Unfortunately no. But you or your health care practitioner can contact the clinicians and scientists that Dr. Doidge describes in his book for this (many are listed below). The neuroplasticians that Dr. Doidge has studied the most, and knows best, are described in detail in his book. Some contact information is below, some you can get on the Internet with a little research. They include many of the most important pioneers in the field. They know who, if anyone, they have trained, and may know who is in your area. It is also important to understand that the neuroplasticity revolution is very cutting edge, and like all scientific revolutions, it can take 10 to 20 years before these techniques are widely available. You may have to be prepared to travel to get a cutting-edge treatment, so investigate it carefully. You may be lucky and have someone in your area who treats your problem using these principles. In some cases, the treatments are available either online, or by ordering a program for your computer (see below). As Dr. Doidge tests and gets to know more about programs, he will share that information on his website and in his lectures, or in coming publications.
Chronic pain can occur because there is an ongoing disease or injury in the body that needs attention, such as a hurt limb. The best solution is finding that disease and treating it, if possible. But pain can be chronic for another reason. Sometimes it is because when a disease or injury occurs, the nerves in the pain system are also injured. In these cases, the pain can persist long after the rest of the body has healed. It is in this situation where the neuroplasticity of pain is most relevant. Work with your physician to find out which of the two kinds of chronic pain you or your loved one has. Some pain physicians are just now getting interested in understanding pain and plasticity, and expect some more attention to be paid to it in the next few years. Google “pain” and “neuroplasticity” periodically, to check for new developments. If you’ve read chapter one, in The Brain’s Way of Healing, and are interested in contacting Dr. Moskowitz and his colleague Dr. Marla Golden, their website is at www.neuroplastix.com
. They have a self-help book for chronic pain that can be ordered from the site; they also train professionals in the techniques, and see patients.
Until recently, the main approach to a concussion has been “rest and restore.” Clients are told to rest, and the hope that they get will better. Unfortunately, a proportion of people do not get better, and develop post concussion syndromes, which are ongoing traumatic brain injuries. In The Brain’s Way of Healing
US, Canadian and UK paperback editions (and eventually, all other editions of the book in other languages) Norman Doidge has described approaches that have been helpful for a number of people who did not get better with rest. These approaches have in some cases led to a complete loss of symptoms, and in others a significant diminishment of their symptoms. In some, they have not helped. Still going from a situation where there is no help available to a large number of people, to a range of options, is a significant improvement. The interventions he described in the books should be studied there, in detail, in the chapters, in the appendices, and in the new afterword to the paperback edition. Often, a combination of interventions is involved, including proper exercises. DO NOT UNDERTAKE THESE WITHOUT THE GUIDANCE OF AN EXPERT. The interventions described in The Brain’s Way of Healing
- Low intensity lasers and LEDs (Chapter 4)
- The PoNS (Chapter 7)
- Neurofeedback (including standard neurofeedback and LENS neurofeedback) (Appendix 3)
- Matrix Repatterning (Appendix 2)
- Modified sound (chapter 8)
- Cognitive Fx (Afterword; it is a clinic in UTAH, which uses a combination of a special brain scan and brain exercises targeted specifically for areas that are not functioning well)
- Neuroscience informed optometry (Afterword)
- French based osteopathy and forms of cranial osteopathy (Afterword)
- Functional neurology (This family of techniques is not described in Norman Doidge’s books, but has had some successes in traumatic brain injuries as well.)
Sometimes a number of these must be tried, before finding one that might help. Some of these are discussed in other questions below. Often, combinations of these interventions will be helpful. In attempting to determine which approach might be helpful there is NO SUBSTITUTE for carefully reading about these approaches, in the chapters as well as on the practitioners’ websites, and, with the help of your health care professional, determining which might be worth contacting for an assessment. If you have a brain injury and reading is difficult, get a trusted friend or family member to help explain it, and then be sure to see your own health care provider. Be aware that practitioners of these techniques are often partial to their own techniques, which they have studied the most, and they may not know about the other techniques at all, or in any depth. Be aware, too, that because many of these techniques are new, it may be necessary to travel to see the practitioners. Travel for people with brain injuries is often difficult.
PoNS UPDATE, January, 2018. Information on availability of the PoNS will now be through the manufacturer of the device, Helius Medical Technologies
. In brief, some good news is that the final patients in the studies required for FDA approval finished their treatment in May and July 2017. The two studies which are the necessary prerequisites for FDA approval have now been completed, and a final package with the results, is currently being prepared by Helius for FDA submission. But the PoNS can not be made available to the public until FDA approval comes through. The latest guestitimate we have heard is that it could take until the end of 2018 for the FDA to release its decision. This may seem confusing, because the PoNS was available to patients who were in the well-known studies (for instance, the U.S. Military study of its use for treating traumatic brain injury and the Montreal Neurological Institute study for use for Multiple Sclerosis patients). But now that the studies are complete, the PoNS cannot be available to anyone until approved by the FDA. We know this is frustrating for those hoping to get access to a PoNS, and who had hoped it would be available by now, but this pace is not unusual in approval of new cutting-edge devices. Other news is that there is a migration of PoNS development activity to Helius. Because the PoNS studies have been completed, the Tactile Communication and Neurorehabilitation Lab that opened in 1992 and developed the PoNS and many other inventions, has been closed and the three scientists who invented the PoNS, Yuri Danilov, PhD, Kurt Kaczmarek, PhD and Mitch Tyler PhD, are now consulting for Helius on how to refine it. The TCNL lab website still has 50 research papers related to the PoNS posted on it, here.
Chapter 4 describes the work of two Toronto-based clinicians who use light for concussion, traumatic brain injury, and other brain problems. Light therapy is generally extremely safe, but a small number of patients with TBI can be overstimulated by too high an amount of light therapy, exacerbating their sensitivities for a while, and the amount of light administered needs to be significantly lowered, or another approach tried. If you are interested in Fred Kahn’s clinical work contact Meditech International at http://bioflexlaser.com/tpr/
. This Toronto clinic works with light for a wide variety of body-based problems as well. They also have train practitioners, and if you are not in Toronto, may be able to recommend someone near you. Anita Saltmarche was one of the first clinicians to publish on the successful use of light for treating brain injury. One of her interest areas is patients who are hypersensitive to light, sound, or other sensations post injury, and in using very very low levels of light, so that symptoms are not exacerbated. Her contact information is email@example.com
as a new website is under construction.
In 1977 Feldenkrais set up an organization, now called the Feldenkrais Guild of North America
, which today acrredits trainings programs and certifies practitioners in Canada and the United States in the Feldenkrais Method. It is affiliated with the International Feldenkrais Federation
, which represents certified practitioners throughout the world who have completed the training.
That chapter profiled the work of Paul Madaule, and Ron Minson. Paul Madaule and his team, can be reached at The Listening Centre
. On that site you can also see the tape of the autistic child they treated, before, and after the therapy. Madaule’s model is to do the initial work at The Listening Centre. Sometimes, in the more advanced stages, they work with portable equipment, that can be taken home. He also has colleagues he works with in other parts of the world, that use similar highly nuanced equipment.
In Australia, Listen and Learn, a centre in Melbourne, works with the same techniques that Paul Madaule does, and also provides quantitative EEG assessments, and in-depth psychological assessments to determine what approach is best to take for a child with a learning disorder, special needs, ADD, developmental delays, autistic spectrum disorders, or a speech, language and sound processing problem, among others. They also offer a number of different neuroplastic interventions including listening therapies, neurofeedback, Fast ForWord and Cellfield (a program for reading problems of a strongly visual origin) among others. The advantage of such a centre is that they have a range of neuroplastic options to offer, but still do first rate sound and listening therapy and assessments. Their website is http://www.listenandlearn.com.au
Integrated Listening Systems. Dr. Ron Minson, described in Chapter 4 of The Brain’s Way of Healing is medical director of Integrated Listening Systems (iLS) a company developed with colleagues Kate O’Brien and Randall Redfield. iLS developed portable systems, that use sound and movement. These devices are distributed to professional practitioners, of various backgrounds, including clinicians and educators, who complete an iLS course, on top of their other credentials. The iLS website is HERE: and lists providers, and several of their products, including one called “The Dream Pad” that can be very helpful for certain kinds of insomnia and sleep disturbances. Both Madaule and Minson’s work grew out of training with Alfred Tomatis, MD.
Keep in mind that there are many kinds of balance problems, with different causes. The Brain That Changes Itself describes one approach that works for a number of these, developed by Paul Bach-y-Rita, and his team. This is cutting edge research, and not widely available as of yet. Unfortunately, Dr. Bach-y-Rita passed away. However, the lab he set up went on to develop the PoNS (see question on the PoNS) which we hope will be available within a year through Helius Medical Technologies.
The leader in the treatment of stroke-induced paralysis that Dr. Doidge would turn to for someone he cared about is Dr. Edward Taub. Contact his clinic at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call their toll free number: 866-554-TAUB. They also have techniques to help people with aphasia, who have lost the ability to speak.
They are the pioneers in this treatment, and you should contact them and see if they can help you. You can’t do this treatment on the Internet. You have to be willing to go to the clinic in Alabama for about 10 days. The cost is reasonable. Because Dr. Taub and his clinic pioneered this therapy, they have the most experience with it, by far. The Brain’s Way of Healing will describe new, additional techniques to help stroke. It will be published January 27, 2015.
The same Taub clinic has begun working with children with CP and has had successes with those other illnesses as well. These interventions don’t cure MS, but they can, at times, recruit healthy cells to take over lost functions.
One program that Dr. Doidge has not investigated, but that he has heard about, is Novavision. It is designed to help people who have lost parts of their visual fields after a brain injury, and involves retraining. Dr. Doidge has not yet studied it or met with the scientists, or with people who have tried it yet, but he thinks it looks interesting, and if he had this kind of problem, he would certainly look into it. Take a look at the site: http://www.novavision.com/index.php?gclid=CJ7FnoeqhJYCFQWlQAodJ0kXFw
The Arrowsmith School, (http://www.arrowsmithschool.org/) which Dr. Doidge wrote about in chapter 2, is an extraordinary school, with 90 branches now. The school, now with over 35 years of experience, uses neuroplasticity to treat and often overcome a large range of the commonest learning disorders, both verbal and nonverbal. Barbara Arrowsmith Young is the pioneer, par excellence, in brain-based assessment of learning problems (assessments that really show which brain function needs work) and brain exercises for these problems. While the school’s program has to be done at one of the school sites, they have a Cognitive Profile Questionnaire online to help individuals identify their cognitive learning profile.
Please note, The Brain’s Way of Healing describes other approaches to learning disorders, dyslexia, autism, sensory processing disorder and ADD. These approaches are definitely worth investigating as well.
Arrowsmith School, (http://www.arrowsmithschool.org/) has a model in which it sets up programs in existing schools. If you are interested, contact the above address for further information. They are setting up new school programs. As of now, over ninety schools carry the Arrowsmith Program.
If it is a learning disorder based on auditory processing, Scientific Learning at http://www.scilearn.com/ has a program that has been tested and shown excellent results, with hundreds of thousands of people. This is the Fast ForWord program Dr. Doidge described in chapter 3. Developed by world leaders in neuroplasticity, the program can be ordered and done on one’s computer at home. It is quite fast, if you have the brain problem it treats, and you can do it at home. The Brain’s Way of Healing will describe additional programs for auditory processing, which Dr. Doidge has followed for seven years, and is very impressed with.
Dr. Doidge wrote extensively of the work of Dr. Michael Merzenich, a professor who started a company, called Posit Science, at http://www.positscience.com. As far as Dr. Doidge is currently aware, their language-based program, Brain-HQ, has the most high quality scientific studies behind it, of any such program. It was developed by a team of neuroscientists with extraordinary scientific and practical knowledge. It is described in chapter 3, and more in chapter 10 of the book. Recently, their program for vision, called Insight, has been released, and it too is very sophisticated. As well, light cardiovascular exercise is very helpful for preserving the brain. Check with your doctor. Recent studies of brain exercises show that time spent on the ones described yield benefits for many years after, and the skills learned in the exercises generalize to everyday life.
The same Posit Science program, described above, has been tested for chemo brain (or chemo fog) and for veterans with brain damage, with good results. It tunes up the brain. Contact http://www.positscience.com for more information. An injured brain becomes a noisy brain, that doesn’t make strong clear signals. This program may be helpful for other causes of brain problems, when your brain isn’t working as well, in the language-memory realm, as it once did, after some kind of injury.
If you’ve read The Brain That Changes Itself, you yourself may have a grasp of some of the key principles of plastic change. As the neuroplastic paradigm progressively replaces the notion of the fixed brain, there is a possibility that some people or companies, just to “get in on the action,” will say, “You know, I rewire the brain,” without really being familiar with the core principles. Ask for an account of precisely how their treatment works, and copies of articles or studies on it, and see if that clinician is simply making the claim to sound au courant, or whether he or she has a more in-depth knowledge. People like Merzenich, Taub, Arrowsmith, Bach-y-Rita’s group, and the others described in the book, have all made the serious scientific attempt to validate their results. Other practitioners who are creative, but don’t have scientific backgrounds may also have programs that use plasticity, but check to see if they have written about their work, and can give a deeply thought out explanation of how it works.
Sometimes people are told they have ADD, when in fact they have a subtle learning disorder. If the brain has an area that has low capacity, when that area is taxed, you get frustrated, upset, distracted, and may even start to look impulsive. Some children seen by the Arrowsmith School come in diagnosed as having ADD or ADHD, and when they strengthen their weakened areas, they no longer need stimulants or other medication. In fact, those children may not have had ADD in the first place. Others at the Arrowsmith School—sometimes—find that they do have ADD and medication helps them do their brain exercises. There are other approaches to ADD that appear to involve engaging plasticity and training the brain. Dr. Doidge has yet to investigate these intensively, but he thinks that they may show promise. One is the use of brain exercises to train attention. (Discussed briefly in his book). There is promising work being done on people who have had strokes and lose the ability to pay close attention. They appear to respond to brain exercises. A group in the U.S., called CogMed, at http://www.cogmed.com/ has a group of exercises, with some studies done. (Again, Dr. Doidge has not visited CogMed labs or tried their exercises, but he notes they are doing studies.) Neurofeedback also has had important successes with ADD. See next section. The Brain’s Way of Healing will also describe new techniques, not described in the first book, that are very powerful, to treat ADD and ADHD. Stay tuned.
An approach called “neurofeedback” is also showing promise. It involves making people aware of their brain waves (patterns of neuronal firing) and learning to control them. A number of studies and hundreds of clinical cases show that it can be successful with the right client. It is discussed at: http://www.sharpbrains.com/blog/2008/01/25/how-strong-is-the-research-support-for-neurofeedback-treatment-of-children-with-adhd/#comment-191546 The International Society for Neurofeedback & Research, the ISNR, is a major North American group that puts on conferences, teaches, and is a focus for research. It is at http://www.isnr.org Another site that lists and discusses neurofeedback is: http://www.eegspectrum.com/ It has a section on other conditions treated. Neurofeedback is used to treat a variety of conditions, including fear, sleep problems, chronic pain, epilepsy, teeth grinding, certain kinds of brain and mood disorders, chronic fatigue, some learning disorders, autistic spectrum disorders, ADD, TBI, Tourette Syndrome, etc.. In Toronto, Dr. Doidge refers to Dr. Lynda Thompson at the ADD Centre and Biofeedback Institute of Toronto, at http://www.addcentre.com
Scores of them. Dr. Doidge thinks that The Feldenkrais Method, Tai Chi, Meditation and martial arts (especially the internal ones), learning languages through immersion, learning to play a musical instrument, forms of physical and occupational therapy, often engage it in a sophisticated way.
Here are some good ones: cognitive neurorehabilitation, neurorehabilitation, neurorehab, cognitive rehab, experience-based plasticity, neuroplasticity, neural plasticity, neuronal plasticity, brain plasticity, plasticity.
See his website, http://www.davidwebberseeingclearly.com