Floatation Shows Promise for Brain Injury Awareness

Read This If You Have Lost Your Mind (or have a brain injury)

Floatation therapy shows promise for brain injury.  Brain research is a rapidly developing field, but there remains much that we do not understand about how the brain operates. Traumatic brain injury and concussion are significant disabilities involving a large age range. Identification and treatment for traumatic brain injury ("TBI") and concussion is currently in a state of development and awareness, largely influenced by growing scrutiny in the National Football League and the U.S. military. 

Seth MacFarlane brilliantly uses humor in a recent Family Guy episode - "Stewie gets a concussion" - to demonstrate how lingering side effects ( disorientation, mood disorders and various sensory disturbances) essentially become an individual's “new normal.”

A Richmond, VA individual who is currently suffering from a TBI lifestyle, echoes the sentiments of Family Guy’s concussion episode, when she recently stated, “I already knew the world doesn't like talking about matters of the brain - things brain injury, recovery, rehab, mental health, addiction, suicide, trauma, sensory disorders, cognitive function, etc”… This brings home the sentiment of MacFarlane’s poking at the way in which the big, political business of professional sports, as well as our own military has played a key role in furthering this hidden epidemic from mainstream consciousness.  

Regardless of the increasing awareness of TBI, we are just beginning to understand the depths of the brain and how to repair it.  Further, because of the extent, quantity and quality of symptoms that vary from person to person, there is no consensus on the best method in which to treat TBI induced migraine, visual and auditory hallucinations, mood disorders, executive functioning, sleep disorder, and much more with a tried and true treatment - especially when many who suffer a TBI don’t even realize they have a TBI for many months after their original trauma.  Misdiagnosis happens. Some with TBI think they are just depressed. Anxious. Forgetful. Some get lost in the “system” and emerge without a concrete therapeutic direction.

Unfortunately, TBI not only affect those with the brain injury, but their family and friends.  It takes a unique understanding, compassion and patience from loved ones.  It can be incredibly frustrating for both parties and the affects of friendships and family can be catastrophic.      

As a sports chiropractor having studied the brain and central nervous system, as well as learning concussion, return to play (and work) protocols, I have long understood the devastating impact that concussive forces can have on the brain and its control of both the body and mind. I have worked with professional athletes and seen how concussions can interrupt a career.  

Being a float center owner with a neuro-musculo-skeletal lens, it has opened up a window in my mind as to a whole new world of possibility for those suffering with the effects of mild TBI and TBI. In my time in the sports medicine world, there were often days and months when particular conditions such as fibromyalgia, disc herniations or a complicated pain referral pattern would pervade the schedule.  It made me pay extra attention and often gave pause for reflection on making sure to consider other tandem treatment options that may leverage the healing process.  In my growing expertise in the floatation therapy world, I am noticing that many are seeking out floatation as a way to leverage their healing process. Some float in combination with physical therapy.  Some float in combination with counseling, massage, energy work, medications, functional medical approaches, exercise therapy, acupuncture, and much more.  Floating appears to assist any TBI therapeutic mind/body approach.  But floating, like the brain is still not well-known. 

Floatation or restricted environmental stimulus therapy ( R.E.S.T. ), involves effortlessly floating face up in a private room, in an oversized fiberglass tub that is filled with 10” of skin temperature (93-94 degree) water and saturated with 1000 pounds of Epsom salt (Magnesium Sulfate).  The premise is to remove routine environmental and physical stimulation, such as light, sound, and gravity.  You can choose to modify the level of sensory restriction by leaving the lid of the pod open or closed, being in complete darkness or leaving the light on, complete silence or listening to ambient music.  Regardless, you are floating effortlessly and your brain likes it.  Our brains spend a lot of time processing our orientation in space, as well as sights, sounds, walking, driving, digital imagery and more. We never unplug.  R.E.S.T. gives the brain a chance to rest. Through the peculiar sense of brain rest and rejuvenation that occurs with floating, it would stand to reason that what Norman Doidge, MD discusses in his bestselling books on neuroplasticity, or the brain's ability to rewire itself, could apply directly to floating. And this may be key in unlocking some of the secrets of the brain and how to heal itself.  

Functional MRI has already shown areas of the brain commonly affected by TBI that are stimulated by R.E.S.T.  Case studies exist, such as the ones being done at The Float Zone in Richmond, VA., which take into account physical, emotional, neurological and psychological aspects of individuals currently coping with traumatic brain injury of various duration and disability.  Other studies are encouraging and shed hope to floating as a viable option to include as part of an overall TBI recovery regimen.

The rapidly emerging industry of R.E.S.T. along with the growing interest and awareness of concussion and TBI is bound for a positive collision course, for the greater good of the brain injury community.  R.E.S.T. may help to pave the way for an improved integration, cooperation and communication between medical and alternative medical treatment services. If you or someone you know has a TBI, floatation should seriously be considered.  If you or someone you know is a mind/body healthcare provider of any type, R.E.S.T. should be on the radar. 

For more on floating and concussion/TBI, contact Dr. David Berv at The Float Zone: david@myfloatzone.com   www.myfloatzone.com

 

Typical Float pod in private room with shower

Typical Float pod in private room with shower