threshold decibel levels – for when you’re not feeling well, and for various venues. Then, you can do things with more confidence in that you know your thresholds and can take the necessary interventions SOONER to avoid an ill spell or “melt down” in public. Today I learned too late, after being near a store playing loud overhead music. It was registering over 80 db on my Sound Meter app. I had not checked the sound level when I arrived. Once your system is triggered, it is often too late for other interventions or measures, and you’re likely going to have to leave that venue.
Unfortunately, current apps do not measure frequency distribution or sharp spikes in sound. Sound between 5000 Hz – 10,000 Hz is often problematic for individuals suffering with SPDs. The other causative elements includes sharp spikes in decibel level, and disordered sound presenting as “white noise.” If you, or a family member, suffers from sensory processing disorder, you know what I mean.
I undertook a sound sensory study in 2002 using a metronome to evaluate SPD complaint responses to various rhythmic patterns, and I was able to show that the component in sound most responsible for SPD complaints was “lack of rhythmic pattern.” My findings explain why white noise, or room noise, is so problematic. Read my full study below:
There are many treatments today that have found varying degrees of success in raising a person’s threshold to SPDs. They include: EMDR therapy, music therapy, group drumming (in which I have conducted research), bio feedback, mindfulness, basketball, meditation, occupational therapy. A variety of mild barbiturate medicines find use as well. I can’t say enough about the importance of proper rest & diet, managing stress, and drinking plenty of water. Vestibular exercises, meditation, mindfulness, and biofeedback therapies seem to help raise an affected persons sound intolerance.
Once an exposure and SPD medical sequel has begun, your options include: 1) have the individual stay focused & “engaged” in an activity 2) insert quality ear plugs (suggest musician’s ear plugs) 3) remove the affected person from the triggering noise source 4) administer barbituate, pain or calming medication 5) force hydration preferable with water
On June 4, 2015, I published an extensive blog on basketball – which includes methods in shooting baskets, mindfulness, biofeedback & relaxation, and including drumming with basketball – which helps the brain, movement disorders, intolerance to sound, post concussion syndrome, and relieves stress.
Understanding Sound Sensory Processing & your Intolerance Level
If you suffer from sound sensory processing difficulties, I suggest you try one of the available decibel meter apps. I use the Smart Tools Pro Sound Meter pictured below. It also has a built in Vibrometer to evaluate motion say on a boat or car. You need to become familiar with your sound threshold range and intolerance, and screen typical levels at places you visit. You’ll need to add further consideration if there is machinery or other problematic noise that the individual would normally not process very well. All it takes is 30 secs of a problematic sound exposure to set off a sequel of SPD complaints. Develop good rules of practice.
Call for a Sound Sensory Processing Scale & Algorithm of Measurement
The current challenge is that these apps only measure level of volume. What we need, is a sound distribution EQ scale to equate how the brain processes sound (along with volume), which would require a convening of neurologists to scientists study this relationship, and establish a new sound scale to include the difficulty of processing of sound distributions. Sound engineers already know a great deal about the distribution or EQ of sound. To establish a sound processing scale, we would only need to equate various EQ sound patterns with the level of difficulty of processing by the brain. There are already sound identification apps that can identify patterns in music and ID them by song name. Two very popular apps are Soundhound and Shazam. We could use these existing sensors and algorithms to ID sound as very unforavorable vs acceptable in terms of ability to be processed by the brain. Persons with brain injury, learning and neurological disorders, and SPD (sensory processing disorder) have a diminished capacity to process sound, which I believe pares the degree and location of deficits in the brain. So, I have proposed the development of a sound processing scale and algorithm.
This new sound processing scale would encompass:
1. decibel volume and rate of change between volume levels (i.e. spikes) 2. EQ frequency distribution of the sound 3. rhythmic distribution and synchronization of the sound (i.e. white noise)
I host a larger blog on sensory processing challenges with examples of problematic sounds of machinery, etc. Just follow the link below. I try and keep these blogs up to date as time permits. My biggest new discovery in SPD comes after a study I undertook almost two years ago with the MigraineX ear plugs used in the management of headache, but also in sound suppression. I found that insertion of the MigraineX ear plugs before, and even after a harmful sound exposure has occurred, can lessen the associated headache, irritability, cognitive, and SPD complaints by 50% or more. Yes, I said SPD. So I carry the MigraineX ear plugs with me all the time. They are particularly helpful amid noise from construction, machinery, malls, restaurants, theatre halls, and more. They sell for about $12 on Amazon and many drug stores.
Secondly, I have been undertaking new barometric pressure monitoring utilizing my Samsung phone’s built in barometric pressure sensor. The built in sensor can display sharp Short term changes in pressure that weather sites often do not display. Most newer high end smart phones have this sensor built in. But you need to download an app to get the display. For this, I use the uBarometer Pro.
If any app developers are reading this, I’d love to collaborate with you on building an SPD intollerance sound EQ app for screening of problematic sound. I can advise scientifically and in the UI (user interface, I have a good tech bkg-see page below). I’d like to couple an app with a Melon or NeuroSky EEG headband to try and correlate changes on EEG waveform with reported SPD complaints. SEE my extensive work in hydrocephalus monitoring and DiaCeph Test app design. ADA laws with respect to sound protection for persons with SPDs is termed “cognitive accessibility.” There is an interesting legal case between families of children with autism and Disney, regarding Disney’s cancellation of the handicap pass to circumvent affected visitors standing in long lines, thereby forcing affected children to stand in line amid commotion and noise, which is unhealthful and can trigger behavioral outburst and a number of medical sequela in SPDs.
I am advocating for a new sound processing standard to encapsulate the brain’s role in processing sound. Persons suffering neurological disorders and from SPDs have a diminshed capacity to process sensory information, sound being the most common issue.
Please visit my web site and contact me accordingly. Best method of contact is email. Stephen Dolle Neuroscientist, mHealth Inventor & Drum Circle Facilitator Email: contact[at]dollecommunications[dot]com Hydrocephalus Survivor w/ 12 Shunt Revisions DolleCommunications.com
This blog discusses the science and everyday managment of children and adults who live with neurological & learning disorders, PTSD, and other disorders associated with sensory processing disorder (SPD) and intolerance to sound, lights, and scents. In these affected individuals, sensory overexposure often results in medical sequela ranging from headache to dizziness, irritability, behavioral changes, descreased cognition, nausea, vomiting, and fatigue. In later stages, it can trigger “siezures.” Sound sensativity affects about 20 percent of the population. Problematic sensory processing disorder affects 5-10 percent of the population.
Sensory processing disorder is related to dysfunction of any of the five (5) senses. It was earlier termed sensory integration disorder (SID), hyperacusis, sensory overstimulation, and sensory overload. Sensory problems and SPD commonly follow neurological disorders and brain injury spanning hydrocephalus, post TBI, post tumor resection, multiple sclerosis, migraine disorders, drug & alcohol addiction, and PTSD, ADHD, ADD, and autism spectrum learning disabilities.
I became an affected SPD sufferer after onset hydrocephalus in 1992 from a head injury. Since 1995, I’ve undertaken research and implemented my findings in neurological consults (hydrocephalus monitoring, patient consults) and in drumming therapy and drum circle workshops with a wide array of health populations. While my specialty is mhealth, medical devices, and cognition, I am also involved in general health, movement disorders, and wellness and write about my findings online. I am of the opinion that sound, light, motion, and stress act as “sensory triggers” and are responsible for the high prevalence of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) and mental health challenges today. Imaging studies show that PTSD produces pathological changes in the brains of children. So, no doubt PTSD and sensory overload is wreaking havak on the brains of adults, including, police officers and those living in inner cities with high rates of crime.
The web page linked below provides a nice overview of the five (5) senses. Typically 1 to 3 of these are compromised in sensory processing disorder (SPD).
It has only been about 15 years (about year 2000) that SPD and sensory processing dysfunction have really been recognized. So we have a long way to go. Testing and documentation, education, and protections remain years behind what they should be.
I attribute this in part to the government’s earlier efforts to refute PTSD from military combat, and in recognizing autism as a disorder in of itself. In autism, there is also much debate and criticism of a causal relationship with childhood vaccines. And this has not helped to further care and treatment of SPD disorders.
My onset of SPD was gradual and often followed my shunt malfunctions and surgical treatment of my hydrocephalus. By the late 1990s, I understood SPD as a diminished capacity to process auditory, touch, visual, olfactory, and gustatory sensory stimuli. And over time, I began to view the challenges of SPD in terms of access & accommodations to public places, and even more broadly, cognitive accommodations with web sites, store displays, and user instructions. Today, the broader terminology for these considerations is cognitive accessibility, where I have subsequently set up a web page at www.CognitiveAccessibility.org
This next study below is list breakthrough research on sensory processing disorder (SPD) where scientists were able to document the areas of the brain affected by SPD. Thie image below is taken from their study.
My name is Stephen Dolleand I began this blog in 2010. I developed hydrocephalus 4 weeks following an auto accident in 1992. In the years that followed, I had many challenges to overcome, and became involved in Food & Drug Administration advocacy that led to my designing the DiaCeph Test for mHealth monitoring of hydrocephalus.
My SPD challenges weren’t so apparent from the start due to all the challenges. It was probably year 3 that I had begun to notice how sounds and visual stimuli (lights & erratic movements) could bring on a neurological event. Young children chasing birds would really get me. For sound, it was just busy environments that bothered me. I took a few more years before I was able to identify specifically what sounds and how they could bring on a neurological event – which I term the SPD effect. This can vary a bit from person to person. But typcially you’ll see a decrease in cognition, an increase in irritability and behavior change, headache, and changes in balance and orientation.
From 1992 to 2013, I underwent twelve CNS shunt revisions. In 2015, I was also diagnosed with pachymeningitis, and it has further aggravated my SPD challenges.
It was my astute neurologist in 1999 that shared new research on sound hypersensitivity, and instructed me with tips on how to help manage it. Back then, it was often termed “overstimulation.” And it then led to my undertaking a critical SPD study.
In 2002, I undertook my first SPD Study, where I employed both the Aerex Balance Padand the Boss BR-8 Recorder (w/ metronome) to evaluate touch, visual, and sound sensory challenges. I took my materials to a hydrocephalus conference at St. Joseph’s/CHOC Hospital in Orange, CA, and also to England Physical & Balance Therapy in Garden Grove, CA, where I was undergoing vestibular therapy. I published my study results on my web page below.
I employed the Boss BR-8 recorder and metronome to study the effect of sound on cognition in persons with hydrocephalus, plus interviewed about 20 individuals claiming to be affected by sound intolerance. I learned that the adverse effects of sound was more due to “rhythmic structure” of sound, or degree of syncopation or melody, versus volume or tempo.
I used the Airex balance pad to evaluate gaze dependency of balance in individuals with hydrocephalus. What I learned here, was that patients who were unable to maintain balance on the pad while focusing on a moving target (business card on a stick), termed gaze dependency, reported more problematic chronic headaches and SPD complaints. I concluded that additional deficits were likely causing the decreased sensory processing. I felt that the additional deficits might also help predict poor outcomes after the insertion of a CNS shunt for hydrocephalus.
Later in my study, I found that melodic and highly syncopated sound patterns seemed to offer a therapeutic effect to some of these complaints – as a mechanism in support of music therapy. I created an “audiotape” of melodic metronome beats and piano sequences from my Yamaha keyboard, and would play and listen to this audiotape 2-3 times per week. It seemed to help my sound sensory issues.
I published my study on my web site, and it has been hosted there since 2003.
It is common to experience difficulty with sound, light, and motion after brain injury and onset of neurological disorder. Perhaps the most problematic is offensive types of unsyncopated and white noise sound, which is everywhere today in busy urban areas.
You can simplify sound sensory processing into the “melodic” Mozart Effect on the healthy end of the spectrum, and tortuous repetitive sounds on the unhealthful end of the spectrum. Repetitive unhealthful sounds can make even normal people ill at the right decibel and sound pattern. In fact, sound is still today used to extract information from prisoners during wartime, and it plays a significant role in football & basketball.
In 2014, I published the above provocative blog on SPD and drumming for football, and detail how the ill effects of sound plays a role in college and NFL football. I discuss sensory and cognitive challenges from fan & stadium noise, and methods for using drum beats to help play call synchronization, player movements, and communications.
My Introduction to Drumming & Drum Circles
It was in 2004 that I became involved in hand drumming and drum circles from my personal and therapeutic activities with music. I had no thought or expectation that drumming would help my SPD challenges. But after about a year of regular drumming, I discovered that my SPD sound sensitivity was improved. I re-examined my research and proposed that group drumming might help affected individuals to better organize sound, like a form of physical therapy for sound processing. My company web page below discusses by durrent work with drumming for general health and neurological disorders.
Signals traverse our brains in wave form patterns like those seen on EEG tests, and there are literally millions of signals traversing brains daily. As our brains process signals in wave patterns, so do we physically move about in wave forms or rhythmic patterns, and one area where the two overlap today is in “proprioception,” where our bodies are able to remember specific types of movement patterns, i.e. in sports, dance, and this then is integrated into whatever sport, dance, or social activity we are doing.
As I became involved with drum circles and drumming for the brain, I discovered how drumming can help retrain the brain’s ability to process unsyncopated sound by engaging the individual in disordered sound, and allowing them to integrate an order to the beats played – in essence, serving as physical or occupational therapy for the brain. I then began to study audible rhythm’s role in balance and movement, cognition, mental health, team-building, and stress reduction.
In February 2016, I updated this earlier blog on my experience with drumming therapyin cerebral palsy and autism, plus I’ve put on quite a few drumming workshopsfor a number of neurological disorders. I link all of my efforts together as best I can.
Below is the autism article in support of the autistic boy in the video at the mall. This story and short video on sensory processing disorder (SPD) in autism is featured on The Mighty web site. I’ve pasted the YouTube link below so that it might play here.
The video is shot from Alexander’s point of view during a trip to the mall. From noises to smells to bright lights, it shows all the things that might cause Alexander, who was diagnosed with autism two years ago, to have a meltdown.
SPD is often a problematic medical/disability issue in autism, and deserves to be much more a part of our public health dialog. In fact, I believe we should approach autism from the standpoint of brain health, and treat it’s related sensory processing disorder more for what it is, a sequel of medical complaints.
If 20% of the populace were found vomiting from traveling in cars and public transportation from motion sickness, that would be a big story. But when it’s an individual struggling with a health issue involving the brain (as opposed to the middle ear), the public sees it thru biased eyes. And governments do too. The link below is the National Institute on Health April 2016 publication of alternative medicine for autism.
While my own SPD complaints are not normally as severe as the child in this film, at times I feel a lot of what this child is experiencing. Often I am forced to undertake a number of steps to protect me from unhealthful sound. SPD is not just about autism or hydrocephalus or PTSD. It’s about brain health, public health, and how we all approach dysfunction of the brain.
In September 2015 I spoke on alternative medicine, SPD, cand cognitive accessibility in drug and alcohol addiction at Sovereign Health of Orange County. My presentation/blogis quite lengthy, but I share a lot of detail into SPD about 2/3 of the way through the blog.
Today in 2016 — the best way to manage SPD is not to put yourself in an environment that is more than your can process, leaving you overstimulated. You want to get out and do things. But your neurological stamina and your environment are changeable – and you may often not take the right intervention to head off an SPD event in time. Then you’re dealing with neurological sequela.
It’s important to know the individual medical makeup of each affected person, and the nature of their surroundings at any given time, and catch the early WARNING signs. If you’re around someone with SPD difficulties, the signs to watch forare: changes in their eyes, demeanor, irritability, cognition – which indicate overstimulation. Ultimately it’s a function of matching neurological stamina with a tolerable environment. Sound mobile apps, ear plugs, and eye cover can help too. My blog below discusses in more detail how decibel meter apps can help in managing sensory processing disorder. And I discuss my proposal for a new sound processing standard and algorithm measurement that could be used in sound measurement apps.
My Proposal for a Sound Processing Standard & SPD Algorithm for Mobile Apps
The image of “The Hulk” crushing a tree-schredding machine is provided as it is symbolic of the crisis facing individuals with sound sensitivities leading to neurological and behaviorial sequela. The idea for the animated Hulk Crushing the Tree Shredder comes from my HydroPowered Super-Hero series, which is a collection of super hero stories about children living with hydrocephalus. The tree schredding machine also illustrates the challenges that public noise poses to persons with sound sensory disorders. Sound sensativity affects as much as 20 percent of the population today. Yet comes with little to no accommodations or protections.
The broader issue of sensory processing disabilities and SPD spans not only adverse sensory responses on cognition, but also comprehension of information, user instructions, Internet access, access to technology, and reliability of assistive technology. In these regards then, the access to and controlled environment of, defines an accommodation that should be protected by applicable disability rights persuant to the Americans with Disability Act (ADA), and Sections 504 & 508 of the Rehab Act.
One of the common sound/SPD challenges today is with loud and eratic TV and radio advertisements. I am yet to post YouTube examples, but hope to in the near future. I have been exploring technological and regulatory solutions, including, a proposal for a new sound processing standard that would allow for a reproducible means of evaluating sound for likely unhealthful qualities.
A new sound processing standard could help identify differences in sound makeup and resulting audio & brain processing, particularly in affected individuals. This would be particularly helpful in screening offensive TV and radio commercials, machinery, and non-synchronous broadcasts in public places, and would be used in concert with the current decibel emission volume standard. Generally the more monotonous or less synchronized a sound, or the more its component audio is broadcast at the top of the EQ spectrum, the more difficult it is to process. Some types of these sounds are used to break the will of prisoners. Many of today’s audio broadcasts and public noise are now approaching unhealthful levels.
The image below is a c-panel screenshot of Time Warner Cable’s VOIP telephone options for blocking “telemarketer” and other unwanted telephone calls. I have inserted my proposal for TV quiet options (technologically possible) to screen/mute/lower unhealthful audio from TV commercials and programs. I shared this on Twitter and Facebook too recently.
In 2013, I purchased the domain CognitiveAccessibility.org and have been organizing content for broader plans. This domain currently points to a page on my main web site. I do all of my web site work in Microsoft Frontpage, which is being phased out by web hosting companies. I am now writing more on WordPress as have found it easier to use than learning a whole new web platform.
Below I share my blog on TSA Travel Accessibility tips for when flying with a CNS shunt for hydrocephalus or any cognitive disability.
These last two blogs discuss healthful solutions for sensory processing disorders as they relate to the sports of basketball and football. I also discuss methods in basketball for mindfulness and therapy to help calm the brain.
YouTube Videos document Harmful Audio of Sounds from Everyday Life
The audio in the videos below are known to “trigger” neurological complaints and behavioral changesin persons with neurological & learning disorders with secondary sensory processing disorder(SPD). The difficulty in the sound is often in the lack of melodic pattern as I wrote about in my above 2002 metronome study. A similar depiction is presented in the above video on autism from “The Mighty.” Sometime soon, I will update this section of videos with “offensive TV & radio commercials” airing today. Despite passage of the CALM Act baring loud commercials in 2012, it seems that little has changed. Advertisers also manipulate the sound EQ distribution of audio in commercials to get your attention, making it more problematic to persons with neurological disorders and SPD.
This blog discusses my disability rights complaint to the U.S. Justice Department Civil Rights Division, and request for a sound sensory accommodation from loud music and screaming broadcast all over my YMCA of Orange County fitness center where I was a member. I had been a member from 2007 to 2011. But it was in the later part of 2010 that a new fitness director was hired, who began putting on zumba classes with loud music and screaming, which was then broadcast all over the gym. Being exposed to this in the adjacent rooms then made me ill.
I undertook numerous remedies to bring a resolution to this. I was eventually asked WHY I couldn’t tolerate it, that loudness levels were within limits set my their national organiozation, and was told to where ear plugs when in the facility – which I tried for a while. But I kept having to take them out when a nearby member spoke to me. Other members (esp seniors) I was told discontinued their membership due to the unhealthful noise. Earlier in 2007, I had abandoned my 25 year membership at 24 Hour Fitness after they began playing loud overhead music. This YMCA gym could have, and should have, made the necessary accommodation I requested. In their ruling, DOJ rejected my complaint in its entirety and instructed me to seek other (esp. civil) remedies. In my opinion, both were legally and morally in the wrong! But there’s very little advocacy for SPD and sound sensory disabilities.
YMCA’s practices effectively barred me and other members with sensory processing disorder from using their fitness facility. The loud music and screaming gave me headaches, nausea, made me dizzy, and irritable – not unlike motion sickness. This is a known medical response for affected individuals to this type of sound sensory stimuli. And it gets better. After I filed my complaint to DOJ, the fitness director created a fake incident alleging I was disturbing other members, where I was told my membership was no longer good. I left and never returned!
Prior to filing my complaint with DOJ, I verbally and requested in writing to management for a change in their music broadcast policies. YMCA declinded to make any accommodation or modification. This was also after I had done volunteer work (music therapy) for this YMCA, and after others (affected seniors) had donated money.
It took DOJ two years to respond with a “no.” My complaint was filed with the “Disability Rights” division, who has jurisdiction over public and private facilities for disability rights accommodations. My complaint asked DOJ to draft new language of protections applicable to public and private venues across the U.S. where loud music or machinery poses unhealthful consequences to persons with neurological and sensory processing disorders.
Mostly what this YMCA needed do as an accommodation – was keep the door of the Zumba classroom closed. But management decided it more important to leave the door open, despite the room already having numerous open windows to the outside that brought in fresh air, and instead chose to broadcast the loud music and screaming through the rest of the facility.
Below is my complaint to DOJ and request for accommodation to the YMCA of Orange County, both of which were denied. These parties theated sound sensitivity and sensory processing disorder as though it were a “comfort” issue, rather than health issue.
A large segment of the U.S. population suffers from sensory processing disorderas a result of either autism, post TBI, PTSD, ADHD, hydrocephalus, post tumor, post stroke, Parkinson’s Disease, multiple sclerosis, migraine disorder, dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease, and more. Affected individuals become very sensitive to loud/erratic sound, from music, machinery, loud raucious TV commercials, and other types of sound which carries elements which are problematic to affected individuals. The affected Americans account for 15-20 percent of the population. These unhealthful sound levels for many, are often protected by years old standards of the decibel scale & chart below. But, these acceptable limits are coming under fire as I share further below.
The above chart has been coming under fire. OSHA, the primary authority over unhealthful sound in the workplace, still agrees with the more liberable interpretation above.
This next chart illustrates the decibel levels of common machinery.
Now we’re getting a little more current science with this next chart, which factors in reporting by persons exposed to what were thought of as otherwise safe decibel levels. And none of this yet takes into consideration the loss of sensory processing function by persons with neurological injury and disorders, and related SPD. When affected individuals are unable to tolerate these sound/noise levels, that raises ACCESSIBILITY to public and private facilities. Such facilities would include health clubs, restaurants, night clubs, churches, schools, malls, art & music venues and events, fairs, parks, and the like.
The image below illustrates the critical brain areas in volved in sensory processing.
In 2016, technology has made decibel meters available as mobile phone apps. I use the Smart Tools decibel app. However, what is needed is an app and new sound standard to measure the EQ mix of sound and its likely effect on sound processing. Such data would then lower the effective healthful range of sound.
In individuals such as myself, I will have good days and bad days, where my sound intolerance can vary and leave me in a pickle if I ignore the early warning signs. As an affected individual, you need to be aware at any given time of the status of your sensory intolerance, so you can make your optional adjustments as needed. However, there still needs to be new efforts in mitigating the hap-hazard broadcast of sound and noise as so many people are effected, with many more becoming affected who aren’t aware.
As for regulatory actions against noise, the only one that comes to mind is Congress 2012 ruling on the CALM Act – intended to prevent volume raising of TV commercials. But nothing has changed. Obnoxiously loud and ridiculous TV commercialscontinue on almost all channels. And on radio too. While the science in support of sensory processing disorder and affected neurological disorders exists, the U.S. government and DOJ have acted to deny the science, accommodations, and disability rights protections, while advocating for bizarre new and usual protections for special interests groups. I challenge those who deny this, to play such sounds at an official’s or company office. You will likely be thrown out! So WHY is this exposure OK for the general public? I discuss this in more detail in my 2015 blog on Tips and Information on sound related Sensory Processing Disorder below.
New sound standards and measurements must occur for there to be progress. There first needs to be a revision to current safe decibel scale, to revise it to reflect the health needs of persons with SPD disorders. Next, I am advocating a NEW decibel scale to include a “sound processing component” to account for how the human brain processes sound. Examples of difficult sounds are machinery with fast unbroken patterns, TV & radio commercials where a person is talking fast or screaming with music playing at full volume, and music with people screaming and yelling.
Since this blog was authored in 2013, I have added a new web page of information for sensory processing disorders and cognitive disabilities at CognitiveAccessibility.org, as well as several new blogs which I discuss below.
In 2015, I authored this important blog on tips and new information on sound related sensory processing disorder, or SPD, which includes updated supporting blogs and web content on this important subject. I am hoping to find the time and energy to build a complete web site for CognitiveAccessibility.org to advocate and share science on sensory processing disorder and cognitive disabilities. In this blog below, I also share some of my efforts with drumming and drum circlesthat can raise one’s level of intolerance, and improve over well being.
A most recent study of former NFL football players reports that they are on average 3 times more likely to die from Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, or Lou Gehrig’s disease than the general population. But, it shouldn’t surprise you based on what we know about health and longevity: take care of yourself when you are young, and you’ll likely appreciate better health in your later years.
That means, brush your teeth 1-2 times per day, eat your fruits and vegetables, don’t smoke, watch what you eat, get some exercise, don’t drink too much, limit your high risk behavior, and don’t bust yourself up.
I would have to argue that repeated blows to the head, as is common in football, goes against everything our parents and doctors told us from our youth. Though most of the attention of brain problems in football players until now focused on the condition CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which is traced to repeated head blows. This new study looked at the three leading cause of disabilty and death among seniors.
As a youth, I suffered at least one known concussion when I was knocked unconscious during a football game. Over the years, I probably had one or more other concussions due to all the sports I participated in, including, boxing. But, it was a 1992 auto accident at the age of 37 that turned an initially viewed mild head injury and concussion, one month later into post traumatic hydrocephalus and 10 brain shunt surgeries since.
Since my 1992 injury from an auto accident, and with a health care and scientific background, I poured a great deal of my efforts into music therapy, balance & cognitive therapies, neurological testing & patenting of an AI type monitoring system, assistive cognitive technologies, hydrocephalus advocacy, FDA regulatory affairs, and now over the last seven years, drumming for your brain and health.
I believe I can say with absolute certainty that these mindful preparations and preventions will make a significant difference in your health and longevity. I feel bad for the athletes who have sustained multiple concussions and now are having long term neurological complaints. It is never too late to take on stricter controls over activities that affect your brain and health.
Exercise and challenge your brain today thru reading, art, music, and social activities! I have found termendous brain & health benefits from drumming, or drum circles, and today am a drum circle facilitator and speaker on drumming and the brain. I have undertaken research with drumming and sensory processing disorders, common in CTE, parkinson’s, post TBI, PTSD, autism, hydrocephalus, migraine, and many other neurological disorders. Check out my web site and Facebook page at http://www.dollecommunications.com
Remember also to eat right. Drink lots of water. Get proper rest. And watch what you put in your body, including, alcohol and/or drugs. If something seems like it might be bad for you, it probably is!
As many of you might expect, I almost always have percussion instruments with me, even while on vacation. When I traveled to Northern Michigan in 2012, I brought the above claves, shaker eggs, a cylinder shaker, woodpecker, gongo bell, flute, and thunder tube. I travel with these should I be asked to entertain or do a drumming therapy session. This request came from a friend of the family for an 11-yr old girl with cerebral palsy and autism from a chromosomal defect. The child was quite challenged and could not walk or talk, and suffered from restlessness and difficulty sleeping.
The Patient Workup
In preparing for my sessions, I perform a brief patient workup that consist of speaking to the parent in the presence of the child – to get the relevant patient history and to let each see me speaking in the presence of the other – which establishes permission. I am experienced in doing clinical workups from my prior nuclear medicine work and current hydrocephalus consults and drumming work. All together, I have 17 years of clinical workup experience as a nuclear medicine technologist(10 years with my company Certified Nuclear Imaging), 15-20 years hydrocephalus and medical device consulting, more than 10 years in drumming, and 10+ years earlier experience coaching youth soccer and baseball where some of my kids had speacial needs
Next, I introduced myself and spoke directly to Eliza, the eleven year old child in this session. I wanted to assess her present state of mind and willingness to work with me- which was positive. I assess the eyes, body movements, and listen to any verbal responses to any nervousness or physical complaints that might interfere with the session. It is important to know any issues that might limit the session – so I can ideally adjust ahead of this. I shared with her mother that I would keep the instrument play simple and not too loud, and start simple and increase stimulation and complexity as long as she was agreeable and engaging. As the therapist, I must continually observe her engagement and adjust my interactions accordingly.
Sensory Processing Disorder
Most all children with autism also suffer from sensory processing disorder (SPD), as do many with hydrocephalus, ADHD, PTSD, Parkinson’s, post TBI and the like. IN SPD, the individual will become easily over sensatized to sound, light, motion, or scents. Sound is the most common, but lights and colors are often an issue too. The list of accommodations for individuals with SPD as a medical challenge vary, but now fall under “cognitive accessibility,” which medically and legally defines the neurologic functional needs of the individual. I have become increasingly involved in cognitive accessibility over the last 5 years.
As I sat down next to Eliza, I observed her to be drooling, a bit anxious but also curious about what I was about to do. She was cooperative. My approach is to be calm and assuring. In these sessions where sensory processing disorder is present, sound, color, my voice, and movements become a critical part of the music therapy session. I maintain my attentiveness to her responses.
Color, Movement, and Music
I began by playing a simple 1-2 beat on my wooden claves, and it immediately drew her attention. I followed this up with one shaker egg, and then two, and she responded with giggles and excitement the more I played. With the colored egg shakers, it was hard to differentiate how much of her response was due to the egg color and motion versus sound from the eggs. Then I played the cylinder shaker, which can be loud if not careful, and I got more positive response from her. Next, I played the woodpecker and shaker together, and she went bananas! Yes everyone likes the wood pecker. By this time, she had been awaiting and anticipating my every movement and instrument sound. It was as much fun for me as it was for her. She became a terrific student and fan!
Then I played the Remo thunder tube. And she became so excited, she reached out and grabed it. Her mother said she couldn’t hold things in her hands. But she pinned the thunder tube between her right hand and lap, and resisted a bit as I reached to take it and play again. However, at no time did she play any of the instruments. I tried to get her to hold a shaker egg, but without success. Eventually she held the thunder tube almost entirely in her hand. My session lasted almost 40 minutes, and I was very pleased at her attentiveness, willingness to engage me, and willingness to challenge her own limitations.
Music and the Brain
I believe the favorable response and attentiveness during this treatment was due to the child’s attentiveness to engage me and the sounds and colors of the instruments. By the end of the session, she had remarkable focus and level of excitement, and briefly drank from a bottle. And then stood up by holding onto the porch railing, and stretched in excitement. I explained to her mother that these type of therapies might be helpful in her walking or talking someday. The family has a piano where she and the other kids will gather around and play together. I’m told she likes the bass noteson the piano. So I suspected she’d love the sound of a bass drum (I did not have on this trip). I would be curious as to what an EEG would show of her brain waves since she craved active sounds. She’d also been to a Blue Man showwhere the performers made her part of the show.
Music & Drumming Therapy as Healing Arts
EMDR therapy is one related sound and movement therapy that comes to mind and is used in PTSD and sensory processing disorders to desensative the individual. I reflected on new EMDR methodsin 2002 when I undertook my sound sensory study with the Boss metronome (discussed further below). As EMDR is also a “healing art,” I’ve shared my blog below on CAM and alternative medicine. It is from 2012. But it’s been updated. It is the first third or so of this blog, where I discuss my past mind-body methods, that I think is relevant to music and drumming therapytoday. In these regards, I believe the benefits come from more than sound and interaction, they come from the authencity and “intent” of the therapists. And this is widely true thoughout the various alternative medicinemodalities. There must be a BUY INby the patient! The trust and optimism causes a release of neurochemicals in the brain and change in cell structurethroughtout the body.
Drumming for the Brain & its Effect on Brain Wave States
In EMDR Therapy, the therapists determines what to say and how to integrate sound and visual cues. It has been discovered via Parkinson’s Disease work that happy and relaxing activities please the brain and aid in the release of endorphins, particularly dopamine. Dopamine levels often run low in PD. I am uncertain as to the effect seen in cerebral palsyand autism. But I observed in my session with this child that she had a strong affinity for rapid stimulation thru musical toys, also confirmed by her mother.
I am unsure whether Eliza’s low functioning state kept her brain wavesin a lowered state, i.e. alpha. But she craved rapid stimulation. I felt it critical that I engage her in a step-by-step method of rhythmic movements and sound so as not to overstimulate her, and maintain her focus and level of engagement. Most of what I played were slower rhythms. The most up tempo I played was a moderate samba on the bell and clave. And this was only one session. I didn’t have opportunity to stimulate her on multiple levels. And at the end of this single session, I could see she was tired.
I suspect a djembe drum or bass drum might also captivate her. I’ve observed a young girl with marked autismat the HB pier who will sit right in front of the large fast playing djembes. I’ve been concerned it may not be healthy for a child at her level, though she appears drawn to the stimulation. Children have lower brain wavesuntil their teens. So any artificial attempt to speed them up could have adverse consequences. This is also why caffeine and sugar act differently in children.
The next day Eliza’s mother contacted me to share that she slept thru the night and seemed remarkably calmer after the drumming session. This experience is one of the reasons WHY I became involved in drumming. It has also helped me personally in managing many of my own challenges with hydrocephalus. Further below, I discuss some of the contraindications and research with sensory processing disorder, including, a blog with audio examplesfrom YouTube of problematic machinery noise.
I have been involved in drumming therapysince before I became involved in drumming in 2004. It was my 2002 sound sensory processing studywith the Boss metronome which were my orginal efforts in sound patterning. After becoming involved in drumming in 2004, my interests were split between play and research. I authored this first web page on drumming entitled, What is a Drum Circle, which discusses some of the science plus my own views on drumming, or drum circles.
In 2005, I put on my very first drumming for the brain workshopat the High Hopes Head Injurycenter in Tustin, CA. From there, I began to put on a wide array of drumming for health events, though these were mostly for disorders of the brain and central nervous system. This drumming for wellness page below features some of these efforts.
Drumming therapy is finding success today in 1:1 and group sessions with ADHD, ADD, autism, hydrocephalus, Parkinson’s Disease, post TBI, aging, and more. What is critical in all of this is that the individual and group ENGAGE!
The information on my above drumming web pages discusss how you can obtain a drumming event, workshop, or therapy session with me.
I created the above Cognitive Neuroscienceweb page to encompass my neurosciences efforts from hydrocephalus to mHealth, sensory processing disorder, drumming, drumming therapy, cognitive accessibility, and related outreach. Like so many sites and pages, it is a work in progress to keep it up to date.
Generally speaking, decibel appsonly help you with loudness or decibel levelof surrounding sound before it might become problematic for you, your child, or parent. Unfortunately, the triggering aspect of sound, is more in its pattern and pitch than loudness, and is why I undertook this next study in 2002 on sound and sensory processing – to understand the types and effects of sound exposure on persons with hydrocephalus who also have SPD. I feel the types of SPD challenges I evaluated in hydrocephalus is similar to that of autism and other neurological and learning disorders.
As for balance, coordination, fitness, and sensory processing challenges, it doesn’t get much better than shooting baskets– which I began doing therapeutically in 2008. I eventually met up with another shooter, Al Massip, and our on court discussions turned to philosophy and brain science. One day, I posed the question, Where does the Shot come From? And this became a focal point of our shooting for several years, until 2015 when I published this in-depth blog that now attracts 500+ monthly visitors from all over the world. This suggests a lot of people are trying to answer this question. The answer may be in part mystical too. On a therapeutic level, my basketball and drumming with basketball methods are very helpful for a number of neurological disdordersand brain health.
The final supporting presentation below was from my power point as part of a talk I delivered at Wayne State University on drumming and rhythm methods in STEM3 education. I discuss a range of implications from language and learning, to speaking tempo and entrainment of teacher/student, to health and sound sensory processing and classroom noise considerations.
From my 20+ years in living with hydrocephalus, research and writing about the brain, a lifetime of playing music, 17 years in nuclear medicine, and coach on 20 little league soccer and baseball teams, I truly understand how drumming helps others.
Contact me if you are interested in drumming therapy sessions, consults, or having me speak at an event. The best method of contact is via email.
Stephen Dolle Neuroscientist, mHealth Inventor & Drum Circle Facilitator Email: contact[at]dollecommunications[dot]com DolleCommunications.com
Who are we? What are we doing here? Why do I get sick and feel pain? What are the limits of the human mind? Why do we have conflict? What happens after we die? These are perhaps the most common questions asked about human life.
The photo above of me playing at a full moon drum circle was taken in 2009 as I led a group of some 200 drummers. I have changed my header to this blog several times looking for the perfect “image” to best explain what occurs in spontaneous healing (it’s often not spontaneous, rather is over a day or few days) from mind-body practices. When I saw the above photo, I was intrigued by the clarity and number of unusual shapes in the flames of the bonfire. There were quite a few other photos too. Some refer to this as “animal spirits.” I really have limited knowledge of animal spirits, only know about it from books I’ve read. But what I do know, is about mind-body and intuitive healing from over 40 years of experience and study. Many of these occurred in my medical work, and 5-10 occurred as near spontaneous healing in my own personal health.
My experience in health and wellness spans 17 years as as a nuclear medicine technologist (1976-1992) where I interviewed several thousand patients – the majority having cancer, my work as a drum circle facilitator (since 2004), my work as a neuroscientist as a medical device consultant/mHealth developer/patient advocate, and personal health consults I’ve provided to friends and family over the years. I enrolled in pre-med at the University of Cincinnati in 1973. However, my heart wasn’t in it, in large part because I had witnessed several remarkable intuitive events that I could not explain.
I have benefitted from a variety of alternative medicine modalities that date back to the 1970s. While I have undergone twelve (12) brain shunt surgeries with CNS shunts for hydrocephalus, I never abandoned my mind-body medicine roots. My earlier work in nuclear medicine enabled me to develop an mHealth solution for hydrocephalus in 1997. And by 2004, I began to innovate new health solutions using Western Medicine, mHealth, and the healing arts (mind-body medicine). Perhaps one of the more novel health methods I personally use is applied kinesiology (AK) and cranial adjustments (dev by osteopathic medicine), where I perform a self-assessment and adjustment of my cranial misalignment caused by my hydrocephalus and chronic meningitis. I do not currently provide “medical intuitive” consults. But I provide neurological consults for hydrocephalus, advice on mHealth, and am developing several new drumming programs – including a novel program for basketball. Drumming is an extraordinary tool to facilitate “change.“
I initially wrote this blog in 2012 and have updated it multiple times, including, this update of May 11, 2016. I now realize it should be re-written and re-organized – time I could apply to a book on the subject. I enjoy WordPress as I can link related blogs. I have done my best today to tie in the most important points of this discussion.
There are many mind-body or healing arts practices today. They are listed under quite a number of alternative health subjects. The most widely used are: Alternative Medicine, Holistic Medicine, Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (CAM), Integrative Medicine, the Healing Arts, and Mind-Body Medicine. There are hundreds of thousands, if not millions of books and stories on the subject.
Complimentary & Alternative Medicine or CAM was created by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to bridge the gap between Western Medicine and accepted methods of alternative medicine. Within Western medicine, CAM is usually limited to traditional modalities like acupuncture, meditation, music therapy, and massage.
In September 2015, I spoke on Alternative Medicine and CAM in Addiction Treatment at Sovereign Health of Orange County. I had been wanting to write an up to date paper on alternative medicine, and the addiction presentation provided the opportunity. In that blog, I list most of today’s modalities with supporting information. Feel free to open up this blog on alternative medicine methods in addiction treatment.
Many healing modalities, but just a limited number of mechanisms thru which healing occurs. Further below, I discuss man of these.
I also now face a personal health challenge that Western Medicine has not been able to resolve. So, I am driven in part by this in my quest to discover new and more effective mind-body techniques to benefit my own health.
Highlights of Mind-body Healing Blog
1. Overview of Alternative Medicine and Mind-Body Medicine
2. Interviews with Several Thousand Patients battling Cancer (1981-1992) – The Connection with Illness to your Thoughts and Beliefs
3. Experiences with Spontaneous Healing
4. Experiences with Self-Hypnosis – Discovering the Subconscious Mind
5. Understanding the Placebo Effect widely seen in Pharmacology Studies
6. Can Mindfulness Prevent Injury and Illness?
7. Drumming Methods helpful in Healing
8. Basketball, Mindfulness, and Movement Therapies
Components needed for Mind-Body Healing (all healing arts)
Your Brain and Related Functions
Your Mind and Consciousness
Your Personal/Spiritual/Religious Beliefs
The types of Practices you Undertake that Resonate best with You
A Supportive Physical & Social Environment conducive to Healing
Self-Care via Diet, Exercise, Brain Health, and minimizing Substance Abuse
Time and Commitment to Mind-Body Practices
Our brains are far more capable than we know. It is the occasional extraordinary event that draws our curiosity. Some will stop there. Many will explore further.
Given our connection to the planets and stars, it is likely that gravitational and planetary forces play a role in our health in this earthly dimension.
Earlier Experiences in Mind-Body Medicine and CAM
I was first exposed to alternative and mind-body teachings in 1971 thru books on ESP, psychology, philosophy, sales and motivation, and mindfulness. While in pre-med in college, I delved into psychology, and eventually chose NOT to go on to medical school. Instead, I took a one-year internship in nuclear medicine technology. I continued to read about philosophy, mindfulness, and mind-body medicine in books by Dr. Wayne Dyer,Dale Carnegie, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. In 1978, I became involved in new studies on spirituality, music, and nutrition. That same year, I had a compelling tarot card reading that indicated I should move out West. As I was working in nuclear medicine, I was inclined to validate these methods with science as best I could.
Major Breakthrough in 1981 helps me overcome Peripheral Neuropathy
I had a major metaphysical breakthrough in 1979 that led to meeting my wife. Two years later, I had my 1st validated mind-body healing experience that led to unexpected skills, or abilities, as a medical intuitive – corroborated in my work as a nuclear medicine technologist.
This healing experience came courtesy of a 3-week trial of Bufferin undertaken for pain associated with a peripheral neuropathy disorder. The healing trial spanned 6-12 months as I was being passed around from doctor to doctor. I had 8-10 years of reading books & articles on allergies, healing, spirituality, and nutrition. So I knew what was possible! Executing it was another story, however. Arguably, it was “serendipity.”
For as long as I could remember, I had a severe allergy to “aspirin” and would break out in hives from just the slightest bit of aspirin. I’d had become so disfigured at times, I became unable to function or go out for several days to a week.
It was earlier in 1981 when Dr. Horwitz, a Hoag Hospital radiologist I worked with, suggested I try a high dose regimen of Bufferin to help with pain that had become so disabling it had begun to limit my work. There were no NSAID drugs at that time. And I did not want to take opiates. I had read a number of articles on allergies and the use of mind-body mechanisms to overcome them. I knew at the core of even my allergy, there was a long held mis-directed belief that caused the hives. I knew I needed to only confront this unconscious memory and “change” my belief concerning it.
My neuromuscular or peripheral neuropathywas diagnosed by way of abnormal EMGs of both arms & legs, and a positive muscle/nerve biopsy of my left lower leg. Both of my legs had become thin and atrophied in appearance from the nearly 10 years I suffered these complaints. This was about June 1980. The Hoag neurologist informed me I would have to change careers and find a desk job to accommodate the loss of muscle tone in my back and legs. He told me I would also no longer be able to play sports.
So, for several weeks, I prayed and meditated on this allergy to aspirin, and “asked” the higher power that I be able to take Bufferin for several weeks to possibly help with my pain. I had very modest expectations. But like most types of change, I needed a push or catalyst — and this came one day by way of delayed test results & frustration in my rheumatologist’s office – that caused me to storm out and never return. On that day, I took responsibility for my health! And it changed me life!
The next day, I took my first tablet of Bufferin – AND I did NOT break out in hives. Then, I took another. And another! And there were no hives. Over the next 3 weeks, I took the maximum dose of 8 or 12 tablets per day. Whatever was the label’s listed maximum dosage at that time, that’s what I took.
By the end of my 2nd week on this Bufferin dose, my back and leg pains were remarkably improved, so much so, I was able to leap about my department’s exam rooms and lift heavy patients without limitation. Two weeks earlier, I could barely stand on my feet.
In the months that followed, I discovered when my complaints returned, all I needed do was “think” about the Bufferin and how I felt when taking it – the pain and weakness would quickly go away. This really caught my attention and led me to explore this apparent “Placebo Effect” further. So, over the next few months, anytime I experienced an ailment, a cold, an injury of any kind, etc., I would treat it through a mind-body conversation. I would look at my complaints, have a brief discussion with myself over it, and then tell it to go away. But this wasn’t the only change in my life. I soon realized I could see or “sense” illness in my patients and clinical work in nuclear medicine.
At that time, I had been working as a nuclear medicine technologist at Hoag Memorial Hospital in Newport Beach for about 2 years. But I had been a technologist since 1976. I performed about 6-8 diagnostic & therapeutic procedures per day – each of which I worked up clinically. Apparently, with my change in consciousness from this healing experience, I could now sense the type and location of illness, eg. spread of metastises in my cancer patients while in the imaging room and in my brief clinical workup – before results were available and reviewed by the radiologist. Today, this is referred to as “medical intuitive.”
I could see the illness usually by simply talking to the patient. I eventually began to share this with Hoag physicians and co-workers. But, I had to be careful as the prevailing views about this then were that it was “quackery.” And I did not wish to be disciplined. I also could not share any results with patients. However, on occasion I would impart a healing affirmation or blessing to a patient. I had many wonderful discussions and thousands of patient interviews over the next eleven years (1981 to 1992) of imaging work.
1981 was many years before CAM would become accepted by Western medicine. And at that time, there were really no or few opportunities to do this for a living, which I was very interested in pursuing. So instead, I spent the next 10 years applying my mind-body methods to film & theatre acting, vocal work, and my own imaging business, plus became involved in a wide array of spiritual, health, and wellness healing modalities. If you get a chance, please also visit my in-depth blog on the brain science of basketball where I delve into the role of “mindfulness” of movement and proprioception in athletics.
Surviving the Challenges of a Major Neurological Disorder
In 1992, I developed the condition hydrocephalus after an auto accident in Costa Mesa, CA. In the past, I was able to manage any illness in-part with mind-body methods. But the hydrocephalus affected my cognition, making mind-body practices very difficult.
From 1992 to 2013, I underwent a total of 12 brain shunt surgeries with many related complications. I did fairly well considering the health challenges I faced.
I remain involved in the care and treatment of hydrocephalus, the cognitive neurosciences, mHealth apps, and putting on drumming workshops. I use the term “nuts & bolts” to describe my work with Western Medicine, i.e. methods which can be corroborated and reproduced by science, and CAM methods as healing via “the unseen,” referring to methods that are not well corroborated by pier reviewed medical studies. Many of my methods in drumming are now being corrborated today.
2012 (near) Spontaneous Healing of an Abdominal Fungal Rash
In March 2012, I experienced a near spontaneous healing of an abdominal fungal rash that arose from mycomplete VP shunt revision of Feb. 12, 2012. My peritoneal catheter had been revised by inflating my abdomen with air (laporoscopy technique). But it left a fungal rash at the site of both fenestrations that spread all over my abdomen and chest. The image shows it at 7 days post op. Sorry for the graphic illustration!
I was prescribed Betamethasone Dipropionate cream, a corticosteroid, and had been applying it for 6 weeks. It had spread even up to my chest. One Saturday morning in March 2012, I lay in bed and expressed my frustration as to why it hadn’t gone away. In that moment, I recall looking at the rash and saying, “You need to go away.” I thought it, and I meant it too. I didn’t commit any additional thought to it for the rest of the day. In the evening as I prepared for bed and removed my shirt, I noticed the rash was gone. Completely gone! Not a trace. I recall experiencing a wonderful feeling of calm.
From my years of reading and being involved in healing practices, I best explain this healing as a mindfulness affirmation, where my affirmation was also a command that the rash to go away. This was a bit different than my practices of the 1980s, when I held dialog with my body, injury, or illness, and gave instruction and asked that it be healed. On this day in 2012, I commanded it to go away. That’s a bit different mindset. I’m sure there are healing experts who might better explain this. This is my best recollection and understanding of the healing mechanism.
2010 Spontaneous Healing of Injured Shoulder at my YMCA Gym
The following is a spontaneous healing of my right shoulder that occurred in 2010 while working out in my area YMCA gym. I have had rotator cuff problem in my (non dominant) right shoulder for 30 plus years and it had been limiting the amount of dumbell weights for several months. Earlier I had a fantastic chiropractor who could help with adjustments. I’d been dealing with several months of pain and limitation that was especially problematic while lifting dumbell weights.
On this day, I was doing my normal routine, but with only about half the weight. And “something” occurred in between reps as I glanced over and caught a glimpse of a pretty buff guy who was lifting a lot of weight. In that instant, I had a moment of enlightenment, where for no particular reason I said to myself, “I can do that too” (lift heavy weights). And I instantantly began lifting my usual past weight, twice as much as when limited by pain. But now all pain was gone. In an instant, something happened in my consciousness where my shoulder became healed (at least from pain). I chronicled this on my Facebook Fan page where I attempted to explain it. I admit it came amid a more stable period of mental and physical health– that I think lends itself to healing. I feel the healing mechanism is self-hypnosis by way of conscious affirmation with the subconscious mind. There are many techniques for “healing.” In hypnosis and self-hypnosis, you modify your subconscious belief system.
Most Eastern healing methodologies follow “meridian theory,” which follows a map of the body’s energy fields. This also involves one’s physical and spiritual influences. Chiropractic medicine takes this a step further by adding “diagnostic” evaluations with a practice termed “Applied Kinesiology,” or AK, which uses the muscle reflext test. Chiropractors use AK as biofeedback to test and treat a variety of injuries & conditions. It is also used by practitioners in psychotherapy.
Applied Kinesiology is also involved in the body’s responses during drumming via an array of physiologic & meridian field interactions – which includes thru movement, emotion, vibration, connectedness, and brain wave entrainment. I’ve written extensively on drumming for the brain on my web site and blog. I host a dedicated web page on the Cognitive Neurosciences with links to my papers, blogs, and related web pages.
Other methods of biofeedback measurement include assessment of breathing, heart rate, brain waves, body temperature, and blood flow in the fingertips (i.e. the color Stress Card). I found AK testing easy to use and reproduce. It is also used in truth assessment. Other methods of truth assessment include heart rate monitoring (i.e. lie detector tests), voice, hand-writing, and eye contact analysis.
The effectiveness of CAM therapies is in part dependent on the level of “engagement,” or how well the individual believes and interacts with the methodology. In taiko drumming, for instance, there must be considerable engagement of the physical and emotional self. This is true in hand drumming & drum circles too. I incorporate these methods in my health and wellness drumming. CAM’s effectiveness can sometimes rival that of Western Medicine. In both, you must believe and have a desire to be healed. You can also choose to fight your treatment, where you will see poor outcomes. Reciprocally, you can be healed through your belief in a sugar pill, known as the “placebo effect.” The favorable response rate of the placebo effectin prescription drug studies ranges from 15-40%. Plant Therapy, like that seen in the photo below, is also useful in mind-body healing.
There is considerable evidence in support of the positive benefits of a physician’s bed-side manner in healing. I’ve witnessed numerous examples on this in Western Medicine. And at the center of each favorable outcome, is almost always LOVE & TRUST. As humans, we are particularly effected by the power of LOVE. And love is at the core of most CAM modalities, from energy work to meditation, chiropractic to drumming, CAM allows participants to engage their bodies, mind, and spirit thru love & trust. Just look at the love, trust, and engagement of the children in this drum circle below.
The effectiveness of CAM and mind-body modalities is also in large part dependent on the patient having an OPEN state of mind. The OPEN state of mind allows the patient to direct his/her thoughts and beliefs in support of the healing, and especially so when prompted by a therapist or facilitator, and similarly, in healing affirmations in your at home sessions. In fact, an OPEN state of mind is required to achieve success in almost every activity in life from sports play to school, counseling to group drumming (group hypnosis), and overcoming adversity. Keep an OPEN MIND. And BELIEVE!
It was in 1994 two years post hydrocephalus that I began to utilize music as therapy to help my related health challenges, and took music classes at Orange Coast College. This helped to reconnect my intuitive brain with my emotional self and address some of the damage done to me physically. This enhanced intuitive function became important to medical research I was doing, where my memory and short term memory were often problematic in complex neuroscience, mHealth, and artificial intelligence topics.
I also conducted research and wrote about sound Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)in neurological disorders, and drumming therapyas an adjunct healing art. The blog below was updated in April 2016. The opposite to calm, is CHAOS, like in the TV sets some of us grew up with.
In 2002, I undertook a study of Sensory Processing Disorderthat revealed important findings in cognition and mindfulness. Though my focus was SPD in hydrocephalus, my findings are relevant to ADHD, autism, migraine, post TBI, PTSD, addiction disorders, and anyone requiring mental focus and mindfulness. The inability to achieve this state often leads to illness and/or injury.
In 2008 I became involved in “cognitive accessibility,” the front line of accessibility accommodations relating to sensory processing disorder. I also own the domain http://www.CognitiveAccessibility.org
I am extensively involved in drumming for the brain as a facilitator, event organizer, neuroscience researcher, and speaker. Since 2005, I have put on over 200 community and private drumming events, including, numerous drumming workshops involving my research. I find group drumming particularly effective in health and wellness as it allows for the merging of neuroscience principles with the healing arts, and which can be tailored to programs to for specific health populations. Drumming is supported by both Western medicine and CAM principles.
Between my professional hydrocephalus consults, community drumming, Meetup events, and drumming workshops, I have validated many of my drumming methods.
In 2012, I conducted a 1:1 drumming therapy sessionwith a young girl with cerebral palsy and autism. She ended up having a remarkable response to my 35 minute drumming session, using only small hand percussion. Her favorite instrument turned out to be the Thunder Tube (not pictured) that she attempted to hold.
No doubt one of the more powerful mind-body group therapies is “group drumming.” It offers the ability to help participants detach from the constraints of their self-imposed belief system in healing of illness, managing pain, and overcoming the psychological hurdles needed to usher change in their life for self-healing. Drumming is able to alter our perception and attachment to a set of beliefs and behavior. The challenge for the facilitator then is in creating the right setting and structure.
The nuts & boltsportions I carry out through physical play and exercises, while the CAM portions are carried out through discussion, play, and affirmations of who/what you are, and who/what you want to be. Be it the effects of a brain disorder like hydrocephalus, or the metastatic spread of cancer, I believe drumming play and affirmations can create the kind of change in one’s belief system to cause change in one’s physical body. What is needed are structured workshops fine tuned to the specific population and setting.
I cannot say enough about athletic, movement, and proprioception activities. I’ve spent a lifetime in athletics and coaching, including, more than 20 of my son’s AYSO soccer and little league baseball teams where I often used philosophy and mind-body teachings, and in 10 years of my drumming work today.
I like to incorporate applied kinesiology, or AK, into wellness programs and therapeutic drumming. With a strong medical technology background, I was also able to design and patent an mHealth app for hydrocephalus in 1997, which today could accommodate AK testing and results. I’ve now written about mHealth appsfor migraine, and more widely in health care in these two blogs below.
I’m a big fan of AK and its diagnostic properties, and I use these methods to regularly evaluate and adjust my own cranial deficits, spinal misalignments, and shunt malfunction. I believe AK could be used to focus energy on a health problem during drumming play. The area could be the site of a tumor, a failing implant, or an injury.
The broader role for mHealth apps in CAMis as clinical case managers in ongoing therapy, in AK diagnostics with practitioners, and with your own at home practices. Bear in mind the primary weakness of the human brain is “memory.” Currently poor documentation of treatments limits CAM outcomes. mHealth apps and software would aid documenting this for better continuity of effective treatment.
The big challenge today for the next generation mHealth apps and UI interfaces is: How do you design apps that facilitate healing, while not being a distraction to healing? What is needed is an mHealth interface that includes the nuts & bolts of medicine, while not overwhelming the patient and allowing for interactive discussion and healing.
At the core of all healing is this profound statement, “What you believe to be true, Is.” This is termed the Biology of Belief.” Summing it up, it means that when you change your belief system — You change your life and health!
You can’t recover from an illness until you BELIEVE it will happen! You must also have “balance” in your life which will help in managing all aspects of your life. The Wheel Of Life image below illustrates the eight areas of your life you must bring into harmony.