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.

Chemo Brain Fog

I attended “A Day for Women” at the Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital Cancer Center in Grass Valley last weekend.   I was an exhibitor and spoke to many women about their cancer experiences.  One Issue that kept coming up was chemo brain. 

Chemo brain is a mental fog or “cloudiness” that causes cognitive problems such as word finding, memory problems, and difficulty paying attention.  It is a side effect that occurs during, and after chemotherapy.  Depression, anxiety, memory loss and insomnia often accompany chemo brain. 

Chemo brain affects everyday life and can make it difficult or impossible for patients to return to work or school.  I posted an article about a study that is taking place about the effect of neurofeedback on chemo brain fog.

One of the researchers conducting this study, Jean Alvarez, has experienced chemo brain herself.  Her chemo brain symptoms lasted seven years, until she discovered neurofeedback.  Her insomnia disappeared in 3 sessions and her depression was gone in 10 sessions.  Her positive experience with neurofeedback led to the research project.  Some people respond very quickly like Jean, while others can take longer to see results.  Quality of life is an important issue in cancer care and neurofeedback can help.

Olympic Gold with Neurofeedback

The Vancouver Winter Games are the talk of the town.  The Canadian Press ran an article on February 15th explaining the “Top Secret” that gave Canadian athlete Alexandre Bilodeau the winning edge he needed to take the gold.  Neurofeedback is his secret!  Neurofeedback helped him get his mind and body working well together.  It helped him to reduce stress, focus better, and become more self-aware. 

You can read The Canadian Press article here.

ADHD Treatment with Neurofeedback

ADHD Treatment with Neurofeedback: A randomised controlled clinical trial shows improvements in the Neurofeedback group were superior to those of the control group. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.

Your Personal Brain Training Sessions

Neurofeedback, also known as EEG Biofeedback or Neurotherapy, is a ground breaking technique that challenges the brain to function at its optimal capacity. This powerful technique has been successfully helping clients around the world for over 30 years. It is a non invasive procedure with dramatic results for a multitude of symptoms.

Think of Neurofeedback as a personal training session for the brain. Training the brain to function at its maximum potential is similar to the way the body is exercised, toned and maintained. Brain training
exercises the neural pathways that allow the brain to have optimal function in a variety of areas.

Neurofeedback changes family’s life!

Mother tells the story of her experience with neurofeedback for cognitive, speech, and visual problems. Then she tells about her daughter’s learning disabilities and how neurofeedback helped.

Neurofeedback Help for Migraines

Video testimonial of a long-time migraine headache sufferer who finally found relief with neurofeedback.

Welcome to Sierra EEG Journal

Welcome!  This is where I will be journaling about neurofeedback therapy, the latest research, upcoming seminars I will be doing and much more.

I just want you to know that I chose to provide neurofeedback therapy because of what it did for me.  I will journal much more about this later, but, briefly, neurofeedback really saved my life.  After suffering a mild traumatic brain injury (closed head brain injury) at work, I was completely unable to function.  I sat on the coach — for pretty much a couple of years!  I wasn’t able to do anything.

Neurofeedback changed all of that.  It made my constantly pounding, blinding migraine headaches much less.  (No, the headaches didn’t go away completely.)  It made me be able to think like a normal adult.  It helped my balance.  And on and on.

Since neurofeedback was largely unavailable here in Nevada County, California, I decided that I would provide this incredible therapy.

I’ll tell you much more about my personal experiences with neurofeedback later.