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 like 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.  

Case studies are currently 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.  In one such case study, the subject is a 39 year-old female dentist with a moderate-severe traumatic brain injury following a major motor vehicle accident 14 months prior.  Symptoms include fatigue, brain fog, confusion, depression, anxiety, sleep disturbance, headaches and other, directly related to her brain injury.  She has not found any treatment or combinations of treatment that have been remarkably helpful. The case study observes effects of floatation therapy upon various physical, emotional, neurological and psychological aspects. The results are encouraging.  Click here to read the abstract      (coming soon). For the full case study, contact Dr. David Berv ( see below).

The rapidly emerging industry of Floatation Therapy, 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.  Floatation and 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

Floating favors faulty foot mechanics

As our physical activity patterns change seasonally, the beginning of spring inspires a myriad of movements dormant during the winter.  Akin to spring training in sports, we all have our own ways of warming up our muscles and minds for our favorite outdoor activity. For most, this includes more walking, running, and cycling at various combinations of speeds, grades, and directions.  Tennis anyone?  

Rarely, does anyone think about evaluating their sense of foot stability and balance prior to beginning a season of (sport-specific) activity. It is precisely this oversight that can lead to issues like plantar fascitis, shin splints, achilles tendonitis and a variety of collateral muscular and skeletal issues.

A lack of proper 1-legged balance implicates the entire rest of the body from a structural standpoint. Especially during walking and running, there is a transfer of movement up the body, from the ankle to the shin, knee, leg, pelvis and spine, including the neck. This gives way to compensations in multiple ways, including stability, mobility and muscular balance far distant from the lower legs and feet - including those with both flat feet and high arches. Yes, your headaches and shoulder pain could be coming from your feet.

Improving your sense of 1- legged balance is the simplest and most effective exercise you can do to improve your gait and overall functional body mechanics. Proper pedal balance is also the keystone to athletic performance. It is the best way to reduce injury and may likely prevent that next ankle sprain. 

Test your balance by simply standing on one leg with your eyes straight ahead and lift the other leg so the thigh is parallel to the ground. How long can you stand without faltering and/or falling? (Be near something solid to hold if needed).  If you still think you have a good sense of balance, try each leg as above, with eyes closed. It will be very obvious which side needs some help.  

The corrective exercise only takes seconds per day and is exactly like the test. Simply stand on one leg while lifting the other and looking straight ahead - not at the floor. It is harder without shoes. You can even do this discreetly at the water cooler or grocery store line by simply shifting most of your weight to one side and barely making floor contact with the other foot. Try variations of this with eyes open and closed (use caution with eyes closed).

If you have or are currently suffering with foot problems or regional body pain caused by faulty foot mechanics, floatation therapy can help. Floating involves a 9'x5' fiberglass pod with a hinged lid, that sits in a private room with a shower. It is filled with 10" of skin temperature water (160 gallons) and saturated with 1000 pounds of medical grade epsom salt. You effortlessly float face up (like a cork), for an hour and emerge feeling different in body and mind. When you are in the anti-gravity state of floating, it is very easy to move your feet, knees, hips and shoulders through ranges of motion that you can't while weight-bearing. Further, you absorb Magnesium through the high concentration of Epsom salt (Magnesium sulfate). This is soothing for the muscles and assists many other body systems. Floating affects regions of the brain that promote rest and repair as well as the areas that process the perception of pain.

Floatation therapy is excellent for providing a strong mental balance to combat stress, anxiety and sleep-deprivation. So, as you begin your athletic endeavors this season, take a moment and work on your sense of balance to improve and protect your overall musculoskeletal health. And take comfort in knowing that floating and foot mechanics are friends.

For more on foot mechanics and floating, contact Dr. David Berv at The Float Zone:  david@myfloatzone.com   

Example of pod in which you effortlessly float to assist Physical and mental well-being

Example of pod in which you effortlessly float to assist Physical and mental well-being

Controlled Breathing Leverages Floating

Deep breathing makes for better floating

Deep breathing makes for better floating


Most of us are not aware of it.  It goes on even while we sleep. We often hold it.  But we can’t live without doing it constantly.  When was the last time you paid attention to your breathing?

Most of us unconsciously take short, shallow breaths during our waking and sleeping hours. This tends to gather tension in your neck and shoulders.  Shallow chest breathing has been associated with TMJ issues, poor digestion, low back pain and even decreased athletic performance. 

Many health and wellness practices such as meditation, martial arts and yoga use breathing as a keystone. Professional athletes like tennis players and golfers use their breath to harness power through a purposeful exhale at impact. 

Health practitioners such as acupuncturists encourage their patients to belly breathe while receiving treatment, which helps the flow of internal energy. Many have learned how to use their breath in this way, to diffuse pain. 

Have ever tried to consciously pay attention to your breathing for any length of time? Challenging.  Have you ever gone snorkeling and heard your breath under water? And then you realize you don’t hear it anymore. Then it comes back. And you realize, that once you are aware of it, you can control it.  You can slow it down. Keep it quiet, rhythmic.  This is actually a familiar sensation to those who have floated - you might know it as floatation, float therapy or restricted environmental stimulus therapy. 

While floating, it is easy to become aware of your breath and use it as a meditative or pain distracting focus.  You can easily transform short, shallow breaths to become deep and expansive. Your breath can help you to enter the dream-like state that many experience while floating. It is both common, easy and helpful to experiment and manipulate your breathing patterns.  Slow, relaxed inhales and exhales.  Floating is the perfect place to practice and learn how to harness your breath, then apply it to your day to day routine to manage stress, focus and pain.   After all, when you are effortlessly floating face up in an oversized fiberglass tub filled with 10” of skin temperature water and saturated with 1000 pounds of Epsom salts, you breathe distinctively different then when sitting, standing or lying down on a surface.  

Floating makes you a better breather. And this leads to a better float experience. A better float experience will enhance your life in many ways. Breathing is a good thing. 

For more on breathing and floating, contact the author, Dr. David Berv:  david@myfloatzone.com

If Winter Sports Cause Concussion, Floating May Help

Concussion in progress... Photo by shinichiro tanaka

Concussion in progress... Photo by shinichiro tanaka


If winter sports cause concussion, floating may help


Winter sports are fun and fast.  Skiing down fluffy mountain moguls, or skating on shiny and perfectly flat ice while making sharp turns and stopping on a dime is exciting. Sledding or tubing after a big snowfall is a great way to spend a cold winter day.  But all too often, a sudden slip, fall or collision can abruptly end the fun.

January is traumatic brain injury awareness month. And it is for real. Several years ago, before the “discovery” that professional football players were routinely being concussed and not properly evaluated and managed, nobody really gave it a second thought.  Strangely enough, as concussion and traumatic brain injury news has been more in the public eye, it seems more people are suffering them. Or maybe it has been there the whole time.  It’s amazing how awareness can shape perception. 

It happens in an instant. The jello-like brain slams against the skull with such incredible force. Sometimes the skull cracks as the head hits the ice, a tree or the pole sticking up at the bottom of the sledding hill.  Sometimes it doesn't fracture, it just internally bleeds or inflames without external signs and symptoms.  Often, the effects of a concussion are not apparent for weeks or months, after the broken arm, bruised ribs or headache goes away.  This is where winter fun is no laughing matter.

When you endure a head injury, it always affects the brain.  Period.  Seeking medical counsel immediately upon injury is crucial.  However, sometimes there is a delay in signs or symptoms.  Concussion and traumatic brain injury is often associated with headaches, vision and hearing changes or sensitivities, nausea, sleep disturbance, inability to focus on tasks or concentrate.  Concussion can also affect emotions and behavior and can lead to unexplained anxiety, fatigue, depression or memory issues.  

In the spring, long after your concussion and when the birds are chirping and the flowers are blooming, its easy to forget to tell your doctor you smacked your head 3 months ago, when you are in the office seeking treatment for what may appear like something totally irrelevant. 

Current literature indicates that there is an ill-defined consensus regarding treatment strategies related to concussion.  As time passes, traumatic brain injury can become disguised and creatively intermingled with other behavioral, neurological and musculoskeletal dysfunction.  This is why building a support team and an integrated medical approach to assist TBI recovery is crucial.  

In addition to your general practitioner or a neurologist, those with TBI may find help and relief with different forms of bodywork or energy work such as massage, chiropractic, acupuncture, craniosacral, myofascial release, or reiki.  Further, psychological counseling, dietary modification, yoga or various exercise training can help.  

Floating or floatation therapy is emerging to be a valuable adjunct to any therapy being considered for TBI.  Floatation therapy, otherwise known as R.E.S.T. or restricted environmental stimulus technique, involves a 5’ x 8’ fiberglass tank filled with 150-180 gallons of skin temperature water ( 93.5 degree) saturated with 1000 pounds of epsom salt, or magnesium sulfate salt. You effortlessly float face up, like a cork, for an hour in a private room.  You have a choice of darkness and silence, or lights on and ambient music.  Either way the effects of gravity are removed, which is a huge source of stimuli and mental distraction for the brain.  It has been scientifically demonstrated that floatation affects regions of the brain that respond similarly to deep meditation, restfulness and anti-anxiety.  There is further indication that the brain is very receptive to rest and repair during and after a float session.  Existing and current case studies at The Float Zone in Richmond, VA are shedding light on the positive possibilities of recovery from concussion and TBI both by itself and in synergy with other therapies and considerations.  

This January and throughout the year, if you or someone you know is suffering from the effects of concussion or TBI, please tell them to consider floatation therapy.  Because floating is good for the brain.

For more information on floating and concussion, contact The Float Zone at 804-551-1413 or www.myfloatzone.com.


Example of Pod used in concussion case studies AT the float zone

Example of Pod used in concussion case studies AT the float zone

Gastronomy and Floating




A symbiotic relationship has always existed between any culture and its food that makes culinary artists such an important subset of any community.   A local example of this is the varied and talented gastronomists of Richmond, Virginia that continually carve local culture.  Over the past several years, Richmond has transformed into a foodie culture. There are an impressive number of rising and talented local chefs whose creations are only limited by their own inspiration.  However, the work of a chef is much more than just the planning, purchase, prep, staff instruction and execution of the meal.  Administrative duties, equipment maintenance,  marketing and other intricacies of the kitchen often hinder proper sleep patterns, which affect the very inspiration needed to keep producing new and different gastronomical masterpieces. This is why chefs like to float - and many Richmond chefs have floated at The Float Zone.

Floating or floatation involves a sleek 8’ by 5’ fiberglass “pod”.  It is filled with 10” of skin temperature water and saturated with 1000 pounds of Epsom salt.  There are light and music controls within the pod for which you can float in the light or dark and listen to music or silence.  The pod can be left open or closed, while you float face up effortlessly like a cork, for an hour.  By removing gravity and other sensations such as light, sound or the sensation of water temperature, the brain enters a very restful, restorative and left/right brain synchronized state.  Further, the magnesium salts have a powerful muscle relaxing and pain relieving effect.  The result is that one feels both physically and mentally refreshed.  

A pleasant side effect of this sleep-promoting, stress-reducing therapy is that it seems to inspire creativity.  Sometimes that new idea comes in the middle of a float. Sometimes it happens on the ride home afterwards or through a float inspired dream that night. But when you feel calmer for the next few days, less reactive and brighter in mind and body, you’ll appreciate the benefit of the float experience. 

The month of July is culinary arts appreciation month. We appreciate great gastronomical efforts and thank all RVA chefs along with their support staff, for all the culinary inspiration that you bring to our city!


Water and Floating


    One of Four Float Rooms at the Float ZOne in Richmond, Virginia

    One of Four Float Rooms at the Float ZOne in Richmond, Virginia

It takes up most of the planet and makes up most of our body.  We feel good being in it, on it or around it.  We often don’t get enough of it.  When was your last glass of water.

A shortage of potable water has become a major issue in some parts of the country.   In many parts of the world, water supplies are contaminated. Sometimes, evening the pursuit of clean drinking water, our hopes are dashed with hidden contaminants or harmful plastics.

A glass of water first thing in the morning can go a long way towards a healthy body.  Drinking coffee, tea, juices, colas and energy drinks can be dehydrating.  And dehydration can lead to many other problems, such as headaches or the persistence of pain. Instead of popping that aspirin, consider a glass of good old H2O. How much water in ounces, does one need each day? Take your body weight, and divide it in half.

It may seem strange, but there are benefits to adding salt to your daily water consumption. Celtic or Himalayan sea salts, although located half a world apart, contain the most mineralized, beneficial salts on the planet.  Adding a pinch of either type of salt to your water is like drinking the healthiest Gatorade or electrolyte replacement drink. 

You can also benefit from water by floating in it. Float pods or floatation, is becoming a very popular recreational and personal wellness activity.  Floatation involves a fiberglass enclosed large tub filled with 10” of skin temperature water, which is saturated with 1000 pounds of Epsom salt. Epsom salt, or magnesium sulfate salt, has a ton of health benefits.  Also, when you proportionally add that much of it, you are able to float face up effortlessly.  It’s a strange, but relaxing and rejuvenating experience when you remove gravity from the equation. What a difference it can make in both mind and body.

There is nothing like a tall, cool, pure glass of water.  There is also nothing like floating.  Both are good for you, but not at the same time.  Make sure not to drink too much water before your float so you and your bladder can enjoy it.  Then drink plenty of water afterwards, to leave hydrated and happy.

Come float in the pristine crystal clear water in any of the four float rooms at The Float Zone!

Acupuncture and Floatation Therapy

Acupuncture has been around for centuries. Long before the advent of penicillin or aspirin, acupuncture was successful in addressing a wide range of ailments and disorders.  It takes years of study and practice to become a proficient practitioner in this healing art.

 While only a few points are typically chosen for your treatment, over 360 acupuncture points are available to restore balance to your body’s energy systems. Like the old school telephone switchboard operators that plug and connect phone lines, needles purposefully placed in points and patterns on the skin, communicate with your inner rivers of energy.

 Regardless of your reasons for receiving it, acupuncture is a surprisingly relaxing experience.  During an acupuncture session, many experience a sense of “drifting off” and lucid dreaming, similar to the experience of floatation therapy.

 Floatation therapy and acupuncture complement each other. Many partake in both, as part of a personal wellness strategy to combat the effects and pressures of modern day society.  For this reason, many acupuncturists recommend floatation therapy to their patients.

Floating is like an instant mind and muscle relaxer.  It is like meditating without having ever practiced meditation, like receiving the effects of a full body massage without being touched, like getting the most restful sleep without really sleeping, all in one hour.

Imagine a fiberglass molded “pod” which contains 10” of skin temperature water (93.5-94.5 degrees) and 1000 pounds of Epsom, or magnesium salts.  You are in a private room.  You shower, insert earplugs, climb into this pod, lie on your back, turn off the light (from inside the pod) and float effortlessly for an hour like a cork. Your brain gets a chance to rest, to recharge and to refresh being relieved of “normal” stimuli, like gravity. Your body soaks up the healthy magnesium salts.  You emerge feeling distinctively different. And it lasts for days. The more you float, the better you feel.

 Acupuncture and floating work well together.  Come float at “The Float Zone” in Richmond, Virginia. 

Chiropractic and Floatation Therapy

It is likely that you or someone you know has probably experienced back pain, neck pain or headaches and saw a Chiropractic Physician as part of the treatment plan.   Since the 19th century, Doctors of Chiropractic have been musculoskeletal specialists who use their hands rather than pills, to manually repair a wide range of injuries and disorders.

Schooled like a medical or osteopathic doctor, but with a heavier emphasis on radiology, anatomy, neurology, rehabilitative exercise, and nutrition, a chiropractor is a good choice for managing pain from head to toe.  Whether it is a bum knee causing back stress or a weak muscle group creating imbalance, a chiropractor can help identify and treat it, or refer you to the right specialist who can.

Most who seek chiropractic care for pain or injury realize that there are also preventative and wellness benefits to regular (spinal) check-ups, similar to that of a teeth cleaning at the dentist. And while the benefits are broad and valuable, there are also limitations of this healing art, especially as it relates to modern day pressures and lifestyles. 

Chiropractors and health care practitioners alike, easily recognize that stress, anxiety and depression that plagues our modern world, can sabotage treatment benefits and cause collateral health issues. Chiropractic care is well suited to work in conjunction with other therapies that address stress reduction and muscle relaxation. This is why chiropractors often recommend floatation therapy to their patients.

Floating, or floatation therapy is like an instant mind and muscle relaxer.  It is like meditating without having ever practiced meditation, like receiving the effects of a full body massage without being touched, like getting the most restful sleep without really sleeping, all in one hour.

Imagine a fiberglass molded “pod” which contains 10” of skin temperature water (93.5-94.5 degrees) and 1000 pounds of Epsom, or magnesium salts.  You are in a private room.  You shower, insert earplugs, climb into this pod, lie on your back, turn off the light (from inside the pod) and float effortlessly for an hour like a cork. Your brain gets a chance to rest, to recharge and to refresh being relieved of “normal” stimuli, like gravity. Your body soaks up the healthy magnesium salts.  You emerge feeling distinctively different. And it lasts for days. The more you float, the better you feel.

 Floatation therapy in combination with chiropractic therapy can have profound benefit.  Come float at “The Float Zone” in Richmond, Virginia.