Brainpower can accomplish amazing things.
The concept of neuroplasticity is one that hasn't been in the public vocabulary for very long, but it's already getting people to rethink big parts of medicine and therapy. Our ability to treat neurological issues has grown leaps and bounds in the last few years, allowing for previously prohibitive conditions to become significantly more manageable. This has become especially valuable in the world of sport's medicine, where its advantages are twofold: creating more effective treatments for injuries such as concussions while providing athletes with regimens that let them hone their motor reflexes.
Let's back up to discuss some basic vocabulary for a second. For starters, what is neuroplasticity?
To put it simply: neuroplasticity is our brain's ability to change over time by growing and reorganizing neural networks. Neural pathways that are used frequently are reinforced, while ones that go neglected will become less prominent over time. It's the process that's at work in your brain when you learn new skills. If you've ever noticed yourself developing reflexes for exercise that used to require a lot of conscious brainpower, you're seeing neuroplasticity at work!
While neuroplasticity is still a newer concept in the world of cognitive therapy and rehabilitation, it's opened some incredible doors.
Injuries and illnesses that cause neurological conditions are a serious matter. Head trauma from car accidents and career sports injuries are two common forms of neurological problems, and both can mean a long, uphill battle in recovery. The integration of neuroplastic treatments into recovery seems to be making a huge difference!
One of the companies at the forefront of this medical frontier is NeuraPerformance Brain Center, an organization that's been using revolutionary neuroplasticity treatments to make a difference in people's lives. What makes them so unique is that the intersection they occupy is between sports medicine and cognitive therapy. Fans of Colorado sports will be excited to know that parts of NeuraPerformance can be traced to Denver's sports teams!
NeuraPerformance Clinic Director Shawn Caldwell has over 20 years of experience working with professional sports teams to ensure player health. In fact, he's been the Colorado Rockies team chiropractor since 1999 and worked with the Denver Broncos for 13 years. He also consults with the Denver Nuggets! You can see some of Caldwell's expertise here:
NeuraPerformance employs a variety of different treatment options to accomplish a variety of outcomes. One of their most common treatments is Neurofeedback, a process that is used to treat migraines, concussions, and plenty of other conditions. This process has patients wear a brainwave-detecting helmet and interact with a special computer system that reads inputs from the user's brainwaves, allowing them to control objects on a screen by selectively focusing. By adjusting the contents of the screen and providing reaction prompts, neurofeedback helps condition patients to use their brains more actively and mindfully while reinforcing structures that can help in cognitive recovery.
Another treatment is GyroStim, which places patients in a chair that can move along multiple different axes and asking them to perform complex tasks. As patients will be rotating in directions that they probably aren't used to, this goes a long way in both developing new reflexes and forcing participants to engage their existing ones. What's interesting is that neither of these treatments are exclusive to patients undergoing rehabilitative therapy: they are also used by athletes looking to train their reflexes and improve their performance.
In addition to these things, NeuraPerformance has developed a variety of other treatments, such as the use of oxygen-rich hyperbaric chambers to boost the body's natural healing properties and Dynavision D2, which is used in concussion baseline testing and gaze/gait stabilization.
Companies like NeuraPerformance represent an exciting frontier in the medical world. Conditions that once used to require invasive (and expensive) treatments just to manage can now be addressed more effectively. From competitive sports to traumatic accidents, to genetic conditions, the frontier of medicine is accomplishing some incredible things!