Our treatment program is shaped by the latest research in neuroscience. Each of the modalities that we employ is informed by what we now know about the brain, what we can learn about the particular individuality of each resident, and how we can craft a treatment plan specific to each resident.
Neuroplasticity, or the ability of the brain to change itself, is at the very center of our program. Research on the brain has demonstrated that our most complex organ can rewire itself in response to experience. With every repetition of a thought or emotion, we reinforce a neural pathway – and with each new thought, we begin to create a new way of being. The small changes, frequently enough repeated, lead to changes in how our brains work.
We know that over a period of time consistent, positive, empathetic, and compassionate experiences can rewire the brain, resulting in new and healthy neural pathways. These connections can produce healthy decision-making, optimism, hope, trust, and resilience. Since the brain is pivotal to all we think and do, by harnessing neuroplasticity we can improve everything we do and think and bring lasting recovery.
Neuroplasticity is the ‘muscle building’ part of the brain; the things we do often we become stronger better at, what we don’t use fades away. That is the physical basis of why making a thought or action over and over again increases its power. Over time, it becomes automatic; a part of us. We literally become what we think and do.
Using anxiety as an example, if an individual is prone to anxiety, and then becomes repeatedly caught up in a loop of thinking that results in increased anxiety, the brain will become wired for anxiety. Conversely, when anxiety-reducing tools such as calming and peaceful techniques, and/or the experience of taking healthy risks with positive results, anxiety pathways are diminished from lack of activity. This makes way for new neural pathways that are not anxiety ridden.
Finally, research on the brain has also shown that neuroplasticity is affected by lifestyle choices, nutrition, exercise, sleep patterns, and level of stress. As such, all our groups, activities, educational lectures, etc. are designed to provide the best opportunity for plasticity to occur. This is why we include a broad spectrum of therapies and activities, healthy and nourishing food, and nutraceutical alternatives to medication as well as a sleep lab. Our equine program, art therapy, psychotherapy, and adventure therapies all work together to retrain the brain to better health.
QEEG BRAIN MAPPING
Sabino Recovery is presently the only inpatient trauma and addiction recovery center to offer QEEG Brain Mapping. This powerful tool allows us to measure the electrical function of the brain, which provides a more accurate diagnosis and allows us to prioritize and optimize treatment specific to the needs of the resident. QEEG Brain Mapping provides us and the resident of physiologic markers for a more precise diagnosis (such as ADHD, depression, PTSD, or brain injury, for instance) as well as accurately guide in medication management.
It can identify previously unidentified learning disabilities and learning styles as well as other important neuro and biological markers. This data immediately advances the ability of the clinical team to individualize the treatment plan for each resident that participates.
We utilize an advanced neurological technology called a QEEG which produces a brain map that allows us to quantify the power, amount, distribution and ratio of various brain waves. This is an entirely a non-invasive reading of the brain’s activity and frequency patterns and involves no radiation or injections of any kind.
Neurofeedback is a way to quantify and train brain activity; it is brainwave biofeedback. The basic principles of how neurofeedback works are deceptively simple.
Communication between groups of cells in the brain generates thoughts, sensations, actions and emotions. This activity is detectable in the form of brainwaves – electrical impulses generated by your brain activity.
During a neurofeedback session, sensors detect your brainwaves to see your brain in action. A computer compares your brain activity to targets or goals for you to reach. Sounds and images tell you immediately when your brain reaches your goal and when not – when you are activating or suppressing the target area of the brain.
Based on the results of the evaluative QEEG (Brain Mapping), we place sensors on the head in the places where the brain has been shown to be producing overactive or underactive wave patterns. The sensors are linked to a sophisticated computer that converts the information into visual stimuli on a screen which the individual watches. The individual watches as the visuals change in response to the fluctuations in their brain wave activity. The brain learns what is needed to produce the correct brain patterns. If you do this repetitively the brain starts to produce the desired response with greater and greater ease much like what happens in the development of muscle memory in athletes.
Eventually the brain learns to automatically choose the correct wave patterns. You can see this type of neurological learning when you watch someone learn to walk, ride a bike, drive or to recognize a song. It is the brain’s job to make doing tasks as fast and efficient as possible which means replacing old patterns with new, more effective patterns.
Neurofeedback and Trauma
Neurofeedback therapy works at a deep subconscious level by rewiring dysregulated or maladaptive neural patterns, and reorganize brain structure to break the cycle of trauma and post-traumatic symptoms. By identifying and training the areas of concern, we precisely tailor your sessions to help you shift out of these patterns and back into a natural, neutral state.
Neurofeedback gives the brain the tools to move past traumatic events – without having to talk about them, explore them, or relive them.
Biofeedback is a treatment technique in which people are trained to improve their health by using signals from their own bodies. Biofeedback trains the brain to respond to the body’s stress signals before they become too intense and to take action to relieve stress before it impacts the ability to complete tasks or handle emotions.
During biofeedback, residents are connected to a biofeedback machine that creates a sound whenever the person starts getting stressed (increased heart rate, blood pressure, etc., would cause the machine to product the sound). By paying attention to the sounds, the person can use relaxation techniques when there are some internal changes due to the stress – even if they are not yet feeling them, the effects can be identified by the machine and then controlled by the person. Through this technique, residents learn to control their physical reactions to stress.