Sweet Grass Talking, by Renee Roman Nose. Upcoming Spoken Word CD- River of Life
IASIS Micro Current Neurofeedback
(320) 593-3100. Litchfieldeyecenter.com
In celebration of the 200th episode of the “Faces of TBI” podcast, host Amy Zellmer discusses the 10 most common misconceptions about concussions. She offers explanations about each misconception and provides feedback on how to utilize the proper information. Amy also discusses her own experience with TBIs and where her journey has taken her over the years.
Points of Interest:
(00:18) Celebrating the 200th episode with 10 common concussion misconceptions
(2:52) First: biggest misconception is that concussion and brain injury are two different things. According to the CDC, a concussion is a form of TBI.
(4:00) Second: you need to hit your head and lose consciousness to get a concussion, less than 20% report loss of consciousness.
(5:26) Third: that you need to have multiple symptoms. Symptoms include headache, nausea, vomiting, and mood changes. You only need to have ONE symptom to classify a concussion.
(6:49) Fourth: a helmet or mouth guard will prevent a concussion. They can prevent serious injury, but they can’t protect you from a concussion. If your brain moves around in your skull, that can lead to a concussion.
(8:30) Fifth: Concussions resolve themselves in four to six weeks. While 80% might resolve in that timeframe, 20% will have lingering symptoms.
(9:36) Sixth: an MRI can show if you’ve been concussed or not. MRIs show brain bleeding and shearing, but not concussions.
(11:04) Seventh: Concussions are “mild” TBIs. The mild/moderate/severe scale only diagnoses the symptoms at onset, usually dealing with memory and consciousness. Mild TBIs have a loss of consciousness for less than 30 minutes. This doesn’t mean there won’t be lingering effects or that symptoms are ‘mild.’
(14:34) Eighth: all concussions and recoveries are the same. No two recoveries (or initial incidents) will be the same, people are all very different.
(17:21) Ninth: you have to stay in a quiet, dark room for weeks after the concussion. The CDC revised their statement on treating concussions, stating that you can resume everyday activities as soon as possible, usually after 48 hours. If things start to become too much, back off. Too much rest can make you backslide.
(21:49) Tenth: if you have a concussion, take Ibuprofen or Aspirin. On the off chance you have brain bleeding, these medications will actually make it worse. Tylenol is the better option. Or take nothing.
(29:06) Everything connects to the brain and connected, and that’s why functional neurology is so important to recovery: it takes everything into account.
Thank you to our amazing presenters as well as the cast and crew from Quiet Explosions. Shout-out to the hundreds of amazing humans who joined us for our live virtual event!
Below are the replay videos of the event (part 1 and 2) … Also. please help support our sponsors who made this day possible by clicking on their logos below! Be sure to grab your #NOTINVISIBLE care package and show your TBI pride all year long!
Thank you to our event sponsors!!
Click on any logo to visit their website
This anthology brings together 20 experts from around the country who share with you their advice and experience working with patients with brain injury.
As you explore the chapters, you’ll read about the numerous ways brain injury survivors can THRIVE in their recovery, often after traditional medicine left them struggling for answers. Additionally, you’ll learn about different symptoms associated with brain injury (headaches, dysautonomia, eye tracking, brain fog, dizziness, thyroid disorders, and more), as well as the importance of understanding your legal rights.
If you or your loved one has suffered a brain injury, this book offers you a wealth of information, but, more importantly, also offers you HOPE!
Never lose hope — no matter how many years since your injury occurred, or how many doctors have told you they can’t do anything for you. There truly are providers and professionals who understand exactly what you’re going through, and how to help you achieve the quality of life you’ve been seeking. Twenty of those caring professionals share their knowledge and experience in this book.
Yoga is something that I have done since college (if you promise not to do math, I’ll simply say I’ve been doing yoga for 20+ years).
There was a period of time when I considered going through the teacher training program and becoming a yoga instructor but never had the time to get it done. Then the pandemic of 2020 hit, and was the perfect time to get my 200 hour YTT, as well as a trauma-informed yoga teacher certification, and yoga therapy certification.
Why, you ask?!
You don’t understand yoga’s true, full potential until you’ve gone through a life-changing physical trauma. Knowing what I know now, I have a deeper love and appreciate for yoga; a greater understanding of it’s powerful healing benefits.
In February of 2014 I slipped on a patch of black ice on an inclined driveway. I had zero warning as my feet went up into the air and my skull made full impact with the frozen asphalt. Amazingly, I walked away with my life — I am still in awe at the incredible resilience of one’s skull and how much of an impact it can actually take.
What I did sustain in the fall included: a severe concussion (later referred to as a traumatic brain injury, or TBI for short), major whiplash, c4/c5 damage in my neck, torn muscles in my neck, throat, abdomen, and chest, and a dislocated sternum.
Sounds like a load of fun, huh?
As we began addressing the physical injuries, I was unaware of the journey I was starting inside my head. A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a very complicated and invisible injury, and one that many professionals (as well as friends and family) just don’t quite understand. I was frustrated when doctors wouldn’t listen to me, or would simply tell me that I will feel better in a few weeks. Every few weeks would start a new cycle of pain, grief, and anxiety.
After about 15 months of feeling pained, isolated, depressed, and anxious I reached out to a yoga instructor friend of mine.
Because of the dislocated sternum, I wasn’t able to lift my hands much higher than my shoulder and couldn’t take a full, deep breath. Because of the TBI I suffered from dizzy, balance, and neck mobility issues. I also noticed I would drag my right foot and my right arm did not move in motion with my walk — both of which are a neurological problem.
My dear friend helped me come up with FIVE yoga poses that I could do without feeling like I would fall over or causing me pain and discomfort.
Five poses. That was it.
They included: cat-cow pose, puppy dog (child’s) pose, tree pose (with the help of a chair for balance), eagle arm pose, and side twists while lying down.
After a few days of doing these five poses for about 10-15 minutes, I started noticing a difference. I was able to breathe deeper than I had since the accident, my flexibility was coming back (slowly), and my dizzy and balance issues were starting to bother me less. My range of motion was growing every single time I did yoga.
I gradually added in some of my favorite poses as I felt ready, for a single breath. I would go into down-dog pose and warrior pose just to see if I could. I would hold it for one breath, and then two. I eventually got brave enough to try side angel, which is my ultimate favorite post (and the one pictured above). I was thrilled that I was able to do it, at least with a block to assist me.
Now that I am just over seven years out from my accident, I am an advocate for TBI awareness, I am teaching yoga to a greater audience. I not only want to raise awareness, I want to help other survivors. Which brings me back to my point about teacher training. While you do not need an actual license/certificate to teach yoga, I wanted to go through proper training so that I know how to keep my students safe, while helping survivors find some comfort and peace in yoga, the way that I did.
Yoga for every BODY.
EVERYONE can do yoga, even those who think you have to be “flexible” to do it. Yoga is an individual activity, one in which you only do what you can. It can be modified to fit your injury, and some poses can even be done from a hospital bed. There are amazing benefits to doing yoga, and I hope that my experience can help another survivor decide to give it a try!
Join me for my weekly accessible yoga practice for only $10 a month through my Patreon membership site. To get a taste of my yoga style, CLICK HERE for a 20-minute Brain Yoga practice.
I hear from so many of you on a regular basis who are struggling to find the right doctor to help you. I wanted to make it a little bit easier to help match you with the RIGHT doctor for your specific needs and situation. Even in the Functional Neurology and Functional Medicine world, not all doctors treat all symptoms, and each of them specializes in their own unique program.
Dr. Steadman and I have teamed together to bring you a virtual “match maker” so to speak! By filling out a google form with your symptoms, date of injury, and who you have already worked with, we will be better served to help match you to a doctor who serves your specific needs, and we will do our best to find one closest to you — but do keep in mind that there aren’t many of them, and you may have to travel a little ways — so please do keep an open mind.
After filling out the form, you will hear from Integrated Brain Center’s amazing staff … they will set up a 15 minute call with you and either Dr Steadman or Dr Maynard who will go through your form and ask more questions before recommending a specific doctor (or two) for you to consider.
Due to the amount of time we are putting into to helping you, we ask that you please only fill out the form if you are truly serious about working with a doctor who specializes in helping TBI patients — knowing that most of them are going to be out of network for insurance companies. It will be up to you to check with your insurance company and see if they will reimburse for any of your treatment (many insurance companies cover approx. half the cost).
As we begin the New Year, I am reflecting on all for which I have to be grateful. Towards the top of that list is finding a functional neurologist who has been instrumental in helping me rehab my brain injury.
I started this journey in February of 2014 after slipping on a patch of ice…and I can still hear the sound of my skull hitting the ice-covered concrete.
I immediately found a chiropractic neurologist who helped me with my whiplash, torn muscles, and dislocated sternum. He diagnosed me as having a severe concussion and told me I should start feeling better in about 4–6 weeks.
I kept complaining that I felt my eyes weren’t quite right, and that I was experiencing a lot of short-term memory problems and aphasia, as well as major dizzy and balance issues. He eventually sent me to a neurologist who didn’t seem to believe my issues were a problem (even though I couldn’t touch my nose with my pointer finger). When I later read her reports I had to laugh. She had stated that I was dressed nicely and was well-groomed, where in fact I hadn’t showered in days and was wearing the same yoga pants and sweatshirt I had been wearing for about 3 days — had she inquired, I would have outright admitted this to her!!
She eventually sent me for a neuropsychological exam to measure my deficits. After a grueling four-hour test designed to make you face your weaknesses, I scheduled a meeting with the neuro psychologist the following week. She very kindly explained to me the nature of the test, how it measures deficits, and how it is essentially “fake proof.” She then implied that I must have been faking because I scored too poorly in memory, that my scores were lower than a patient with dementia. After spending about 70 minutes with me, she assessed that I should be put on Ritalin, anti depressants, and sleep medication. I refused all three because I knew they wouldn’t actually “heal” me, and would be only a temporary crutch.
I had been begging every neuro doctor I saw for help. I didn’t know what type of therapy I needed, but I knew I needed something — cognitive, occupational, vision, anything that would help me get back to the person I used to be. The dizziness was sucking all the life out of me, and the short-term memory problems were causing quite a challenge to function in every-day settings.
I was incredibly frustrated as I went back to my neurologist about a year later. After a brief assessment, she told me because it was over a year since my injury that none of the therapies would likely help me. WHAT?? Then why on earth didn’t she send me earlier? I was confused, frustrated, and felt hopeless.
As a last resort the neurologist did eventually send me to a cranial sacral therapist who was the first person to help me find any sort of relief. His gentle treatment helped realign the skull plates that had been causing pressure inside my head. After several treatments, I felt a lot of relief from the “brain fog” that had been a 24/7 nuisance.
After two and a half years of struggling through life with a brain injury, my eyes were finally opened to the practice of Functional Neurology.
To be honest, I was skeptical. Every doctor I had seen up to this point had discouraged me, and my neurologist told me there was basically no hope for further recovery (even though I had learned that recovery can happen at ANY point after your injury).
My initial exam took almost two hours — TWO HOURS!! No doctor had spent more than a half hour with me up to this point.
My exam consisted of checking my:
heart rate & blood pressure
visual eye tracking (VNG)
quick eye movements (saccades)
optokinetic reflexes (OPK)
Vestibular Ocular Reflexes (VOR)
Chiropractic structural examinationzMy testing showed the following results:
My autonomic nervous system was too sympathetic (startle response).
My resting heart rate was too high.
My gaze holding ability was questionable.
All planes of my smooth pursuit eye movements were impaired.
I was unsteady standing on flat surfaces, and would fall backwards when I closed my eyes.
Spatial awareness and depth perception were impaired.
My walking gait was impaired
I had diminished sensation on the left side of my face and body.
My visual and auditory reaction times were off.This doctor validated every single thing that I had been feeling. He said that we needed to work on all of the systems together and get them working properly again. He told me that the majority of my issues was coming from my eyes, and that we needed to retrain my eyes how to work properly. It was so comforting to know that I wasn’t crazy at all — it was just that those other doctors had been ignoring all of my issues because they weren’t trained in what to look for related to traumatic brain injuries and concussions (which is widely misunderstood by medical professionals).
Functional neurology is a way of thinking and assessing the nervous system by looking at what’s working well, what isn’t working, and what might be working too much. It’s about developing strategies to build better plasticity in how your nervous system is working. Dr. Schmoe believes that functional neurology should be a basic requirement in all medical and healthcare fields – but unfortunately it is not.
My doctor gained his knowledge by attending the Carrick Institute for those who have already graduated from the chiropractic program. The Carrick Institute program is an additional three years of training beyond chiropractic school. It is designed to give a deeper education and understanding of how the nervous system works and how to treat problems that arise as the result of a brain injury or disease. They offer courses to providers of al disciplines, including medical doctors, physical therapists, naturopaths, etc.
The doctor gave me treatment plans for each of my systems that weren’t working, which included:
Gaze-stability exercises and vestibular rehab
tilt table with electric stimulation to calm my startle reflex
sensory stimulation on the left side of my body
finger-to-nose cerebellum training on the left side
ARP wave simulation on my neck (whiplash)
Doctor applied FNOR techniques on my shoulder and scapula
FNOR physical rehabilitation exercises to strengthen neck, core, and lower extremities
Prologel to lessen inflammation in my neck from my whiplash that hadn’t healed
D2 exercises to increase my hand-eye reaction times
interactive metronome exercises to increase my auditory reaction times
blood chemistry workup to check for anemia, infections, inflammation, auto immune disorders, thyroid and blood sugar levels
dietary and nutrition supplements
Within just two weeks of working on gaze-stabilization and eye-tracking exercises, I was no longer feeling dizzy and off-balance. Dealing with dizziness 24/7 was a major energy suck, and I was starting to notice I now had more energy to get things done during the day than I had had since my accident.
I was starting to gain back feeling in the left side of my body, and my startle response was settling down. As a result of all of this, my anxiety levels were diminishing. It’s amazing how your body responds when you are no longer constantly living in a high pain threshold. I was finally able to go several weeks without a headache (which was great since I had been having headaches on an all-too-regular basis).
Now this isn’t to say that I am “fixed” …. I still have a long way to go. But I am finally feeling better than I have since February 2014. I wish I had found Functional Neurology a year earlier; then who knows where I would be in my recovery right now!
It astounds me how one doctor could improve so many of my symptoms with “simple” techniques, yet a plethora of trained neurological doctors didn’t do ANYTHING for me. This is why I am so passionate about the advocacy work that I do. Millions of brain injury survivors have not had proper treatment and were basically disregarded by the medical community — and written off by the psychologists as having “mental” issues rather than “physical” issues.
Some professionals have gone so far as to say that universally “everyone as a brain injury” now as a result of the media talking about concussions and sports. The reality is that we are just now beginning to understand the severity of concussions … and people who were injured decades ago are just now beginning to understand why they’ve felt and acted the way they have for so many years — as their brain injury went undiagnosed.
With proper treatment, the brain and neurological system has an amazing way of rewiring itself. The key is early detection and diagnosis, in combination with a trained doctor who understand how to best treat you … and NOT brush you off or disregard your concerns.
Gut health is SO important for healthy brain health, as well as mental health.
Everyone experiences digestive problems at some point, but when they become more common they can have a big effect on your daily life. There have also been several studies that show that your gut health is related to your mental health as well. So, what can you do to improve your digestive health?
Today, I’m sharing 5 tips to naturally improve your digestive health.
Your digestive system breaks down foods and liquids into their chemical components, meaning it breaks them down into carbohydrates, fats, proteins, etc. Then, the body can absorb it as nutrients and use it for energy or to build or repair cells.
If your digestive health is out of whack, it can cause everything from heartburn, ulcer, diverticulitis, gallstones and diarrhea to depression and anxiety.
So, what can you do to improve your digestive health to feel better day to day, but also to help prevent long term health issues?
1.Eat more fiber! A high-fiber diet has been linked to a reduced risk of digestive conditions, including ulcers, reflux, hemorrhoids, diverticulitis and IBS. Eat things like, oat bran, legumes, nuts, seeds, vegetables and whole grains.
2. Eat healthy fats! Fat helps you feel satisfied after a meal and is needed for proper nutrient absorption. Also, studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids may decrease your risk of developing inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis. Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids include flaxseeds, chia seeds, nuts, and fatty fish like salmon.
3. Drink your H20! Low fluid intake is a common cause of constipation. You should be drinking half of your bodyweight in water daily. For example, if you weigh 150lbs, you should drink at least 75oz. Of water per day. If you don’t like water, add flavor like fruit to your water or drink herbal teas. Also, try to avoid too many caffeinated drinks that will dehydrate you.
4. Eat real food! Stay away from the processed crap! Processed foods like low-calorie drinks and ice creams often contain artificial sweeteners, which may cause digestive problems.
One study found that eating 50 grams of the artificial sweetener xylitol led to bloating and diarrhea in 70% of people, while 75 grams of the sweetener erythritol caused the same symptoms in 60% of people.
Your digestive system is not made to digest fake food, it’s meant to digest real food. Honor your body!
5. Move everyday! Exercise and gravity help food travel through your digestive system. Even if it’s just something as simple as a short walk after eating, instead of immediately sitting down, it will naturally help keep everything moving!
Which one of these tips are you going to put into action today? Let us know in the comments, which tip are you going to use immediately to help improve your digestion?
Did you know that chronic inflammation has been found to be a precursor to almost every chronic disease and chronic disease? And that it affects 133 million Americans?
Right now, that may look like slow and steady weight gain, sleep disturbances, joint pain, migraines, brain fog, and fatigue, and over time these symptoms will get worse.And you may not even realize that the food you’re putting in your body is causing acute inflammation now that can lead to serious problems later.
The problem is that a lot of people don’t even realize that they have signs of chronic inflammation or if they do, they don’t know what the long term effects are or what they can do to fix it now.
Today, we’re going to talk about the signs of inflammation and what you should be doing about it to help prevent some serious chronic conditions and to just help you feel better on a daily basis because if you’re bloated and tired all of the time you’re not going to feel your best.
What is inflammation? It isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Inflammation is how your body tries to protect itself. It’s your body’s way of protecting itself.
Think back on the last time you stubbed your toe or got a tiny paper cut. Your skin puffs up and it turns pink. What you’re seeing is fluid rushing to that location to try to heal the tissue. Or Have you ever tried a new workout and then the next day everything is sore and hurts? You have muscles you didn’t even realize you had. You probably noticed that your body felt kind of tight, swollen, achy, and sore. Well, that is inflammation. It’s a good thing. It’s healing your tissues.
Bodily inflammation is weight in fluids that you may have been carrying around for years simply because you’re eating foods that are inflammatory for YOU.
Basically anything that stresses your body out is a cue for your body to protect itself. It’s our first line of defense. I mean, we’re pretty good at taking care of ourselves. When your body gets the message that it needs to heal, it sends inflammation to that area. Now, there’s two different types of inflammation. You’re going to know these. The first one is what we call acute inflammation. If you’ve ever rolled your ankle, stubbed your toe, or got a sliver in your finger, the inflammation comes on suddenly. The second type of inflammation is what we call chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation builds up over time slowly, over days, weeks, months, decades. We often don’t even notice it. It’s also the root cause of so many diseases.
Chronic inflammation is what happens when we’re repeatedly exposed to something that our body sees as foreign, even though we might not see it as foreign.
In other words, you can go into the grocery store and see a bag of chips that looks familiar to you, but it’s filled with chemicals and fake ingredients. Even though you can eat it and you’re not going to get sick, your body still, because of evolution, sees it as a foreign object, the result of which, consuming fake foods for years and years, is the buildup of chronic inflammation.
Chronic inflammation is the cause of almost all disease. Chronic inflammation can cause diseases such as: rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, IBS, heart disease, and so many more. Just about any disease of the brain or the immune system can be directly linked back to chronic inflammation.
Then, it’s really easy to pack on the pounds even when you’re like, “I don’t get it. I’m exercising like crazy. I’m eating the right foods and I’m counting calories.”
Inflammation can also be caused by an infection or a food sensitivity, even a food sensitivity to something that should be healthy.
So what types of food cause inflammation?
Some are obvious like high fructose corn syrup and processed crap, like artificial trans fats, vegetable and seed oils, refined carbohydrates and processed meat.
But some aren’t as obvious like seasoning mixes, agave and peanuts.
Plus, you will notice that some foods aren’t on a list, but they seem to affect you and that’s because food affects people differently.
That’s why it’s so important to make notes about how you feel after eating so that you can cut out the food that is causing inflammation for you and start eliminating that food from your diet.
Now let me clear, does this mean that you can never have a cupcake or ice cream again? Definitely not, because that’s not realistic, but it’s going to make you much more aware. It’s going to make you stop and think about if it’s really worth it and the goal is to limit it to special occasions or when you’re truly craving it not as a dessert every night.
So, first thing you need to do to eliminate inflammation is keep a food diary for a few days, write down everything you eat and how you feel afterwards.
Second, start adding more anti-inflammatory food like berries (strawberries, blueberries, etc.), fatty fish like salmon. Avocado and broccoli are great superfoods that have tons of other benefits too! Also, drink green tea or add turmeric to your meals to help with inflammation.
Keep a food diary for the next 3 days. Write down everything that you eat and how you feel afterwards and then let us know what you learned. Let us know what foods leave you feeling bloated or tired or in a brain fog so that you can cut them out of your diet and prevent inflammation!