EXPLORING A NEW HOPE IN WELLNESS & BRAIN HEALTH
Written by Josh Schueller, PT / Edited by: Graciella Davi
As a practicing Physical Therapist, I adhere to the philosophy of 'treating the whole person'. This means that when a patient undergoes some form of therapy, it is common to uncover a variety of facets to their injury or condition. The term “PHYSICAL therapy” can sometimes be conflicting as it suggests that the therapist only looks at the physical aspects. Many injuries are comprised of multiple layers and all of them need to be considered to restore normal functions.
Sufferers of ACL injuries (as an example) recover physically long before they are confident to run, jump, or cut without reservations. People who suffer injuries in a car accident may have a psychological component that ultimately limits full recovery. Traditional Physical Therapy does not usually have the means or time to focus diagnosing or treating the emotional or psychological components that can lead to chronic pain or dysfunction. This can lead to people suffering for years with chronic pain despite being healed physically.
I recently received a demo model for reviewing of a wearable device marketed as a brain fitness app and meditation aid (called BrainTap®). According to its literature and white papers, the engineers employ a confluence of BINAURAL BEATS, ISOCHRONIC TONES, HOLOGRAPHIC MUSIC and RED/BLUE LIGHT to affect the user’s focus, enhance sleep, and improve mental health. Through a “symphony of brainwave activity”, the various physical reactions lead to holistic healing, improved learning and productivity. The audio guide describes benefits like improved balance to the alpha (relaxed, intuitive and creative), beta (awake and alert), delta (deep sleep and recovery), gamma (peak concentration and cognition) and theta (healing).
BREAKDOWN OF THE ACTIVE FUNCTIONS
Based on my experience with this device, I took apart the featured integrated effects that make up this meditational program.
1. BINAURAL BEATS: essentially, it’s a form of sound wave therapy. It has two varying frequencies, one in each ear. The brain identifies the difference between the two and the science of this apparently leads you to experience a deep relaxed state.
2. GUIDED VISUALIZATION: Imagine getting a coach to train you on how to see with your mind, and to lift yourself into a positive mode. During the period of relaxation, the narrator/guide (Dr. Patrick Porter, the developer) helps you contemplate and explore the kind of mental images that helps you transcend ‘away from your current self’. I recognize the theory that visualization can improve mental, physical, sports performance, and even assist in body healing. Therapists use this tool with their patients often as a way to help them imagine an idea to manifest into reality.
3. 10-CYCLE HOLOGRAPHIC MUSIC- the quality headphones produces a 360 degree sound environment. This allows the visualization to become real in your mind creating an improved learning state.
4. ISOCHRONIC TONES- This is comprised of equal intensity pulses of sound separated by intervals of silence. Upon review, these tones are often used in other relaxation products because it is easy for the brain to follow.
There are a variety of wearable devices on the market to help you relax, clear your mind- and even sleep better. I took on the BrainTap review for several weeks and started assessing a random list of programs that the app offers. These where guided meditation that can take you through different modalities. The headset and visor deliver light therapy while the soothing, “Barry White-quality voice” brings you through the entire catalog of programs including sleep improvement, life mastery, weight wellness, optimal health, stress free-me, paleo lifestyle and many more. Each category one more inviting than the next.
In the middle of a work day, relaxing your mind takes effort. Perhaps by the very act of scheduling a specific part of my day to do this helped me adjust more easily. Unlike many headphones that are flimsy and not fitting right, I appreciated the solid weight of the unit because this felt substantial to firmly hug my head, eyes and ears and place me into that zone. The headset and visor are surprisingly comfortable and easy to wear. With the right sounds in my ears, I am able to create the proper environment, let it be improving your focus, your retention or relaxation. Once the program is chosen, you can relax as Dr. Porter takes you on your journey. I have taken on the advice of various YouTube testimonials who advise lying down in a relaxed physical position for best results. Each session takes around 20 minutes or so. Having listened to this uniquely composed music, the different beats and frequencies inspire thoughts and reactions throughout. It truly is a journey that brings up a visceral response.
I assess the experience like going through two different layers of consciousness and relaxation. As you travel through your mind, you become focused on one thing- which is the concentrated relaxation while your brain has a chance to wander through different parts of your inner self. That is not something we can usually do throughout our work day when we're surrounded by computers and phone calls.
RECOGNIZABLE EFFECTS / BEFORE & AFTER STUDY
The overall experience left me relaxed initially as I used the preliminary programs. Once the focus shifted to specific groups, I noticed some differences in outcomes. Because this is geared as personalized wellness, I chose to use the device during the afternoons when I normally experience the “hitting the wall “period of the day. I often start the use of the device (BEFORE) when I am distracted (too much on my mind), losing focus and decreased concentration- what I consider to align with poor mental performance. AFTER completing a session, I find myself to feel refreshed, focused, and relived of stress. Initially, the light through the visor was distracting but as my brain synchronized, I acclimated within a few uses and hardly notice it.
I observed that each BrainTap session is comprised of 3 phases:
- Initial relaxation- where the tension leaves your body
- Deep, relaxed sleep
- Focused and precise concentration
The time spent in the deep relaxed sleep decreases and the focused awareness increased the more sessions I completed. Overall, my sessions appear to affect the mind-body connection positively. Logic (and everything we know about personal balance and wellness) dictates that when the mind and body are not connected, increased stress and poor focus can occur. I can only imagine this is the sound logic that Dr. Porter pursued in his blueprints.
The health of our mind can be a leading factor in our life. In my experience if you do not have proper brain synchronization your workout can be torpedoed before it even begins. This is the same with work. Other sessions including ‘weight wellness’ also provided surprising effects. I found myself to go several hours into the evening without craving food. The more sessions I completed, the more benefits I recognized. Over the last several weeks, I logged improvements in sleep, concentration and decreased stress and found the changes to be significant, noticeable and consistent.
This device review has been as much a positive experience about the technology, as it has been a profound reflection on our human condition. As many people spend endless hours on social media and media in general, the connection between mind and body suffers. The negativity and doomsday predictions can leave someone “uncalibrated”. This imbalance can increase stress and cause the body to suffer (pain). If the body is out of equilibrium, it becomes more susceptible to sickness, pain, and dysfunction. This BrainTap device may actually hold the answer (or at least a portion of it) in synchronizing the brain into a calibrated state. When the mind and body gets in sync, healing and recovery becomes possible. As the health and wellness model evolves, having the capability to promote brain and body health becomes vital to obtaining optimal results.