Sleep: Your Foundation for Good Health

Brain Awareness Week 2012
Studies have suggested that sleep is essential for the maintenance of proper immune function. Sleep is your mental “down time” for your neurons to repair themselves.  While you sleep, your memories can be organized into long-term forms of storage. Your body also repairs muscles while you sleep. This makes sleep a very important part of pain management. Be sure to get a good night’s sleep to function at your best.

Learning Changes Your Brain

Brain Awareness Week 2012

You must practice to learn.  When you  practice a skill, game, or task, you repeatedly activate the same circuit of synapses.  Each time you practice you make small incremental changes to your synapses. After several repetitions, these synapses become different. Learning alters the structure of your brain!

Move Your Body: Activate Your Brain

Brain Awareness Week 2012

In studies of those aged 90 and beyond, the level of exercise was correlated very strongly with longevity. Your brain benefits from exercise just as much as your muscles do.  An average of 45 minutes a day provides the most benefit, but even 15 minutes helps. Keep moving to keep your brain fit.

Slowing Down Helps Kids Learn

Brain Awareness Week 2012

Sometimes just slowing down and making a change in a process can improve performance.  This can reduce stress and open the door for learning. One researcher found that children that often write numbers backwards form them correctly when they slow down.  Something as simple as using a different pencil when they write numbers gives them time to slow down while they make the switch. This simple task allows the child to calm down and focus.

Your Brain Can Change

Brain Awareness Week 2012
Your brain is constantly changing in response to your experiences.  Your brain is a little different each day. It retains this flexibility well into old age. Keep your brain healthy and it will only loose a few neurons with age.  Continue to care for your brain well and it will generate new neurons regularly.  Old brains can do new tricks!

Brain Awareness Week: March 12 – 18, 2012

Brain Awareness Week - Get ConnectedThe brain is the final frontier. How much do you know about your brain? Brain research has taught us many things in the last 10 years. Take advantage of National Brain Awareness Week and learn about your brain. Learn about brain function and become aware of what it means to have a neurological condition.

Here’s how we’re celebrating National Brain Awareness Week in Nevada County:

Throughout the week, information will be posted on the Sierra EEG blog at http://www.SierraEEG.com.

There will also be an information table at Briar Patch with free educational brain health materials for adults and children including pictures to color, bookmarks and stickers.  The Madeline Helling Library will have some materials as well.

The celebration will continue at the end of the month with a display at “Emergence: 2012” March 24th & 25th. The fair is located at the Miners Foundry 325 Spring Street in downtown Nevada City.  This display will include literature on brain health and fun brain activity books for kids. You will even have an opportunity to play a video game with your brainwaves.

For more information about Brain Awareness week, call (530) 263-1413.

What is Eating Healthy? Food for the Brain.

Healthy Eating Plate Chart

Harvard Healthy Eating Chart: Food for the Brain

Start off the New Year with the Harvard School of Public Health Healthy Eating Plate. Half of your plate should be filled with vegetables and fruit. The other half of your plate should be whole grains and healthy protein. This is a very simple program that is based on research without bowing to the food industry lobbyists. The Healthy Plate does not include dairy products. It recommends that we eat no more than 2 servings of dairy per day. “Limit milk and dairy products to one to two servings per day, since high intakes are associated with increased risk of prostate cancer and possibly ovarian cancer.” It is easy to get calcium from other sources. “Calcium can also be found in dark green, leafy vegetables, such as kale and collard greens, as well as in dried beans and legumes.”

Read more about the Healthy Eating Plate here.

National Brain Awareness Week

This week is National Brain Awareness Week.   Brain Awareness Week is an opportunity to teach about brain health and inspire people to make changes in how they care for themselves to enhance their brain function. Another purpose is to reach young people, give them information about brain function and inspire the next generation of neuroscientists.

To help reach these goals in our community, I will be distributing educational materials for children and adults at the Miner’s Foundry this weekend (3/19 & 3/20) during “A Gathering of Mind and Spirit.” You will have the opportunity to play a video game with your brain waves for a small fee.  I will be making a presentation, “The Magic of Neurofeedback”, on Sunday at noon. Admission is $5.00.  I hope to see you there!

Today is the 7th anniversary of my brain injury.

Each year on January 15th, I look back on my progress.  I have much to be thankful for.  I am not living my life from the couch as doctors told me I would be.  I am living a full life filled with activities.  When I look back through the years my progress is very clear. 

Soon after my brain injury, I slept most of the day.  I get through my days without a nap now.  I do take time to rest several times a day.  I no longer suffer the pain of a constant migraine that hovers between an 8 and 9 on a scale of 1-10.  My migraine is now a 1 or 2.  I don’t have to cruise the furniture like a toddler or have family members hold me up to walk.  My balance is good and I can walk on my own. 

I don’t stutter at all anymore.    My word finding skills are much better too.  I can speak fluidly without having to stop to find words to express myself.  My special relationships are better too.  I can read a map without getting turned around.  The pain in my neck and shoulders is no longer debilitating.  I don’t have to get in the spa 5 or 6 times a day to loosen them up.  I can read and comprehend without reading the same sentence over and over.  I can write legibly and rarely transpose letters.  I have fully regained my sense of taste.  I no longer have to load food up with garlic in order to be able to taste a slight hint of it.   

I have more energy and am able to plan things out so I get the rest I need.  I still over-do it, but plan a recovery day to replenish myself.  I still have some memory problems, but I am able to cope with them well.  I am able to remember well enough to carry on a conversation without asking for people to repeat themselves constantly.  I do still hear “I already told you that,” but not multiple times a day.  It happens once every week or so now.  When I’m in the city where there are big parking lots, I still need to park close to the entrance so I can find my car. 

I still have light sensitivity, but it is not as bad as it was.  I don’t need to wear sunglasses in the house with all the curtains closed.  I can go without sunglasses when I can control the environment.  I am most affected by fluorescent lighting.  The sunglasses I wear now are a lighter tint and they make it so I can spend a longer amount of time in other environments. 

I don’t have to stay home to avoid overstimulation.  There are still events that I avoid, but the list is much shorter.  I avoid events with loud music.  I can now handle crowds and busy environments.  I still need to be aware of my limits and leave before I become too over-stimulated.   I still use earplugs when I go to the movies and prefer to watch at home where the volume can be controlled.  I still have to close my eyes when there are fast moving scenes or really bright scenes.  That’s not really a big deal.   

All in all, after 8 years I have had many improvements.  My brain injury has been quite the learning experience.  I have experienced first-hand what it is like to have a learning disability.  I now know what a really bad headache is.  I thought I knew before my brain injury, but I had no idea!  Pain that makes you unable to function and causes vomiting is way different than any headache I had ever experienced before.  I have experienced the fear of not ever being able to think clearly again. 

We have all had the experience of not being able to come up with a word or someone’s name, but having that sort of trouble day in and day out is an entirely different story.  I wanted to go back to the way my life was before my brain injury.  As I moved through different phases of anger and grieving, I realized that I didn’t want to go back to who I was.  Going backwards is never a good goal.  I needed to move forward and become the person that I would naturally become through my experiences. 

How did I make so much progress?  There were many factors in my journey forward.  One of the biggest factors was my refusal to accept less than I wanted.  After lots of physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, massage, vision therapy , chiropractic and cranio-sacral therapy combined with every drug you can imagine, the results were not acceptable.  I was still told I needed to accept that most of my life would be spent on the couch. 

My neuropsychologist recognized that I was not willing to settle for that.  He referred me to his college roommate who had gone into neurofeedback. 

Neurofeedback was the missing piece in my recovery program.  After only a few sessions, I could feel things starting to change.  By the end of my first 20 session block, I could see that I was going to be able to have the life I wanted.  I told my therapist that I had to learn how to do this and help other people experience the wonderful changes that I was experiencing.  She said, “Rachelle, let’s get you better first.”  I started doing daily neurofeedback sessions for myself with her guidance and things continued to improve.  After 2 years of treating myself, I learned how to treat others.  Being a neurofeedback therapist is extremely rewarding for me.  I love helping people’s lives change!

Now I have mostly a hidden disability that I can manage with strategies and accommodations that people don’t usually notice.  For instance, I keep my client load down so that I have enough energy to meet their needs.  My office is a controlled environment with full spectrum daylight dimmable lighting.  I continue with neurofeedback sessions for myself that keep me working at my peak performance potential. 

Recovery takes time.  Recovery has been difficult. And the further I get in the process, the harder it is for me to see the incremental changes.  Looking back years helps me to see how far I have really come.  Seeing the distance I have traveled gives me confidence, strength and hope.   I look at life very differently now.   Life is good.

Neurofeedback and Weight Loss

Weight loss is not an easy undertaking.  Overeating throws off your body’s natural balance.   When your body is out of balance your natural appetite controls don’t work.  You lose the ability to feel when you need to eat and when to stop.  The key to permanent weight loss is to restore these natural sensors.

The main patterns that lead to overeating are anxiety, depression and self-loathing.   Anxiety causes overeating when you get frightened, feel stressed, or are overwhelmed with life.  Depression leads to overeating when you feel empty or deprived and you can’t express yourself.  You may be stuck in a life with a lack of support and meaning that leaves you angry and lonely.  Self loathing comes from guilt, negative self image and low self esteem.  All these patterns can lead to cravings of unhealthy foods.  Diet programs don’t usually address these patterns.  Restricting your portions often just makes these problems bigger.

Diets are not natural and often leave you feeling deprived.  They are short term solutions to a long term problem.  No one wants to be a calorie counter for the rest of their life.  Your BMI (body mass index) is not as important as gaining control of your body.  If you have tried Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig or other weight loss programs without lasting results, you are not alone.  You can’t retrain your brain by restricting food intake, so your problems with overeating keep returning.  You lose weight only to put it back on.   The only way to keep doing well on a diet is to stay on the program forever.  This is an external program trying to take over for a natural internal balance.  (Not to mention making you a long term customer.)  Change doesn’t take place because the diet program addresses the symptom of being overweight rather than the cause.  It is difficult to make internal change.

Neurofeedback can help bring your body and emotions to a balanced state.  It resets basic body functions such as sleep cycles and appetite control.  Neurofeedback trains your brain to know when you are hungry and when you are full.  With neurofeedback you will gain natural control over your appetite.  Your cravings will be reduced and your brain will guide you to a healthy lifestyle.

Neurofeedback works with your subconscious.  You may have difficulty changing habits because the habit you’d like to change is not stored in the conscious part of your brain.  Your subconscious controls your habits, much like your heartbeat and breathing.  You don’t have to think about each heartbeat or breath.  They just happen.  Cravings and overeating are not things that you think about, either.  You don’t consciously choose to overeat or have cravings for unhealthy foods.  They just happen automatically.  Your subconscious is programmed to react to events with unhealthy eating.

Without neurofeedback, reaching your subconscious and changing the messages it is sending is difficult.  Neurofeedback therapy talks straight to your subconscious.  It shows your brain how it is functioning in real time and provides feedback that shows your brain where to make changes.  We customize every neurofeedback session to your particular needs –for example, appetite and cravings.  By doing so, we address the triggers for overeating.

Triggers for overeating are often emotional.  Eating for emotional reasons creates patterns in your brain.  These patterns become deeper and deeper as they are carried out over and over.  Neurofeedback helps to stabilize your emotions.  It works on emotional patterns that lead to overeating.  With neurofeedback training, you will fall into these unhealthy patterns less frequently.  When you do, it will be easier to stop and return to a healthier pattern.

Neurofeedback makes change easier.  You can stabilize your emotional and physical health and reduce cravings with neurofeedback therapy.  Neurofeedback helps reduce negative thoughts and increases positive attitudes.  It helps you deal with past traumas and distance yourself from them.  Increase self-awareness and strengthen your sense of self with neurofeedback.  Be yourself and feel good about it!  Weight loss will naturally follow.


Sierra EEG
Neurofeedback Therapy
142 East McKnight Way
Grass Valley, CA  95949
(530) 263-1413