Matrix Repatterning for brain injuries

Treatment type: Matrix Repatterning

How to find: http://matrixrepatterning.com/Pa_practitioners

Price: Often $100-250.00 an hour

Credentials: Look for someone listed on the Matrix Repatterning website, they will include the designation CMRP after their name and other designations

What is it? From Matrix Repatterning

“a form of manual (hands-on) therapy, which is applied to the deeper, denser parts of the body, such as the skeletal framework (bone) and the dense fibrous tissues (fascia) associated with the internal core structures.  Areas of injury and strain may be precisely located based on an alteration in the mechanical and electrical properties within these tissues.  Treatment involves the application of gentle pressure in order to release tissue tension, which can facilitate the restoration of muscle tone, flexibility, joint mobility and optimal biomechanical function.”

Notes from our treatment:

Matrix Repatterning is another hands on modality we sought out during Jason’s recovery. It was mentioned in Norman Doidge‘s book The Brain’s Way of Healing and we are lucky enough to live 25 minutes away from the founder of the technique. Parts of the treatment reminded us of osteopathy in it’s holistic view of Jason’s body and injuries and the gentle manipulation used to treat injuries. The most stunning part of the appointment for us was that Dr. George Roth (the founder) spent almost an hour assessing Jason’s gait, balance, reflexes and range of motion. 7 months into Jason’s recovery this was the first objective assessment that had been done and the first time his tracking issues were brought to our attention (which we would later understand with behavioural optometry).

Treatments were weekly and again Jason was often able to fall asleep on the table. As with osteopathy he usually enjoyed a deep, long sleep post treatment. Based on Jason’s assessments the goal of Matrix Repatterning for him was to help with healing in the brain which should in turn minimize the differences in his reflexes and tracking issues. Unfortunately with goals as broad as that and a limited budget for care we were unable to continue treatments long enough to be sure if they were making a difference. We’ve talked to others, and certainly read stories, of people that experience tremendous results and swear by Matrix Repatterning so again I encourage you to do your own research.

Osteopathic manual treatments for brain injuries

Treatment type: Osteopathy

How to find: http://osteopathyontario.org/

Price: In Ontario often $90.00-150.00 an hour

Credentials: Look for someone registered with the Ontario Association of Osteopathic Manual Practitioners, they will have a designation like these:  D.O. (Diploma in Osteopathy) D.O.M.P., DOMTP,  BSc(Hons), BOst, or MOst

What is it? From the OAO

“Osteopathic Manual Practitioners maintain, improve or restore the normal physiological function of interrelated body structures and systems, and, enhance the body’s natural ability to heal itself. They use various manual assessment and treatment techniques and modalities to help people of all ages  and backgrounds, who suffer injury, pain or other health concerns, by easing pain, reducing swelling, improving tissue mobility and promoting efficient healing.”

Notes from our treatment:

Osteopathy was the first intervention Jason used and we had fabulous results. That being said another friend with post concussion syndrome found his symptoms exacerbated by one of the osteopaths we saw and relieved by a second. Again, you need to trust your body and your symptoms to decide if this is something you need to incorporate.

Jason found most of his osteopathic treatments to be gentle enough that he could sleep during his time on the table -often followed by a 12-14 hour sleep at home! As we’ve mentioned sleep is an extremely important part of recovery from TBI and post concussion syndrome so this a very happy result of osteopathic treatments.

Treatments seemed to revolve around lowering Jason’s stress levels and working on endocranial spasms which are present post injury. The first and only times we heard of endocranial spasms was with Jason’s osteopath and I have yet to find a good resource for explaining this phenomenon in laymen’s terms. My understanding is that it is quite literally a spasm in the brain due to trauma and osteopath’s are able to help release it. Other treatment goals included working to relieve tension through Jason’s back and whole body alignment.

Because the treatments were gentle and resulted in measurable changes in Jason’s sleep and alignment osteopathy became a very important part of his recovery. One of the osteopath’s we worked with was Ryan Richardson in Newmarket who has extensive history researching concussions and post concussion syndrome – I encourage everyone to check out his qualifications and abstract listed here: http://www.youroptimalhealth.ca/concussions.

Massage therapy post TBI

As a massage therapist, I’m fairly biased on this subject. I believe my colleagues and I can do a lot of work to contribute to pain reduction and calming down the nervous system. I’ve seen a lot of great benefits from registered massage therapy in the post concussion/ post TBI group but of course this remains an individual journey.

Treatment type: Registered Massage Therapy

How to find: http://www.cmto.com/

Price: In Ontario often $85.00-100.00 an hour

Credentials: Look for someone registered with the massage therapy college in your province, I’ve linked to Ontario’s college above

What is it? From the CMTO

“Massage therapy consists primarily of hands-on manipulation of the soft tissues of the body, specifically, the muscles, connective tissue, tendons, ligaments and joints for the purpose of optimizing health.”

Notes from our treatment:

Due to the visual issues Jason experienced (non diagnosed until 1 year into recovery) his gait changed drastically, from a strong confident man to a gait similar to that of a stroke survivor. One side shuffled more than walked and he had acute low back pain repeatedly in that first year.

Massage therapy with some of my colleagues in our hometown alleviated a lot of to his pain and helped even out tone between the two sides. Registered massage therapists are educated in anatomy and physiology and were able to assess his range of motion and tone throughout his upper body. While some areas were uncomfortable to be worked Jason always felt relief post treatment. Often the chance to lie down mid day and have a massage also lead to a deeper sleep in the evening.

As a massage therapist I find with most of the clients I work on slow, gentle manipulation goes much further than the adage “no pain, no gain”. It’s not necessary to be in pain throughout your whole treatment or feel like you’ve been hit by a truck post treatment. Registered Massage Therapists in Ontario are educated use range of motion exercises and stretching as part of their treatments which can help significantly if you are experiencing any symptoms of decreased mobility or coordination on one side. All treatments should be explained to you before you get on the table and your massage therapist should be checking in with you about pressure and if you understand and want the treatments they are proposing.

Finally, I’d like to remind everyone reading that in most treatment facilities some of the environment can be altered – I often turn off lights or music to help those with sensory issues post TBI. Your therapist may not know to suggest these accommodations so please ask for anything you need to maximize your benefits from the massage. Also don’t assume because you have a head injury your treatment must be localized to head and neck, as in Jason’s case often symptoms show up throughout the body and a global approach to treatment can be beneficial. Communication with your massage therapist is key and will help you decide if this is an intervention to include in your rehab program.

Treatments we’ve tried

A few weeks ago we spent some time outlining the traditional treatment options (OT, SLP, etc) that we pursued in Jason’s recovery.

Over the next few weeks we’re going to discuss some of the other treatments we’ve sought out such as osteopathy, Matrix repatterning and Naturopathic medicine. Of course we’ve already shared our story about how behavioural optometry has helped Jason and will continue to update how we see changes from that intervention.

It’s important to us to outline that not every treatment is right for every person and none of our stories should be taken as prescriptions or orders to seek out a new treatment. We’re lucky that I work in the health field and have called in favour after favour to get Jason seen by people I trust and refer to often. Within my practice I treat many individuals with traumatic brain injuries and we share stories and names of practitioners on a regular basis but that is no guarantee that results will be consistent. Every brain injury is different, every individual is coming into treatments at different levels of functioning and health and results will always vary. If a certain treatment story resonates with you I encourage you to read the links I include in every post and find a good fit for you. Geography and financial limitations will also come into play during your journey with TBI and you always need to make your own decisions that suit your lifestyle.

On the note of financials, there are a lot of studies that show that those with TBI often have to file for bankruptcy or are faced with financial troubles. In just over a year we’ve thrown about $40 000.00 at brain injury treatments (including lost income because that is part of recovery in my mind). No one, including us, can tell you what your financial investment should be in your brain or how you decide that. We’re gut reaction people, if research resonates with our story and the practitioner seems like a good fit that listens to both of us, we tend to try our hardest to afford the treatment. If a treatment doesn’t seem to change Jason’s quality of life within the first few sessions we will always discuss with the practitioner but then decide for ourselves when to stop treatments. We try our best to not regret our decisions but there’s never any clear answers.

I am sure you are doing your best with recovery and we only want to share our experiences to offer options. This remains a very individual journey so please make your own decisions with care and be gentle to yourself.

Online support groups post traumatic brain injury

We’re lucky we’re living this life in the age of the internet. Most of our helpful resources and advice have come from articles and information that we’ve found online, that I doubt I would have discovered without internet. Support groups for traumatic brain injuries and post concussion syndrome are flourishing on Facebook.

These groups can be very useful but come with a unique set of challenges. Here are some things to keep in mind while searching for advice online:

  • As we all know some TBI survivors have issues with memory, self regulation, or depression (among other things). This means some posts will be made again and again, some may be sad, some may be inappropriate. Have patience with those sharing their thoughts and feelings and try to remember where they are coming from. This is even more important if you are a caregiver speaking to those with TBI, we will NEVER really understand how they feel or the struggles they face and it is essential we do not come across as preachy or instructive. Be grateful for the stories they share with you and try to learn from everyone.
  • This is still the internet. Do not accept diagnosis’ from anyone, nor change medications or treatment plans without speaking to your team of medical professionals. Use the information shared in these groups to come up with questions for your doctor, or lead you to research new treatments or literature.
  • There are people that join these groups to try to take advantage of those with disabilities. Please do not ever give you personal or financial information out to anyone from these groups and don’t arrange to meet anyone in private.
  • Monitor your own posts. If you’ve had good success with a treatment or vitamin, feel free to share but do not offer false promises or prescriptions. For example you can say “Taking X supplement has reduced my headaches from a 9/10 pain, to 2/10. Here is a link to look into it”. Please don’t say “Taking X supplement has fixed my brain injury. It’s the only thing you need, start taking it now” .

With these ideas in mind Facebook, and other blogs and social media can offer support during this hard journey. Some great groups I’ve learned from on Facebook include TBI Tribe, Spouse of TBI Support,  and Closed Head Injury Support Group.

Book Reviews: Norman Doidge

Norman Doidge is a Canadian Psychiatrist and the author of The Brain That Changes Itself and The Brain’s Way of Healing. His non fiction books introduced the concept of neuroplasticity to the general public and changed the way many thought of brain injuries and neurological problems.

If you ask health care professionals most either loved these books and were reinvigorated by the treatment options for those they had lost hope for, or they scoffed at these ideas of new science. I think it’s safe to say you want to be treated by the group that has hope for you and a new dedication to reading literature and research. That’s not to say each treatment Doidge discusses will work for everyone but certainly there are options available now that we didn’t know about 10 years ago. It’s exciting to have hope and to feel acknowledged by the health care community and that is what I’ve heard most often from readers of these books -they are delighted to have options. The idea that they will never improve has vanished and they are left feeling excited about recovery again.

We had the opportunity to hear Doidge speak about his second book, The Brain’s Way of Healing, and he is a very compelling speaker. I encourage everyone to google him and check out some of his interviews. In this second book he mentions two treatments specifically that relate to traumatic brain injuries – Matrix Repatterning and Dr. Kahn’s Bioflex lasers. We’re in a pretty luck position as to live 30 minutes from the founder of Matrix Repatterning and about an hour from Dr. Kahn. At this point we have pursued Matrix Repatterning and will discuss Jason’s results in the near future.

These books may not provide the same insight into symptoms or lifestyle that others I’ve reviewed do but they provide a very progressive view of the brain that I think is essential to recovery. The broad strokes are that the brain can rewire and fix itself if you provide it with the opportunity too, so your journey with TBI is never finished unless you decide it is. In each book certain treatments may seem applicable to you, others won’t but the science behind it all is compelling and deserves to be understood.

10 Ways YOU Can Help!

Uncomfortable with “feelings” talk? We’ve all been there. It doesn’t mean you need to feel (or act) like a jerk. Here’s 10 practical ways you can help a friend or family member with TBI. Seriously, anyone that did any of these in our first year was considered a super hero in my mind. Amy Zellmer has done a great job of explaining why these actions would be appreciated and when they are helpful to implement so read mindfully and then enjoy being someone’s superhero!

9 Things NOT to Say to Someone with a TBI

This is not my list but actually an article that started on brainline.org and has been shared with me by tons of friends and family wondering how accurate it is.

Have a peek at the 9 Things NOT to Say to Someone with a TBI.

The author of this article has done an exceptional job at outlining the worst statements we heard in Jason’s first year of life with a TBI. I highly encourage everyone to read this article and file it away in your brain for use around your loved ones.

 

Brain Games

One of the occupational therapists Jason worked with encouraged him to check out Lumosity as a tool for working his brain at home.

There are mixed reviews from scientists about if programs such as Lumosity work at improving intelligence or if it’s just a matter of getting quicker and more efficient at their games. I have no insight other than, the OT told Jason to do it and it’s an affordable enough treatment that he continues to do it. In fact we looked into a few options for training his brain (why do a little when you can do a lot right?).

Lumosity has an app for iphone and Android. The free version has 3 games a day which has been enough for Jason’s needs/attention span. There is a paid option that unlocks more games every day but it just doesn’t seem worth it when it’s important to limit screen time etc post injury.

Elevate is set up similarly, with 3 games a day for free and more if you purchase the premium edition. Again we haven’t felt the need because the free edition has been awesome.

Lumosity games seem to focus on spatial reasoning and flexible thinking whereas Elevate has more games focusing on spelling, grammar and reading. 3 games on each every day has provided a very well rounded brain workout in our home! It’s a popular business and I’m sure there are many other companies with apps out there but these ones work for us. I think the important piece with using these tools is self regulation – if the screen time gives you headaches or other symptoms this might not be a great option for you. It’s also important not to overdo it – if you spend an hour playing on your phone that is still an hour you aren’t doing other things that may be beneficial for your care. Exercise, hands on tasks and rest are all other practical ways of helping your brain recover that should not be forgotten just because you have your phone in hand!