Healing Head Injury - part 2
By Gail Sanders Durgin, Ph.D. and Debbie Hampton, B.A.
In August of 2008, Debbie made an appointment for an evaluation with Neurofeedback Associates. She had experienced a head injury due to an overdose of prescription drugs. Debbie was concerned about her speech and her ability to express her thoughts as well as her manual dexterity. She was participating in yoga, acupuncture, a nutritional program, daily cardio workouts, spiritual counseling and mediation to assist in healing her injury. Although, she was living independently, Debbie found she had difficulty performing some activities in public and preferred to do those activities accompanied by a family member.
After her initial evaluation, Debbie had a qEEG or brain map to determine how neurofeedback training could best be used to improve her functioning. In an effort to progress as quickly as possible, Debbie decided to initially come for training several times per week. In her initial sessions, she trained with traditional neurofeedback and later added more specialized forms of neurofeedback that assisted her brain in restoring and improving additional areas of function. Debbie learned to use other forms of biofeedback such as heat rate variability training and capnometry (breathing training).
As the training progressed, Debbie found her speech improving and she began to accomplish her daily tasks with greater independence, confidence and efficiency.
The following is Debbie's experience in her own words:
In June of 2007, I swallowed a colorful assortment of over 90 pills and tried to kill myself. Needless to say, it wasn't a successful attempt, but it did put me in the hospital for two weeks and leave me with a serious brain injury changing my entire life. It is not clear whether the cause of my global brain injury, technically termed encephalopathy, was the result of all the drugs going completely through my body or my heart stopping multiple times or the 107 degree fever or the hours of seizures. Right afterwards, I would say that by my own honest definition I was mentally handicapped.
I had tremendous trouble remembering anything short term or long term. My speech was very slurred and hard to understand. My thinking processes were impaired and very slow. I couldn't sleep for any length of time at all. I even had trouble controlling my bladder and eating without biting my cheek or tongue. My hands had a constant tremor, and I did not know what to do with them when I walked. The best I can liken it to is being drunk. I literally had to struggle to maintain some level of coherent consciousness for any period.
Over the next year, I was driving and living on my own, but had lost custody of my kids and they rightfully went to live out of state with their Dad. I slept fitfully for as much as 16 hours a day, but never felt rested. I would go to put up laundry and get lost in my drawers or closet for hours. I would get painfully disoriented and panicky trying to get home from familiar places. A good day for me was one in which I had emptied the dishwasher and that took a ridiculously long time. The world terrified me. Going to the grocery store was a scary experience. Every interaction with people would send my heart racing and leave me mentally exhausted. My speech had improved somewhat, but I still got the sideways glances and people whispering "How much has she had to drink today?"
Western medicine had nothing to offer me, and after three months of occupational and speech therapy, they basically told me to go home and cross my fingers. As I became more aware, I did my own research and assembled my own therapy regime. I have incorporated acupuncture, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, cranio sacral massage, hyercapnia or "bag breathing," my own respiratory therapy with a device called a power lung, energetic healing, meditation, visualization, cardiovascular exercise, yoga, supplements and more, but, by far the one thing that has made the most dramatic difference in my recovery is neurofeedback and Dr. Durgin.
By the time I got to Dr. Gail Durgin of Neurofeedback Associates in August of 2008, I had improved a great deal, but life was still a frustrating challenge. When Dr. Durgin went over the results of my QEEG, I cried at the disappointing findings and when she said she was surprised I was functioning as well as I was and that was due only to my sheer determination. It has been an amazing and painstakingly slow recovery process and journey. After 10 visits, my speech and my thoughts began to become simultaneous. They had been completely separate, and there was a time delay between them. They have continued to become more joined and faster. My speech is still affected, but greatly improved. I like to assume that most people now just think I have an exotic foreign accent.
My sleep became deep, restful and healing. My emotions became more stable and manageable. I used to cry like a faucet and feel completely overwhelmed and like life was unusually cruel and hard. I did not participate in any traditional therapy other than the obligatory, minimal sessions right after the attempt. I also weaned myself off of antidepressants and all medication within 6 months of the attempt and before starting neurofeedback. I had been on an antidepressant for years and had done therapy for years with little success obviously. I had just started taking a new antidepressant right before the attempt. I actually have become consistently joyful and calm with a more positive, stronger disposition naturally. To feel like a pond with a few ripples occasionally is actually the norm these days instead of feeling like a hurricane.
My mental processing speed increased drastically. It has more than doubled. As it did, time seemed to expand. I could accomplish much more with a faster brain. Soon a good day was emptying the dishwasher and doing a few other things. I am in awe of my capacity currently.
In addition to the neurofeedback, Dr. Durgin has been an incredible resource for information and support in my recovery process. She suggested supplements for me to take specifically for my healing brain. She suggested activities for me to pursue socially which challenged me and facilitated my emotional, social, and mental healing. She suggested computer programs and online websites with exercises I could do at home to increase my processing speed, brain function, and memory.
I also had an "acute lung injury" according to my medical records. All I know is for a long while; I couldn't talk and breathe at the same time. Dr. Durgin used a capnometer to teach me how to breathe more effectively and suggested that I use a therapeutic device to do respiratory therapy on my own. We also did heart rate variability training in which I learned how to relax and control my heart rate and respiration intentionally.
We also did Neurofield training which I believe greatly balanced my hormones and thyroid function as well as aiding the healing of my lungs and brain. Neurofield training is based on the premise that every organ and system in your body vibrates at an optimal level. To heal means to get these systems back in vibrational balance.
Dr. Durgin and the services she provides have literally given me myself back and made my life manageable, promising and joyful even. I am better than I ever was before already. We are presently still doing treatments, and I fully anticipate getting totally back to "normal." I am having my son complete a series of neurofeedback treatments this summer while he is here just to get his brain functioning optimally. I see it as an investment in his future and a gift to him.
Debbie continues to make progress in regaining her full potential for an active, productive life. She would like to communicate with other people who have experienced similar problems or issues in their lives. She believes helping other people find their life's potential is part of her life's mission. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Neurofeedback Associates, Inc. is located at 2309 West Cone Blvd, Suite 210 in Northwestern Plaza Office Park. Please call 336-540-1972 for additional information.
Published in Natural Triad, September 2009