NEURODEGENERATIVE DISEASE & INJURY

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DISCLAIMER: The following content is meant to be educational to enable individuals to make informed decisions. It is NOT intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding treatment.

Helius PoNS™ Device

Brain Injury, Multiple Sclerosis

The Portable Neuromodulation Stimulator (PoNS™) device is based on almost 40 years of research, most of it at the University of Wisconsin, which has shown that electrical stimulation of the tongue, when combined with exercise, can reduce or eliminate debilitating symptoms such as balance, gait, general muscle control, brain fog, and processing speed. The device works by stimulating two major cranial nerves, creating a flow of neural impulses that are then delivered directly into the brain stem. 

 

Therapy involves use of the PoNS device in combination with progressive exercises that address the specific neurological challenges.  The device is currently only licensed for Multiple Sclerosis and Traumatic Brain Injury in Canada and is expected to be approved for use in the US, EU, and Australia in 2021-2022.  Learn more information here:  https://heliusmedical.com/index.php/divisions/heliusmedical/the-pons-device 

The Recovery Project

Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson's, Brain & Spinal Cord Injury 

The Recovery Project (TRP) is a neurorehabilitation practice that provides aggressive rehabilitation to people with spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, neurological disorders, and other neurological conditions. They have been in business since 2003 and have three facilities located in Michigan. 

 

TRP was founded by Charlie Parkhill, an entrepreneur, who became paralyzed through a water accident, and Polly Swingle, who was the physical therapist supporting his post-hospital recovery.  Through the application of neuroplastic technologies and treatments, Polly helped Charlie make tremendous progress in his recovery, which he continues to this day.  They proactively apply the principles of neuroplasticity throughout their recovery and wellness programs.   Learn more about their programs here:  http://therecoveryproject.net/

John Pepper Protocol

Parkinson's Disease

John Pepper was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 1992 and self-developed a treatment protocol that allowed him to reverse many of his symptoms and eliminate the use of his PD medication by 2002.  He has documented his journey and detailed his treatment plan in a book, Reversing Parkinson's.  You can also find several YouTube videos demonstrating his methodologies.   He also actively maintains a website and communication forum.  John and his protocol were evaluated and featured in Norman Doidge's latest book, The Brain's Way of Healing.  You can watch an overview of his journey and protocol here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_QVIdPo71gI 

brainHQ

Cognitive Decline, Attention

Brain HQ is a software program developed by Dr. Michael Merzenich, the Father of Neuroplasticity, that leverages his research to improve cognitive performance.

The software has more than two dozen brain-training exercises organized into six categories: Attention, BrainSpeed, Memory, 

People Skills, Intelligence, and Navigation.  Using a special algorithm, each exercise adapts in difficulty so that the individual is always training at the optimum level. To receive maximum benefit, auditory training requires 40 total hours over 8-10 weeks and visual training requires 10 total hours over 4-10 weeks.  You can access the software directly through the website.  Learn more about the science behind each specific exercise and the program's effectiveness here:  

https://www.brainhq.com/about

Mind-Eye Institute

Learning Difficulties, Autism, Brain Injury, Neurodegenerative Disease

The Mind-Eye Institute is an optometry practice with an emphasis on neuro-optometric rehabilitation that measures how well the eye and ears coordinated.  The coordination between these two senses is on par to hand-eye coordination and a disconnect between these two senses can be a root cause of learning difficulty or inability to focus in people with brain damage due to injury or disease.  The lack of coordination cannot be determined through traditional vision and hearing tests and requires the use of a Z-Bell Test, which was created by Dr. Zelinsky at the Mind-Eye Institute.  Treatment is through the use of special lenses and filters and types of frames.  It may require several phases of progressive treatment to experience the full benefit.  You can learn more here: https://mindeye.com/

Photobiomodulation

Arthritis, Wounds, Musculoskeletal Disorders 

Photobiomodulation, low-level laser, or cold laser therapy works through a photochemical effect (which also occurs with photosynthesis in plants). When cells inside tissue are stressed via disease and injury, the mitochondria (or powerhouse/place where metabolism takes place inside a cell) produces harmful nitric oxide. The nitric oxide displaces needed oxygen from cells thus causing inflammation or cell death. When tissues absorb the light from the low-level laser therapy, the nitric oxide is dissociated (or irreversibly split) allowing more oxygen back into the cells and therefore increasing tissue oxygenation. Via this mechanism, cell metabolism and mitochondria function are restored. The absorption of the light is also said to increase cell proliferation and migration (regeneration) and to modulate levels of growth factors and inflammatory mediators.  Cold therapy is primarily available through physical therapy and functional providers.  Before deciding on a therapist, research which system is used and the results they have seen.  Not all systems are equal.  BioFlex laser systems have been shown to be one of the most effective.

The Shepherd Center

Spinal Cord and Brain Injury, Chronic Pain, Multiple Sclerosis

Located in Atlanta, GA, The Shepherd Center specializes in the comprehensive treatment of spinal cord injury, brain injury, stroke, multiple sclerosis, spine and chronic pain, and other neuromuscular disorders. They treat patients from all over the world and are recognized as one of the top 10 rehabilitation facilities in the United States.  They are committed to utilizing evidence-based therapies in their in-patient and outpatient facilities and implement neuroplastic principles and techniques throughout their treatment protocols. 

 

Shepherd also has an active research program which allows patients to participate in cutting edge programs.  Their innovation center, which is being expanded, also helps design and test supportive technology tailored to patients' individual needs.   Learn more by visiting their website here: 

https://www.shepherd.org/patient-programs/multiple-sclerosis

Neuroworx

Spinal Cord  & Brain Injury

Located near Salt Lake City, Utah, Neuroworx is a neurorehabilitation center opened in 2004  by Dr. Dale Hull and Jan Black.  Dr. Hull, an obstetrician, became a paraplegic, paralyzed from the neck down in a trampoline accident and worked with Jan Black for 3.5 years (who had had some Feldenkrais training) post-hospital release to recover the majority of his function.  He now walks and has nearly full movement of his arms and legs though he still suffers from numbness, pain and bladder and bowel dysfunction. 

 

Jan and Dr. Hull, inspired by the changes and wanting to share the benefits of their neuroplastic-oriented therapy opened Neuroworx and continue to help people across the globe who are living with paralysis regain lost function.    

 

Learn more here: https://neuroworx.org/drupal/

Feldenkrais Method

Paralysis, Parkinson's, Pain & More

Moshé Feldenkrais was a Ukrainian-Israeli engineer and physicist, who made significant contributions to science, but as a result of his own injuries, became best known for a system of physical exercises he developed, the Feldenkrais Method, that aims to improve human functioning by increasing self-awareness through movement. 

 

Practitioners use gentle repeated movements and directed attention to help people retrain the brain and body to overcome muscle tone limitations caused by injury, disease and brain dysfunction.  People with Cerebral Palsy, Parkinson's, Autism and paralysis can experience lifelong improvements through the program, which may take 2-6 months of sessions.  Learn more about the program and find practitioners here: https://feldenkrais.com/

Designs for Strong Minds

Cognitive Enhancement & TBI, Stroke, Concussion Recovery

Dr. Donalee Markus's cognitive restructuring program, which she has been fine-tuning since the 70's, shifts the way individuals analyze and process information. Because the program changes the way in which you think, rather than working to address specific challenges, it has a wide range of efficacy, from helping individuals recover from TBI or stroke to helping children with ADHD, Dyslexia, or processing challenges improve their executive functioning and spatial awareness capabilities.  The program is also effective for professional development, most notably being used by NASA to enhance the creativity and problem-solving skills of Space Shuttle engineers.   

 

A key element of the program is the use of context-free games, both digital and paper.  The context-free component minimizes emotional engagement, enabling the brain's cognitive components to work unencumbered, which accelerates cognitive restructuring. This allows Dr. Markus's patients to see significant benefits in short time frames. 

 

In addition to being highlighted in Norman Doidge's book, "The Brain That  Changes Itself", you can read about the impact of Dr. Markus's therapy from a first-hand perspective in Clark Elliot's book "The  Ghost in My Brain.  Learn more about the program here: 

https://www.designsforstrongminds.com

Mirror Box Therapy

Chronic Pain, Muscle Weakness 

V.S. Ramachandran invented mirror therapy in the1990's for people experiencing phantom limb pain and it was extended to help stroke patients improve muscle control in weakened limbs.  Despite the introduction of mirror therapy in the late 1990s, little research was published on it before 2009.  Out of 115 publications between 2012 and 2017 about using mirror therapy to treat phantom limb pain, a 2018 review, found only 15 studies whose scientific results should be considered. From these 15 studies, the reviewers concluded that mirror therapy seems to be an effective low-cost therapy for relieving phantom limb pain.  Similarly, a 2017 review that studied a wider range of uses for mirror therapy, concluded that mirror therapy is effective in treating complex regional pain syndrome, neuropathy, and low back pain.  Physical therapists are the most typical providers. 

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