Brain improvement is
achievable by anyone.

APEX Brain Centers Can Help!

Contact Form

Fields marked with a * are required.

Schedule a Free Consultation

Case Study: Post-Concussion Syndrome – Jackie

concussion ep 43Jackie’s Story

At the time of presentation to APEX Brain centers in Asheville, NC in late 2015, Jackie was a 55-year-old, soon to be retired professional female. Post-concussive symptoms of debilitating headaches, memory loss, learning and behavioral issues, fluctuations in heart rate, and difficulty handling visual stimulation such as driving, busy public places and computer screens were preventing her from leading a normal life. Prior to traveling to APEX from Charlotte, NC, Jackie had sought care from several different doctors in her area. Vestibular therapy and chiropractic care had given her some relief of symptoms, although her other experiences were not so positive. At one point a provider told her that she was mentally ill. Jackie was outraged and, as many with post-concussion syndrome report similarly, she offered this statement: “I’m not crazy. I didn’t have any of these symptoms before I had the injury and I am definitely not making them up”. This is the unfortunate reality of many who suffer with brain injury.   

Intervention for balance and cognitive decline

Jackie underwent comprehensive Brain Training at a frequency of 3 times per day over the course of 15 days (with 2 days off between each week for much needed rest and recovery). Her brain function was carefully monitored throughout the training process with measurement of EEG brainwaves, vital signs, eye movements, balance, mental and physical timing, and more to ensure she was receiving the proper amount of therapy to be effective without exceeding fatigue limits that could potentially promote worsening of her symptoms. Modalities implemented included, but were not limited to: neurofeedback, Interactive Metronome, vestibular rehabilitation, metabolic/nutritional therapies, eye movement and neurological rehabilitation, electrical stimulation, breathing exercises and home care therapies.

Outcomes after Brain Training

Jackie reported prior to brain training that she would have a constant headache of 6 on a 0-10 scale (0 being no pain and 10 being the worst possible pain) that would escalate into an 8-9 of 10 by the end of the day. The week after her program she reported the headaches were finally manageable at a level of 3-4 of 10 and would not escalate. Jackie has had continued success and reported at 3 weeks after her program that she is headache free, unless she spends too much time in front of a screen or in a busy public place. She also reports that when this occurs, her ‘at home’ brain exercises will relieve them. Aside from headaches, Jackie has reported that she no longer feels like she is in a constant brain fog. Her heart rate has also normalized and no longer fluctuates or spikes. 

Actual, measurable objective improvements recorded with post-intensive diagnostic testing include, but are not limited to:

  • Cognitive Testing: Jackie showed an increase in her Neurocognition Index of 11%. This is a standardized overall score of cognitive performance. Significant improvements in specific areas of memory (one of her biggest concerns) are as follows: 65% in composite memory, 33% in verbal memory, and 67% in visual memory.
  • Interactive Metronome: 56% improvement in motor timing accuracy and normalization of hyper-anticipatory timing tendency with motor tasks (i.e. premature response to a specified reference tone).
  • Videonystagmography (VNG): Significant improvements in numerous aspects of oculomotor (eye movement) functionality including: gaze holding, slow and fast eye movements, optokinetic responses, and spontaneous/involuntary eye movements.

Implications for others:

Diagnostic and functional tests can be used to direct an effective Brain Training program and improve post-concussion symptoms. Increased sensory and environmental sensitivities are common symptoms of post-concussion syndrome. There are several areas of your brain that process information from your environment and from your body. If these areas are damaged then it becomes difficult for the brain to process sensory input, resulting in fogginess, memory and cognitive issues, impaired processing of pain, and the many other symptoms seen after concussions. The frustration felt by individuals being made to feel they are “crazy”, as Jackie noted, is entirely unnecessary and driven by a health care system that is largely focused on diagnostic testing and lacking significantly in functional treatment options. There is great hope for partial and full recovery in most cases of concussion given a thorough investigation and functional interventions addressing the physical, cognitive, metabolic and lifestyle factors that influence brain health.

If you or someone you care about is experiencing ANY of these symptoms, or anything out of the ordinary related to a head or brain injury, call APEX Brain Centers now at 828.708.5274. You may also email us at [email protected] for more information and to set up a free consultation. 

Case Study: Balance and Memory Problems – Roger

Son & Elderly FatherRoger’s story

At the time of presentation to APEX Brain Centers, Roger was a 70-year-old male struggling with severe balance problems, clumsiness, fatigue, and a general disinterest in life. He used to enjoy life as a family man, successful entrepreneur and golfer. Just over 10 years prior he had undergone radiation therapy for cancer that damaged his 8th cranial nerve (the balance and hearing nerve). He had also undergone prism therapies and surgery for eye position abnormalities, which have caused further insult to his ability to maintain good balance and to learn effectively. Although not listed as a primary complaint, he also suffered from significant cognitive decline in several areas as evidenced by very low to low average scores on standardized cognitive testing.

Roger sought care at APEX Brain Centers in Asheville, NC in May of 2015 and underwent an intensive course of Brain Training. He was admitted into in an individualized program directed by extensive diagnostic testing, and led by clinicians highly experienced in functional neurology. What follows is a sampling of some of the cutting-edge clinical interventions and amazing functional gains Roger experienced during his time at APEX.

Intervention for balance and cognitive decline

Roger underwent comprehensive Brain Training at a frequency of 3 times per day over the course of 15 days (with 2 days off between each for much needed rest and recovery). His brain function was carefully monitored throughout the training process with measurement of EEG brainwaves, vital signs, eye movements, balance, mental and physical timing, and more to ensure he was receiving the proper amount therapy to be effective, but not too much so as to be counter-productive. Modalities implemented included, but were not limited to: neurofeedback (NFB), Interactive Metronome, vestibular rehabilitation, metabolic/nutritional therapies, eye movement and neurological rehabilitation, whole body vibration, electrical stimulation, breathing exercises and home care recommendations.

Outcomes after Brain Training

Subsequent to his Brain Training program, Roger reported subjective improvements in the vast majority of his pre-intensive complaints. More profound than that; his wife was quoted as saying, “it’s like I have my old husband back”. She noted that he used to be the life of the party and had been slowly deteriorating over time to the point of sitting in his chair all day and sleeping more and more often. He was finally plugging back into life, putting an end to his isolation and apathy. As is demonstrated by his balance testing, he is also experiencing a renewed ability to maintain balance, allowing him to be safer and more efficient in navigating his physical environment.

Actual, measurable objective improvements recorded with post-intensive diagnostic testing include:

  • Cognitive Testing: Increase in his Neurocognition Index of 48%. This is a standardized overall score of cognitive performance. Increases in various aspects of memory, attention, processing speed and more as great as 21%.
  • Interactive Metronome: 56% improvement in task average with motor timing, and normalization of hyper-anticipatory timing tendency with motor tasks (i.e. responding prematurely to a pre-set reference tone).
  • Computerized Assessment of Postural Stability (CAPS): 20.5% improvement in balance on an unstable surface with eyes closed – bringing him from severe to mild reduction in balance compared to his peers. Elimination of a posterior center of pressure (CoP); significantly reducing his risk of falling backwards.
  • Videonystagmography (VNG): Significant improvements in numerous aspects of oculomotor (eye movement) functionality including: gaze holding, slow and fast eye movements, optokinetic responses, and spontaneous/involuntary eye movements.

Takeaway

With an alarming increase in the number of baby boomers and seniors experiencing balance issues and cognitive decline (that are in fact related), it is important to recognize the symptoms of these potentially debilitating disorders and, more importantly, that something can be done about them. Early intervention is key, as the longer one waits and the more function is lost, the more difficult it is to recover and have full engagement with life!

Your Brain’s Clock – Timing is Everything

Every breath you take, every move you make (enter the distinct guitar sounds of The Police’s wildly popular 1983 hit) is controlled by your brain’s innate timing system. Whether physical movements or production of thoughts, your brain’s ability to time these magical feats appropriately is the difference between unnoticed normal everyday functioning and disastrous consequences.

Most can relate to the impact timing has on the way we move. We’ve all seen someone with Parkinson’s disease or brain injury, or simply decline in function with aging, struggle with what most of us take for granted (i.e. walking, tying shoes, speaking, etc.). Our ability to effortlessly time movement is taken for granted… Until that ability is lost.

On the other hand, it might be a bit more difficult for one to consider that the disorganized thoughts of those with schizophrenia or similar conditions has anything to do with timing. This is in fact a growing area of research where disorganized or uncoordinated thoughts are being related to uncoordinated motor activity such as walking and speech. When movements are improved through various types of physical training, individuals experience more efficient thought processing and communication of these thoughts. Through this lens it is quite easy to see how our thoughts, and even emotions, can be impaired by improper mental timing.

Can I improve my brain’s timing???

Musicians, dancers and other athletes would tell you… Absolutely! Simply involving yourself in activities that revolve around a regular beat or rhythm (cadence) will help to strengthen your mental timing ability. The obvious here would include activities such as music and dance.

But what if there are problems with my brain???

Previously mentioned brain injury and Parkinson’s disease would be natural barriers to improving timing in the brain. Studies also show that key physical abilities (bio-markers) such as balance and eye movements are impaired in those experiencing cognitive decline with aging. Challenges in these and other abilities will undoubtedly have an impact on our ability to improve timing. Addressing the physical and metabolic aspects of these conditions would be the logical first step in improving mental timing in any situation. For those with severe impairment, and for those looking to be the best they can be, there are other options.

Can my mental timing be measured and improved???

Fortunately, yes! With sophisticated measurement and training tools such as the Interactive Metronome, those with neurological conditions and peak performers alike can have their brain’s timing measured quite accurately. This particular program utilizes auditory (sound) cues to first measure and then train one’s mental timing capacities. Through matching body movements to a standardized metronome beat, the computer software can determine (down to the millisecond) how accurately one is timing. Numerous aspects of timing can be measured including early and late timing tendencies, left vs. right side of body differences, upper vs. lower body timing differences, consistency in timing from one beat to the next, and much more. Armed with this information, experienced clinicians such as those at APEX Brain Centers in Asheville, NC can design and deliver specific Brain Training programs to repair the deficient timing issues to the highest degree possible.

What does this all mean for me???

With intact and efficient mental timing our risk of injury due to falling decreases… Thought processing and problem solving become more efficient… Attention and focus get sharper… Memory formation and retrieval becomes much easier… Certain unwanted behavioral traits improve… Academics and test taking require less effort and produce less anxiety… Our limits of physical performance can skyrocket…

I believe you get the point. There are few aspects of humanism that are not positively impacted by an improvement in our brain’s innate timing abilities. Go exercise that rhythm – your brain will thank you!

Case Study: Mild Traumatic Brain Injury – Liz

Liz’s Story

Liz is a 29-year-old female entrepreneur, designer, and athlete who came to APEX Brain Centers with a history of post-concussion syndrome from previous car accidents and sport related head injuries. She reported symptoms that are often seen in cases of mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI) including brain fog, fluctuating and elevated heart rate, fatigue, incoordination, excessive emotionality, sharp head pains, and decreasing ability to think critically and effectively. Liz’s symptoms have been nothing short of debilitating and have taken away her ability to work full time at the career she loves. She was also very concerned that her future plans of having a baby and starting a family would be compromised due to the health risk to both her and a developing fetus.

Liz traveled from Virginia to the APEX Brain Centers office in Asheville, NC to participate in our targeted, high frequency, high intensity Brain Training program. She began a 10-day course of Brain Training in November of 2014 with a goal of alleviating her concussion related symptoms. With her sincere efforts and dedication to recovery, we were able to record significant measurable changes related to her symptomatology.

Intervention for mTBI

Liz underwent Brain Training 3 times per day over the course of the 10-day period. Her brain function was carefully monitored throughout the training process to ensure she was receiving enough treatment to be effective, but not too much so as to be counter-productive. Modalities delivered included, but were not limited to: neurofeedback (NFB) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), Interactive Metronome, vestibular rehabilitation, metabolic/nutritional therapies, eye movement and other aspects of neurological rehabilitation, electrical stimulation, breathing exercises and home care recommendations.

Outcomes after Brain Training

Subsequent to her Brain Training program, Liz reported significant subjective improvements in the vast majority of her post-concussion syndrome symptoms including: fogginess and “wandering” of thought, fluctuating heat rate, ability to control emotions, head pain, sleep, intensity at which she was able to exercise, balance, and levels of energy.

Actual, measurable objective improvements recorded with post-intensive diagnostic testing include:

  • Cognitive Testing: Improvements in 4 aspects of memory, attention, executive and other cognitive functions ranging from 14% – 800%.
  • Interactive Metronome: 42% improvement and normalization of hyper-anticipatory timing tendency with motor tasks. 68% improvement in task average with motor skills. 30% improvement in overall response accuracy with motor skills.
  • Computerized Assessment of Postural Stability (CAPS): Elimination of mild reductions in stability with balance and complete normalization of balance abilities in eyes closed scenarios.
  • Videonystagmography (VNG): Significant improvements in numerous aspects of oculomotor (eye movement) functionality including: gaze holding, slow and fast eye movements, optokinetic responses, and spontaneous/involuntary eye movements.
  • Quantitative EEG (qEEG): Normalization of depressed 0-10Hz bandwidth activity.
  • Autonomic Testing: Stabilization of heart rate from an erratic range of 90-150 bpm, to 60-90 bpm; saving her over 30 million heartbeats per year!

With an ever-increasing number of individuals experiencing mTBI, it is important to recognize the symptoms of these oftentimes debilitating disorders and, more importantly, that something can be done about them. Borrowing a phrase from the Brain Injury Association of America, “Brain injury is the last thing on your mind, until it is the only thing on your mind”!

Are You an Athlete Who Could Benefit from Brain Training? 5 Questions to Ask Yourself

apex-header-4Whether they are running, cycling, swimming, auto racing, playing ball sports, or participating in weekend warrior contests; athletes of all shapes, sizes, and abilities have one thing in common. They all want to WIN!

The road to excellence in sports has changed quite a bit over the past several decades. The vehicles that bring athletes to their peak today look nothing like the horse and buggies that used to get them there. Sports performance is a high-tech, fast-paced, ultra-competitive industry where new advances in training the human body are popping up around every corner, in every discipline.

Today you may commonly choose to enhance your athletic performance through strength, agility, and endurance training specific to your sport, metabolic therapies, and possibly indulge in cross training and sports psychology therapy. But something is missing from this list. Something BIG. Something that could make all the difference in the world. Brain Training can help you achieve peak athletic performance. Training your brain to perform at a peak level is shaping up to be the biggest, and likely most important, aspect of training for ANY athlete. Brain Training can also amplify the effects of other training methods.

If you answer yes to any of the following questions, then you are ready to take the next step in your athletic training program:

1)     Do I want to be faster?

Most sports require speed and endurance, and training your brain to be faster can be a game changer. Balance, coordination of movement, core stabilization (shunt muscles) and voluntary movement (spurt muscles), all controlled by your brain, are key factors in determining how fast your muscles will move your body. The more “tuned-up” these systems are, the faster you will be.

2)     Do I want to increase my reaction time?

Advanced applications like the Interactive Metronome were designed to improve timing abilities in key areas of the frontal lobes of your brain that govern your ability to react appropriately to stimulation coming from your environment (i.e. sight, sound, etc.). Training your brain’s ability to react to various types of stimulation, and to block other types out, can significantly speed up your reaction time and overall accuracy of thought and movement.

3)     Do I want to improve my focus?

Focus, Flow, Concentration, The Zone… whatever you prefer to call it… is one of the most complicated of all brain abilities, and very likely the most crucial brain function when it comes to success at sports. Many abilities come together to create focus, most notably vision combined with your brain’s attention network. These abilities CAN be trained to achieve higher levels of concentration and attention. This is what creates the effortless focus on the task at hand – The Zone – that most athletes crave.

4)     Do I want to outsmart my competition?

Training various aspects of memory, essentially increasing your intelligence, will provide invaluable assistance when stacking up against your competition. Working and procedural memory can be improved through intensive Brain Training programs that combine “brain games” and metal tasks with physical exercises and various types of sensory input shown to improve cognitive abilities.

5)     Do I want to decrease my risk of injury?

The brain controls your muscles as well as the tone of your tendons and ligaments. Muscles, tendons and ligaments that are controlled by a well-functioning brain are more resilient, faster to respond, and less likely to be injured. In turn, if something has been injured it tends to send “faulty” feedback to the brain, further increasing risk of injury. Training brain-body connections is critical for any high performance athlete that wants to stay off the sidelines.

How to Improve Your Test Scores

Eat a good breakfast the morning of a test. Get a full night’s sleep. Study. Don’t cram. Make flash cards. Take practice exams. Write practice essays. Do these test preparation tips and strategies sound familiar? Practically any study guide will repeat these same suggestions. It’s good advice, but there are additional ways to achieve higher test scores or better academic performance, and there are likely neurological underpinnings that are preventing you from effectively following this simple advice.

Brain Training for test preparation can help a student prepare for exams by improving mental skills:

  • Boost memory
  • Enhance focus and lengthen attention span
  • Increase mental processing speed (the rate at which you think and make decisions)

No matter what type of exam you are preparing for: GMAT, LSAT, MCAT, SAT, ACT, GRE, GED or state bar, you can give yourself the highest chance of success by training your brain for peak performance.

The Relationship Between Timing in the Brain and Academic Performance

Your test performance abilities are determined in part by the timing of all the processes that go on in your brain. The faster your brain can absorb and process information the better you’ll perform mentally and physically.

Interactive Metronome is a brain training tool we use to help clients improve test scores. IM training feels like playing a game. You hear a rhythmic tone, and see real-time feedback on a computer screen that directs you in how to perform a physical action in time with the beat, such as clapping your hands. You get immediate feedback on your performance down to the millisecond so you can continually improve as you proceed through the training.

How IM Training Helps Improve Test Scores

IM challenges your brain to quickly process and respond to auditory and visual cues. As you practice and improve your timing, your brain grows new connections and improves the efficiency of existing ones. That new brain growth and development will help you get faster and better at processing information, so you can see improvements in your ability to pay attention, learn, and communicate. Higher test scores are only one of the positive changes you can see after completing IM training.

Research into Interactive Metronome and Academic Performance

Scientific studies into the timing of the brain and IM training support the connection between IM and improved academic performance. A 2011 study published by Jamshid Damooei, Ph.D. measured changes in academic performance of California elementary and middle school students who underwent Interactive Metronome training. All of the test subjects were chosen to participate because they were struggling in school. The reasons for their academic problems ranged from learning and attention disorders to autism. The students who completed the program overwhelmingly showed improvements in key areas: ability to focus, reading and math comprehension, and a remarkable increase in processing speed.

If you are interested in learning more about Interactive Metronome and other brain training tools and strategies that can help you improve your test scores contact the APEX admissions department.

5 Tips to Level Up Your Business Brain

What does it take to get to the top? Persistence, passion, education, goal setting, accountability, flexibility, intuition, creativity, learning from failure, family influence, even what time of the year you are born (according to author Malcolm Gladwell), have all been cited as reasons as to why some are able to achieve the unlimited level of success they desire in business and beyond.

Training your brain??? While this is often omitted on the countless ‘Top 10’ lists for success that can be uncovered by a quick Google search, it is likely the single most important thing you can do to ensure your brain is functioning at an optimal level and able to generate the much needed motivation, attention, focus, planning, and other cognitive abilities that will allow you to successfully implement these other critical ‘CEO traits’ and propel you to the top!

5 Methods of Training and Supporting your Brain for Peak Performance in the Business World:

1. The eyes have it…

We’ve always been told that ‘the eyes are the window to the soul’. I’d like to refine, or re-define, this old adage for our purposes and tell you that ‘the eyes are the window to the brain’! Fast and slow eye movements, separation of head and eye movements, and starting and stopping of eye movements are directly related to your higher cognitive functions. These abilities can be measured via VNG testing and trained through a host of eye movement exercises specifically tailored to your specific deficits, allowing for a higher level of brain function.

2. Ride the wave…

Training brainwaves for peak performance and business success? Absolutely! The applications of neurofeedback are far-reaching and not just for brain illness anymore. The ability to accurately record and analyze brainwaves through sophisticated qEEG brain mapping will help direct you through a course of brain training that will ensure your brain is more capable of achieving the success it craves.

3. Drop the beat…

I have to have rhythm to achieve success? Not entirely, although training your brain’s timing (temporal processing) through matching body movements to precise sound cues will undoubtedly make your brain function a whole lot better on so many levels. The Interactive Metronome is a brilliant brain training tool that will help you do just that.

4. I think, therefore I am…

Thinking, reasoning, contemplating, and strategizing are a few of your higher executive functions that, if exercised appropriately, will maximize your brain performance and thrust you to new heights. Brain games, meditation, and specific neurological training exercises based on your needs and diagnostic testing will help sharpen your cognitive machine.

5. You are what you eat…

The most obvious, yet the most often overlooked! Our brain requires a steady source of high quality fuel to support the never-ending mental and physical processes it engages in. When eating a diet high in processed and refined foods, your brain, simply put, wastes resources in breaking down these foods to ultimately obtain little benefit as they are stripped of the vast majority of nutrients present in whole foods. Learn more on metabolic and nutritional therapy.

Training the ADD and ADHD Brain: Top 3 Exercises

I am excited to announce that I am now a contributing writer to the NaturalNews Network. The NaturalNews Network is a non-profit collection of public education websites covering topics that empower individuals to make positive changes in their health.

My first article focuses on a mental health issue that APEX commonly treats in Asheville: Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). In this blog post I discuss three evidence based brain exercises we have found to be effective interventions for symptoms such as inattention, hyperactivity, restlessness, and impulsivity.

Adults and children who have Attention Deficit Disorder or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder often struggle with an inability to organize thoughts, break the chains of procrastination, or even follow simple conversations. If this sounds familiar, take heart. Brain Training exercises offer hope for anyone suffering from disorders of attention and focus.

Read the full article HERE.

You can stay updated on my most recent articles by visiting my profile on NaturalNews.

APEX Brain Centers is leading the way in neuroplasticity-based brain enhancement programs that are opening new doors for those struggling with addictions, learning and behavioral disabilities, test performance, athletic performance and more.

2 Walden Ridge Drive (STE 80) ~ Asheville, NC 28803 ~ 828.708.5274
© 2015 APEX Brain Centers