After my stroke, I was one of the 40% of survivors who had aphasia. That means that I had acquired a speaking disorder. If you have it more than two or three months, you will very likely have it for life. I did my best to get rid of it. I:
practiced speaking in front of the mirror
faithfully did lessons from my speech therapist
joined group that would MAKE me speak
became a Toastmaster
The practice, treatments, and Toastmasters made me speak better. To be honest, it might have been the laser treatments that made most of my progress possible. I still had aphasia though. It was like a dog with a bone, and I was the bone. I just couldn’t get rid of it!
Neurofeedback — What is That?
Dr. Fuller invited me to investigate the IASIS Technologies Micro Current Neurofeedback (MCN) in 2017. Intrigued, I went home and went online. What I read sounded fantastic. Apparently, MCN can help with many of the symptoms related to ADD/ADHD, addiction, anxiety, autism, dementia, depression, stroke, post-traumatic stress disorder, and much more. Most exciting was reading that MCN has been effective in helping mild/moderate traumatic brain injury (TBI) over eighty-five percent of the time, and the results are sustainable. In addition to the website, I read several books and did other online research on neurofeedback, and its predecessor, biofeedback.
There are No Guarantees
Dr. Fuller said we wouldn’t know if MCN would help until I tried it. His patients who’d used MCN had received impressive results to date, and he thought I was a good candidate. Plus, I wouldn’t get worse if I tried it. I was skeptical, but there seemed to be no downsides and a huge upside if it worked.
My First Treatment
It was time for my first treatment. Dr. Fuller rubbed my face and neck with something that felt like a cat’s tongue: wet, sticky, and rough. He explained that the skin needed to be cleaned and exfoliated to provide a smooth contact surface for the EEG leads that would be placed on my head and neck. No lotions. No sunscreen. The “gum” that he put on my skin needed a clear connection for the electrical circuit. He laughed a little as he put bobby pins in my hair to keep it out of the way, and then we got down to business.
Dr. Fuller placed five electrodes around my skull. He launched the IASIS device and we began. I didn’t feel anything, but as we watched the screen, it showed my brainwaves. The application stopped, and Dr. Fuller moved the electrodes to a different area. We started the process again. By the time we finished, I felt good, euphoric even. I know that some people feel fatigued, spacey, wired, or anxious. I mostly felt giddy. After that first session, my aphasia diminished slightly. I eagerly made my next appointment.
Defreagging my Brain
IASIS doesn’t treat disease, but it does help the brain to reorganize and reboot to a more normal brain pattern—kind of like defragging my brain. While it didn’t feel like anything was happening to me, clearly something material occurred in the background.
After finishing sixteen sessions, I dramatically improved in speech. My aphasia is almost gone. I used to struggle to get the right words out, but now what I think about can leave my brain and come out of my mouth. I’m not scrambling for words most of the time. My aphasia makes an appearance now and then, so when I find words jostling in my head, it’s time for an MCN refresher.
So, at least for me, talking “normally” is possible. Maybe it is possible for you, too.