San Antonio Living TV Segment: “Incredible TBI Recovery”

Vital Connections

 Four years after a devastating motorcycle accident left him with the brain function of a child, TBI survivor John Keller visits with Shelly Miles, host of the TV show San Antonio Living, about his incredible recovery. Joining John and Shelly on the set are Gina Cruz of LearningRx, and John’s dad, James Keller.

 Two years ago, the Kellers contacted the San Antonio Northeast LearningRx Brain Training Center. The Texas family was desperate for a solution to help John reclaim even a little of the mental performance lost as a result of the massive head trauma sustained in the accident. When he began working with the certified trainers at LearningRx, John—then 35 and a graduate of Texas A&M—was struggling severely with a brain that was functioning in many areas at the level of a three-year-old.

Until contacting LearningRx, this father-of-two had been working extensively with physical therapists to reclaim his body. It was time, the family decided, to reclaim his brain.                                      

After going through one-on-one brain training at LearningRx, John’s brain is functioning today at the level of a 19-year-old, a gain of 16 years in brain performance in less than two years of training. The transformation, say those who know John, is astounding.

Gina Cruz, who owns the brain training center that helped John, explains that her company’s unique approach of teaming clients one-on-one with certified trainers is based on the science of neuroplasticity. “You can rewire your brain,” Gina explains. “You are not stuck with the brain that you have.”

She compares exercising your brain to exercising your muscles.  “Just as being coached through an intense regimen of weight training stimulates your muscles to change and grow, being coached through an intense regimen of mental exercise stimulates your brain to change and grow, too, by strengthening and even creating new neural pathways.” She says this “bulking up” of the brain’s communication systems forever changes how the brain grasps and processes information.

One-on-one brain training has been so life changing for John that another family member has gone through the program, seeking help for a problem altogether different than recovery from a TBI. John’s six-year-old son recently completed LiftOff, a LearningRx program designed to give early learners a strong launch in school.

John sought the school-readiness program for his son after teachers recommended the kindergartner be held back from promotion to first grade. After John enrolled his son in the LiftOff program, improvements were so dramatic that the boy not only went on into first grade, he is now getting all A’s and B’s.

Now that John and his son have gone through LearningRx, John jokes that his dad, James, president of a family-owned business of 37 convenience stores, is next. Which may not be a bad idea, since LearningRx clients also include high-achieving career adults who want to stay sharp.

As John explained to Shelly Miles during the interview segment which aired on San Antonio Living, “You want good muscles, go to the gym. You want a good brain, work it out.”

His family, however, has a more poignant description of what  brain workouts can do. In Vital Connections, a book chronicling the incredible journey of John’s TBI recovery, the Kellers say that, if John hadn’t undergone brain training, he would still be an adult trying to function in life with the mental skills of a child. 

Brain training, they say, turned John back into a man.

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Advice from One Mom to Another: “Definitely Something You Should Look Into. It’s Life Changing!”

One Mom’s Advice to Another

When moms need unbiased advice, where do they turn? To other moms, of course!

 

In this online conversation between two moms, one woman describes…

…what made her daughter, in the first two months of third grade, completely forget how to read!

…something that “rang true” to her “Mom’s-gut-instinct”

…how she got her daughter IQ to jump 18 points!

…the absolute best parenting decision she has ever made.

 

If your child is struggling with memory, reading, addition or subtraction, or even writing essays that make sense, you’ll appreciate what this mom went through and how she solved these same problems for her daughter. Read her comments here.

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What Creative Thinking Looks Like

Why Being Able to Think Creatively Is Important

 What does solving a financial dilemma, remodeling a house, crafting a speech, and even dressing up your dogs and playing make-believe with your kids have in common? All these activities can benefit from the use of creative thinking. In other words, creative thinking isn’t just for writers and artists.

So what do we know about the mysterious process of creativity?

In the sixties, Dr. Sarnoff Mednick concluded that creativity is the result of connecting random bits of information to create new and original ideas. He went on to say that the more remote the bits of information are from each other, the more creative the idea.

Today, neuroscientists are discovering that, in the brain, that’s what creative thinking actually looks like.

In the brain, neuron cells are greyish in color, while the axons that connect neurons to each other are white. These axons—called white matter—create the pathways in our brain through which thoughts and information are communicated. In other words, more white matter means more communication going on in the brain.

Researchers and scientists, led by Drs. Hikaru Takeuchi and Yasuyuki Taki, measured the connectivity in the brains of 42 men and 13 women. What they discovered was that people who tested high in creativity also had more white matter connecting remote parts of their brain where diverse information is stored. The authors concluded that integrated white matter across broad regions of the brain underlie creativity by allowing us to do exactly what Dr. Mednick described: connect random bits of information to come up with new and original ideas.

Even better, the authors of the study say training that develops working memory can strengthen and increase the tracts of white matter in our brains! LearningRx clients, by working one-on-one with a LearningRx brain trainer, receive training that does exactly that: target and strengthen working memory, as well as six other core cognitive skills in the brain. In fact, after LearningRx brain training, kids, teens and adults who struggle with working memory are able to improve that skill by an average of 31 percentile points, and even clients who come to LearningRx with above-average working memories see an average gain of 13 percentile points.

Whether you’re crunching numbers, remodeling a house, crafting a speech, sculpting a statue, writing The Great American Novel or even just raising kids, being able to think creatively is important. And one-on-one brain training can help you strengthen the neural connections that make creative thinking possible.

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Weird-but-True Facts About Your Brain

Fun Brain Facts to Know and Share

What do you really know about your own brain? Let’s take a closer look at that gelatinous mass between your ears with five weird-but-true brain facts:

Your brain is softer than you probably think. What is the consistency of your brain? Brain tissue has been described as having the same consistency as Jell-O, warm butter and even the inside of an avocado! No wonder a bump on the head while playing sports, riding a bike or even tripping over your own feet can do serious damage.

Your eyeballs are actually a part of your brain. If a mad scientist unhinged your skull and pulled out your brain to inspect it, your eyeballs would come out with it!  Sight is the only sense that is connected directly to the brain –optic nerve fibers connect the retina to the brain, information is carried right along to the occipital lobe located in the back of the brain.

Your stomach has been nicknamed your “second brain.”  The stomach has been dubbed “the second brain” because it contains such an extensive network of neurons that it can function independently of the main brain between your ears.  No other organ can function independently of the brain in your head. This extensive network of neurons also allows the stomach to evaluate information, stress or the environment and respond with a “gut instinct,” that “knotted” feeling if you’re under stress, or “butterflies” when you’re nervous.

Your brain has no feelings.  Your brain can tell you if you’re in pain, but it can’t feel pain itself because it doesn’t have a nerve system of its own!  That’s why a surgeon can poke you in the brain while you’re AWAKE (creepy, right?) and you won’t feel anything.  So why do you feel the pain of a headache? It’s because of the effect of pressure on nerve tissue and blood vessels.

Your brain can physically reorganize itself.  Neuroplasticity is a fancy way of saying the brain is plastic—it can be molded, reshaped and changed—and it has this ability at every age throughout our entire lives. Scientists now know that, in response to intense mental exercises, the brain can be stimulated to strengthen, reroute and even create new neural pathways. This increases the efficiency with which brain cells communicate with each other.   Think of it as defragmenting your computer. Suddenly everything is running faster and more efficiently than before!  This is what one-on-one brain training does for kids and adults of every age. Wouldn’t you like to have a faster, smarter brain?

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Bet You Can’t Tickle Yourself

How Does the Brain Ignore Self-Tickling?

If someone makes a grab for that ticklish place above your knee, you double over in laughing protest. When you grab your own knee, nothing happens.

You can’t tickle yourself because your brain doesn’t pay as much attention to sensations caused by your own actions. In fact, brain scans show that neurons in the cerebral cortex—the part of the brain responsible for attention, awareness and consciousness—are less active during a self-tickle than when someone else is doing the tickling!

Scientists say the brain distinguishes between expected sensations caused by our own actions (for example, the pressure of the keyboard against our fingertips when we type) and unexpected sensations from our environment (for example, if someone sneaks up from behind and taps us on the shoulder). The reason? Heightened awareness of unexpected contact from our environment helps keep us safe.

And, perhaps, being less aware of our own movements keeps us sane. Imagine if you were constantly aware of the feel of your shirt against your skin, ever mindful of the vibrations of your own vocal chords as you spoke, or acutely aware of the feel of your own hair against your neck. That kind of nonstop mental stimulation would drive you nuts. When you look at it that way, not being able to tickle yourself is a small price to pay for sanity.

 

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Guest Blogger: One Homeschooling Mom’s Journey from Self-Doubt to Solutions (and Chocolate!)

Homeschooling Moms Find Help at LearningRx

Meet guest blogger Julie Worthy. Julie, who homeschools her four children, has already put three of her children through LearningRx brain training (with plans for number four!). In this post, Julie tells the story of another homeschooling mom she met at the LearningRx Center in Jacksonville, Florida.

After successfully homeschooling her daughter from kindergarten through ninth grade, Elizabeth discovered that her daughter was struggling with her schoolwork.  It was the first time ever!

It seems a common thread among homeschool moms to question our decisions when we hit a bump in the road.  The questions buzz like a swarm of bees.  “Did I do something wrong?” “If she were in public school would she be struggling like this?” “Did I choose the appropriate curriculum?”

I think, for most homeschool moms, our default mode is to question ourselves when we stumble.  However, looking back on my own homeschooling adventure I believe there is always a purpose in the stumbling.

Elizabeth began to search online for answers. That’s where she learned about one-on-one brain training at LearningRx. When I met Elizabeth at the LearningRx Center in Jacksonville, FL I was touched by her story.  Many people have never even heard of brain training, but Elizabeth could see right away that it held the solution to whatever her daughter was facing.

I had the privilege of meeting Elizabeth on her first day at the center.  Her daughter was shy and a bit nervous as they waited for their trainer.  I encouraged them both by sharing that one of my children had been skeptical about brain training as well.  All it took was one day of training, however, and he loved it!

Toward the end of that same week I met Elizabeth in the lobby once again.  I asked how the week had gone.  She told me her daughter enjoyed it and was excited to return.  When Elizabeth had realized her daughter was struggling, she was naturally concerned. Now—just a few weeks later—this mom was filled with hope and anticipation. In fact, as we talked, she was smiling as she popped a Hershey’s Kiss into her mouth.

Now that’s happiness!!

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Here’s to a Healthier Brain! Bottoms Up!

Flavanols Found in Chocolate Benefit Your Brain!

 

A recent study proves something you’ve been wishing were true: Chocolate is good for you!

You heard right! Chocolate has been scientifically proven to boost blood flow to certain areas of the brain. It’s the flavanols in chocolate that make it so healthy, and the darker the chocolate the better. Flavanols can also be found in foods like red wine, green tea, and blueberries. But let’s get back to the business of discussing chocolate.

Scientists found that drinking a flavanol-rich cocoa drink increased the flow of blood to the brain for two to three hours. Using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), these scientists were able to detect increased activity in specific areas of the brain in individuals who drank just one serving of the chocolaty drink. The activity is linked to dilation of blood vessels which allows more blood–and therefore more oxygen–to reach key areas of the brain. The result?  Better performance at specific cognitive tasks, plus greater alertness.

Scientists are going to continue looking into how this information can be used to enhance brain performance for people battling fatigue (can you say everyone?) and sleep deprivation, and it may even fight the effects of aging!  The study also suggests that chocolate may be helpful in treating vascular impairment (things like strokes and dementia), thereby maintaining cardiovascular health.

So the truth about chocolate is finally out.  Eating (or even drinking!) chocolate can actually make us healthier and smarter. It’s important to choose the right chocolates, meaning those high in flavanols, like dark chocolate.  So the next time you’re tired or unfocused, hit the dark chocolate instead of the coffee pot – your brain will thank you.

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Life Is a Journey. Take Snacks and a Backpack.

Mother Enrolls Three of Her Children in LearningRx Brain Training

“What if I hate it?”

Ten-year-old Luke waved the question like a bright red flag. His mom, Julie, had just told him he’d be starting brain training at LearningRx and he was dubious about the idea, even though his brother and sister were in the same program and loved it!

His first day at the LearningRx Center, Luke frowned as he headed off with his trainer for their first session. Waiting in the reception area, Julie thought about the crazy journey that had led her family to try brain training in the first place.

Two years earlier, Julie’s oldest son Joshua, then 11, had been diagnosed with ADHD and oppositional defiant disorder (ODD). Searching for answers, Julie visited internet bulletin boards and consulted doctors. Once she paid $800 for testing that provided labels but no solutions.

Hearing about LearningRx, Julie was curious. Could targeted mental exercise really stimulate the brain to strengthen neural pathways, to the point of raising a kid’s IQ and giving him better skills for school and for life? If so, could it help Joshua? It was worth a try.

Within weeks of starting the program, Joshua was focusing better than ever. Math tests that used to take 90 minutes were now taking 20 minutes or less. And while Joshua’s oppositional behavior still  flared, Julie realized that LearningRx was removing her son’s frustration with learning so other issues could be isolated and dealt with more effectively.

So when they noticed similar behaviors in their seven-year-old daughter, Julie and her husband didn’t hesitate. They enrolled Danielle at LearningRx, too.

A week into the program, Danielle—who had always struggled with reading and writing—sat down and wrote a beautiful story about a family of horses. She also  performed in a Christmas musical, another first! By now, Joshua was taking more initiative around the house, washing dishes, vacuuming and organizing. Julie realized that brain training was giving her children confidence and motivation they’d never had before. Now she wanted the same for Luke, and then for their third son, Caleb. Julie could see that even she and her husband could benefit from brain training!

Julie’s thoughts were interrupted as Luke, done with his session, approached her. He was wearing a huge grin and carrying his LearningRx backpack filled with brain training times, cards and tools. “Mom!” he said, “I loved it!”

Yes, life is an crazy journey, alright. Julie thanked God she and her husband had found the right partners to help them equip their kids for the trip.

 

Photo credit: Julie Worthy

 

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I Didn’t Let Alzheimer’s Steal My Future

Brain Training Helps 81-Year-Old in Early Stages of Alzheimer’s

When my doctor told me I was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, I was devastated.

Not wanting to become a burden to my children, I sold my house, moved to an assisted living center, and waited for Alzheimer’s to finish robbing me of whatever quality of life I had left.

I’d been talking slower and getting confused. I couldn’t even remember my address! But the greatest loss of all had been reading. Before, I’d enjoyed reading books, magazines and my Bible every single day. Now, I could read a paragraph over and over and not understand or remember anything I’d read!

I began to sink into depression. 

That December, someone gave me a book about the brain’s ability to create new neurons at any age. The book mentioned a company—LearningRx—that pairs you up with a brain trainer who takes you through special mental exercises, stimulating your brain to reorganize existing neurons and even create new ones.

I got on the phone and called the LearningRx Brain Training Center in Bossier City, Louisiana where I live.

Could brain training help me? I’d soon know.

The first time I met Maria, my brain trainer, she immediately announced, “Now Virginia, you may be 81 years old, but you can do this, and I’m not cutting you any slack!”

Right away, she had me memorize the names of all the presidents of the United States by linking crazy images to each of their names. The next time my daughter Kenda and son-in-law Randy came to visit, I rattled off the names of all 44 presidents.

Kenda said, “Mom, I can’t even do that!”

Before long there were books and magazines all over my apartment again. I even started playing cards with my friends again.

Randy told me, “I love seeing your zest for life coming back!”

Thinking, reading, talking—even making decisions—got faster and easier. My neurologist tested my brain function and said it had jumped from 77.1 to 95.9!

At my LearningRx graduation Randy told everyone, “We have our wonderful Virginia back.”

I love being able to do the things I enjoy. Best yet, I know I’m not at the end of my life. I may be 81, but I’m not giving up. I still have a future to look forward to.

 

Watch Virginia’s Video

 

Photo credit: Cristie Magnusson

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Concussions from School Sports Were Keeping David from Landing His Dream Career

Overcoming the Impact of Concussions Caused by School Sports

 Sometimes David got to the locker room and  couldn’t remember the football game he’d just played.

In junior high, David had been a straight A student. But after a concussion, he began struggling in school, and additional concussions while playing football in high school only made things worse.

Years later, married and with a baby on the way, David graduated from a police academy. But repeatedly his applications for jobs were rejected because his test scores were too low.  After applying to 56 police departments—without a single job offer—David called LearningRx.

He calls what happened next “an awakening” of his brain.

“Shortly after starting brain training, I remembered a dream I’d had the night before,” David says. “That hadn’t happened since… well, since I was a kid! After that, improvements just kept coming.”

One day, driving on a familiar tree-lined street David realized that, in his peripheral vision, he could see houses past the trees. For years, his field of vision had only included the street and the trees. Brain training was even improving his vision!

Things were different at home, too. Now when his wife, Lorelle, asked him to get something from the store, he remembered! But the changes went even deeper. One night David asked his wife, “Do you think brain training has made a difference?” Her answer surprised him.

“I feel closer to you,” she said. “We have more intimate conversations now. I feel like you really hear me.”

David realized it was true. “After brain training,” he says, “I could follow my wife better during conversations, and remember things we talked about. What a difference that made in our relationship!”

After 12 weeks of brain training, David got a call from a department that had rejected his application seven months earlier. They said they had another job opening and asked if David wanted to reapply. That same week, Lorelle gave birth to a baby girl. It seemed the week for new beginnings.

This time, David passed all the exams and landed his dream job.

David had no idea his career was being hindered by those long-ago concussions. “Brain training changed my quality of life in every area of my life,” he says today. “Now I really can dream again.”

Watch David’s Video

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