Flux Health Forum

Treating TBI with PEMF

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) has been featured prominently in the news for the past few years. Public awareness of brain injuries has led to a growing number of people asking us about treatments for TBI, and in particular, mTBI. For those of you unfamiliar with the nomenclature, mTBI stands for “mild” TBI and this is often used synonymously with concussion. Moderate and severe TBI are much worse conditions of brain trauma, and the dividing line between mild and moderate is (usually) how long someone was in a coma post-traumatic injury and/or whether or not anything could be seen on an imaging scan (if nothing shows up with imaging, then it is defined as mild). The second piece of commonly used nomenclature that you need to be informed of is the difference between acute and chronic mTBI. Acute mTBI is what most people are familiar with – this is what usually happens when someone bangs their head and, particularly if they are in some type of sports organization, they are forced to go through a 7 to 21 day recovery period before they can return to play. A significant per cent of people that get acute concussion end up becoming chronic. That is, their symptoms do not resolve (i.e., they don’t get better or they get better at a lot slower trajectory than most) and they actually end up with chronic mTBI. This condition can last months or even years. For example, take a look at some Brain Gauge data representing subjects in a post-concussion study that compared individuals who were fatigued versus not fatigued below (average time post-concussion was 16 months):
image

Note that healthy controls have full length green bars, indicating that they are in the normative range while the post-concussion fatigued group was significantly below normal.

While we do not recommend any particular treatment, nor do we claim to know what the best protocol is for recovery, we have worked with many clinicians and clinical researchers who are either investigating new ways to treat mTBI or have found significant success with a particular method for mTBI treatment.

The bottom line on acute versus chronic mTBI is that recovery from acute concussion typically looks something like the data presented below. Note that the individual’s scores get better from Day 1 to Day 14.
image

The individual with chronic mTBI does not get better for a long period of time (if ever), and some of these individuals will seek help from a clinician. The scores below show the progress of patients that presented with chronic mTBI before and after some form of treatment. The data was obtained from 4 different patients treated by 4 different clinicians, and they all show positive outcomes in their Brain Gauge scores, which parallels the qualitative patient reports that their symptoms were reduced or eliminated.

What is noteworthy about the data from those 4 patients is that even though all were treated differently by 4 different clinicians, there was one common element in those treatments. In each case, the patient had some form of PEMF treatment administered to them. This is what is called anecdotal data – but it was an important enough observation that led us to follow it up with a pilot study to observe the impact of PEMF treatment on TBI. We followed this up with a study that was a bit more controlled. In order to determine if PEMF treatment was effective, patients with chronic TBI were recruited and tested before any treatment was administered. Brain Gauge assessments were made throughout the course of the treatment and some of the results are below.

Note that these were patients with chronic mTBI – their symptoms had persisted for months, and for many cases, years. Based on both their Brain Gauge scores and other outcome measures, all improved with treatment, even though they did not all improve at the same rate. This is not surprising since it is difficult (if not impossible) to identically match all individuals recruited into a study.
If you look carefully at the results, you will notice that some measures appear to improve before other measures. This is because the coil position was changed. For example, note that on the middle column, the indication for Timing Perception lags many of the other measures. Later in the treatment progression, the coil position was shifted from one orientation (coils on left and right side of head) to a rostral-to-caudal orientation (coils on front and back of head). The back of the head coil was positioned over the cerebellum, which plays an important role in timing perception, and after the coil was placed there, the timing perception metric noticeably improved. Thus, treatments in the study were guided by the data from the Brain Gauge, and this led to a much better outcome than if the coils had not been re-positioned.
The full results of the study can be read here.

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That is interesting that the coil position changed which things improved.

I am not doing the Brain Gauge until next weekend. I felt like I had performance anxiety and that taking a break might give me a way to reset things.

I am thinking about my brain and I definitely think that I used to have a TBI and it might have been chronic. Not sure. I do know that I kept falling and hitting my head. From my current day perspective, I wonder if I had a stroke in the balance region or something.

I don’t fall anymore, but back then I did a lot.

I don’t faint anymore either.

I got rid of neuropathy and I have way more control over my eyes.

I got rid of horizontal nail ridges and hallucinations and food cravings.

I am not up all night emailing people wild inventions and Vincent van Gogh theories and I am not listening to invisible comic books. I got rid of suicidal thinking and feelings and got rid of so many things.

I feel like going down my list has helped so many of my symptoms, but I still don’t have a good score on the Brain Gauge.

Mark or Bob,

Thanks so much for… everything. I’ve been an owner of the a9 5pps for almost three years now. I’ve been wearing it at top of head (where I received a head injury at 13) for 2-3 hours a day for about two years. I also have a Brain Gauge.

I’ve gotten a little confused, I’m sorry. But I’m trying my best to apply here. Based on everything I know I’m confident for myself that I fall right into the chronic mTBI category. To others I seem somewhat normal but “unmotivated” (definitely not the case; I try extremely hard and cannot succeed or accomplish much beyond “immediate” goals). I also have major depression (that one is diagnosed).

I want to get better. Badly. Spent almost my whole life looking at paradigms and you guys make more sense than anybody else around.

It appears my weakest Brain Gauge scores are TOJ, Speed, and then Fatigue (probably in that order, but TOJ has traditionally been the weakest).

I think I made a serious error my choosing to focus on applying ICES at what I thought was the original injury site (where I got 5 stitches to the top of my head).

Where could I look for a little guidance/information on a more intelligent way to proceed?

I’m very sorry I didn’t post much, much sooner. I don’t know the professional terms, but the more important something is, the less able I am to approach it. It’s like a physical resistance.

Is the best idea to simply replicate the key study? Is there a coil placement position that particularly favors improvement of TOJ, Speed, and/or Fatigue scores?

I did try simply replicating the study a couple years ago, for perhaps three months or so. I got a pretty terrible “depression attack” one night, which happens regardless, and decided to try focusing on just the original wound site at top of the head, and that’s where I have kept an ICES 2x2 array ever since. I think that, incredibly slowly (probably over a year), I stopped having what I could only call “top of head inflammation attacks.” I attribute that most likely to long term ICES use. (I’m also on a gluten-free diet and some fairly significant supplements, but best reasoned guess continues to be ICES use). But looking back I think I might have made a mistake by straying from the study parameters. I’ve been wondering what you really would think for too long.

Nothing in the above is a request for anything but entertainment or chit-chat only.

Thanks for all your work guys. Means the world to me.

I am very glad to hear that it may be helping you.

Everyone responds somewhat differently, so you will need to try different things to see what is best. The parameters of the study were just our best guess at the time, plus a lot of simplifying that is necessary in order to make a study manageable in size. There is nothing magical about the parameters. You will need to try a few different things and then try to see what works best for you:

1- What gives you the most relief?

2- What improves your brain gauge scores the most?

You could try coils trans-temporal (across the head, in front of the ears), trans-parietal (across the head, behind the ears), coils on the front and back of your head, coils at the back of your neck where the spine meets the skull.

Try reducing the intensity if you have an unpleasant reaction.

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Thanks Dr. Dennis for the detail! I’m in the process now of implementing the above.

One small bit – is there any material that would elucidate how I might utilize ICES to create more of an opportunity to improve a TOJ score in particular? Based on the data I have so far it appears that’s the score that is weakest (along with Fatigue).

I thought I had seen a Grumpy Youtube video at one point that discussed this, but I haven’t succeeded in finding it a second time.

Thanks a billion. :slight_smile:

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I have asked Mark Tommerdahl to respond to this since I do not know a great deal about effects on the brain, or where to treat for specific functions, even theoretically what might work.

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The TOJ score can be impacted by a number of things. Fundamentally, it is a measure that seems to be most predominantly impacted by frontal-parietal pathways. This means that targeting the frontal part of the brain might be most effective for improving that score. However, I should point out that the metric is very sensitive to a number of things and in particular, stress and/or anxiety. From a number of studies we have seen significant improvement on that score after the individual has done something to relax (relaxation techniques, mindfulness meditation, etc.). None of these studies are published, but the data that I have observed is impressive. That all being said, some people improve their score significantly simply by reversing their test strategy (i.e., focus on the stimulus that you felt last rather than first to get the correct answer).

I hope that helps.

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Mark,

I think it will help. Thanks very much for taking a minute to go into some detail about that with me (I know you did not have to).

Take care,
Will

I am happy to have found this thread since one daughter-in-law had a significant traumatic brain injury a few years back. She never got back to normal, and it had severe effects on her husband and four kids. She was always in “flight or fight” mode - resulting in lot of shouting matches and little significant communication. She would have periods of real sweetness alternating with uncontrollable rages in which she acted irrational - like throwing boxes of sorted children’s clothes down the stairs. (It had taken many hours to sort those clothes for storage.)

She has been going to the Swingle Brain Clinic in Vancouver, Canada, for brain therapy costing many thousands of dollars (using up money from the sale of their previous house). Through a brain scan, they determined that one side of her brain wasn’t working at all, and the other side was overloaded and stressed.

Treatment included the White Helmet. From it, her hair is turning white and falling out in the areas of attachment. (Please take a look at this link.) It is supposed to be “detoxing the brain and cleaning the brain. Decreasing the inflammation in the brain for brain injury, concussion, Alzheimer’s etc” This “photobiomodulation” therapy seems to use “near-infrared light” if I’m hearing correctly. The wave lengths of NIR are 760- 1,400 nm or .00000760- .000001400m - IOW really short wave lengths.

By contrast, on Dr. Pawluck’s site I read that PEMF wave lengths that “completely penetrate the body” are ideally very long wave lengths:

A PEMF frequency of 1 Hz has a wavelength of 100 million meters (more than 62,000 miles). At the upper range of what would be produced by a PEMF system, the frequency can be about 10,000 Hz or so (which is still considered “Extremely Low Frequency”). The wavelength there would be 10,000 meters (about 6.2 miles). For comparison, a microwave-range frequency would be about 100,000,000 Hz. This would correspond to a wavelength of about 1 meter (about 3 feet).

The NIR treatment therapy is described as working very much like PEMF therapy. H’mm … Our bodies are wonderfully complex, and so is the treatment, it seems .

Upon clinic recommendation, she is also using these SoundHealth products.

Results according to clinic: The side of her brain that wasn’t working, is showing signs of beginning to work again. (I think she has gone once a month for at least 6 months - about 10 days at a time.)

Results according to husband: "Before the treatment, I could not have an intelligent conversation with X for more than 15 seconds, if that long. Now we can talk rationally for 15 minutes or longer.

Results according to me on the other end of the phone 1000’s of miles away: My DIL sounds calmer on the phone. I haven’t gotten a hysterical phone call for months. I suspect her “sweet side” is much more dominant than it used to be.

Bottom line: Therapy is working but extremely expensive. The only thing she can do at home is the sound therapy.

It seems to me that the M1 system should be very helpful at home - not only for her but for our grand-son who has ADHD. This issue is very close to my heart, and I would love to help in a positive way.

@Mark, @Bob : Thoughts??

Photobiomodulation increases blood flow, oxygen, unbinds nitric oxide, and increases cellular energy. Vielight is very reputable and is one of the few photobiomodulation device companies that funds research studies. ICES PEMF is complementary and in my experience has more permanent effects. I would strongly recommend using both methods. Regarding your grandson with ADHD, I recommend checking out my other posts on gut health and ADHD and how I have remediated ADHD while retaining the ability to have laser focus.

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i believe it’s in this interview there is talk of support for keto and adhd, etc. i can’t find the other vid interview references, but i have heard citations on human studies for keto and adhd as well as other brain issues that keto helps.

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We have done work in this area and have been able to measure concussion/mTBI (mTBI by definition is not an injury that will show up on a brain image), to measure recovery when using ICES-PEMF:

The specific protocol used in the above-referenced study:

KEEP IN MIND, this protocol is not the best, optimal, only, preferred, or otherwise recommended protocol; it is the protocol we selected because it was best suited for the conditions of the controlled study. I have said this elsewhere, but briefly: protocols used in research are not optimized for practical or clinical use, they are selected because they can be done within the limits of the study, the budget, and using standard statistical analysis. TAKE HOME MESSAGE: you do not need to exactly replicate the protocol of a study. You need to apply common sense.

Additional publications on this topic:

https://www.josam.org/josam/article/view/pawluckpaper

https://www.josam.org/josam/article/view/15

We (Tommerdahl, Pawluk, and I) have discussed this at length, and many insights emerged that were not published, most notably that the improvements seen from the use of ICES-PEMF were profoundly good but could erode after discontinuation of the use of ICES-PEMF at the end of the study. My opinion on the matter: as with all other injuries where ICES-PEMF is beneficial, continued use after symptoms have abated for at least several weeks results in better long-term outcomes. Keep in mind, we have not proved this latter insight, it is merely well-informed speculation based on many years of experience. Stronger inference (proof of anything is generally not scientifically possible) would require another study, which at this point is not feasible.

The bottom line, in my opinion, is that mTBI can be quantified and tracked during and after recovery with the BrainGauge (cost ~$500), and ICES-PEMF (cost ~ $500) measurably reduces the functional deficits of mTBI and in many cases returns cortical function back to normal levels, and that the use of PEMF beyond the reduction or elimination of symptoms is advisable to prevent a relapse.

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Thanks much for the response and the recommendations. I kind of knew about the gut health aspect but had forgotten about it.

@inga, one additional idea is to try Seeking Health Optimal Glutathione which is S Acetyl Glutathione and see if that reduces neuro inflammation / ADHD symptoms. We are having great success with that with one in our family. Lowering oxidative stress by ensuring clean air, clean water, clean food, and supporting glutathione typically goes a long way in reducing neuro inflammation in my experience.

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Thank you! Another family member is getting some good results from glutathione in lowering allergy symptoms. Had not thought of it helping ADHD.