Traumatic brain injury and cognitive decline are both issues that have come into the public eye and gained new attention in recent years.
TBI is a big problem right now within professional sports, but many other individuals suffer from non-sports related brain injuries. Degenerative neural conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s have increased dramatically, and along with these physiological issues, there have been increases in psychological issues, with a rise in anxiety, PTSD, depression, and addiction.
Healing the Brain
Dr. Dan Engle suffered from multiple severe concussions himself as an athlete in his younger years, and his last, most significant injury happened almost twenty years ago. At that time, there wasn’t much talk in the space about neurologic recovery from concussion, but his experience motivated him to get into the lab to spend twenty years and a quarter of a million dollars researching.
That research came together into various protocols he used with professional athletes, and this essentially became the book, The Concussion Repair Manual: A Practical Guide to Recovering from Traumatic Brain Injuries.
He wanted to write the book as a user’s guide. It’s both written from the perspective of the lay person, so you can understand the material, as well as the clinician, and it has somewhere around six hundred different resources and studies verifying the data for each of the modalities that have been put into the book.
Dr. Dan and his associates have been proving more and more of this model at his recovery center in Denver called Revive, where people come for two week deep dives to have an immersive experience with diagnostics and therapeutics to see how much they can improve in the given time, and then continue to improve when they return home.
However, not everyone has the option to experience the benefits of this research in the clinical setting. The manual is centered around the available protocols that people can put into practical use at home.
The first portion of the book is based in what he calls Primal or Primary Therapies or Technologies. These are like the basic building blocks of life. Flotation is one of these therapies. According to Dr. Engle, floatation therapy is one of the best things for people to do immediately after concussion. Water and floatation therapy is a great accelerator for restoring and recovering the entire neurologic system.
Other therapies include things like diet, light therapy, low-level laser therapy, frequency therapies, oxygen therapy, and many more. All of these technologies have well-researched data to back them up in support of their use in brain recovery, and the opportunity Dr. Dan sees right now is to put all of these available technologies into one umbrella system, codify the protocol, track the data, and scale it out, so that more people can benefit from them--not just those suffering from TBI, but anyone in need of neurologic recovery and restoration.
While the Revive center in Denver focuses on neurological recovery, Dr. Dan and his team are opening up another facility in Austin, Texas to focus on psychological recovery, his other area of interest and expertise.
According to Dr. Dan, we’re seeing a massive shift now in healthcare. Western medicine has dominated the space over the last hundred years, but in the last ten to fifteen years there has been more of a movement towards functional medicine, integrative medicine, or holistic medicine, which he sees as a positive shift, because this way of operating looks at a larger aspect of the self--not just quandranting different body systems into little, separate compartments.
What does it look like to address the whole person on all levels--body, mind, heart, and soul--and what does it look like to bring in the contemporary process that we’re all going through in this transformational culture?
We’re more and more connected to people globally than we’ve ever been, but we’re less connected communally--heart to heart, face to face, skin to skin, touch to touch. Our communities are more and more stretched thin because of the pace of our society, because of the distraction and the quickness of our media, the movement of information, and the fact that we haven’t genetically advanced our neurology to be able to continue to match the accelerated speed of technology.
The five primary epidemics in psychiatry and psychology right now are anxiety, depression, PTSD, addiction, and pain, and these stretched-thin experiences are sociologically and psychologically leading to a good portion of these epidemics.
We’re at the precipice of an entirely new translation of that transformational culture into the medical codified process and the field of transformational medicine is itself opening up.
Doing the Deeper Work
As kids we think everything is about us--and sometimes as adults we think that too--but particularly if you look at toddlers aged two through four, they test boundaries, they say ‘no’ often, seeing how much control they have over their environment, and when there’s a traumatic experience, they believe they’re responsible for it.
We’ve all done this, and this is where and how we take on much of our guilt and shame, and the identification with whether or not love is safe, or bonding is safe, whether or not we are worthy of receiving love, or if we’re even able to give and receive love.
Much of the formative psychological structure of who we become later is solidified when we are very young. We don’t even connect the language center of the brain to the memory center of the brain until we are five or six years old, about the time we start going to school.
So in psychotherapy it’s difficult to get to the earlier stuff, because we haven’t even languaged our experiences before five years of age, and often we don’t have a narrative for it. For getting deeper, there are many different ways of reaching into the subconscious material.
The ego is based on survival. It helps us navigate the world, stay safe, and it stands for two things: danger and opportunity. The ego is constantly reading the field, so, for example, with floatation therapy, when you’re in the float tank, you finally have the opportunity to stop doing that as well as to gate gravity, visual stimulus, auditory input, proprioceptive input (sensations from joints, muscles and connective tissues that underlie body awareness), and all of that starts to relax.
This provides the opportunity for the brain to become more aware and the subconscious to have more space to bring that material out onto the surface. Floating is an excellent foundation for everything that we do, including meditation, journey work, and medicine work.
So, you’ve done the deeper work, what are the steps to take to become a more whole version of yourself and integrate what you’ve learned?
It’s important to recognize that if you don’t actually make things real and workable, you can actually destabilize yourself, because you have brought all of this to the surface, but you haven’t done anything with it.
What does the integration process look like? Dr. Dan says that the number one invitation he gives to people is to drop all expectation. Completely surrender, trust the process, and have faith that the experience that’s unfolding is the one that’s exactly meant for you at this time.
There’s so much crisis happening in humanity right now. In many ways we have it better than we’ve ever had it, but we’re going through all of these changes and shifts, and if we’re oriented towards leaning into it and learning from it, then we can leverage that crisis as a prelude to our transformation.
Crisis precedes transformation every time. Crisis is what motivates us and gets us into action. We can use it as an opportunity; we just have to take ownership of it.
The Concussion Repair Manual helps people recover from traumatic brain injury
We haven’t genetically advanced our neurology to match the accelerated speed of technology
Opening the door for deeper subconscious work
Crisis precedes transformation