Conductor brain training has made living with Parkinson’s disease easier for me.
The most amazing thing I discovered while using what I call “the conductor” is that signals coming into my brain are sometimes distorted. This distortion can take place in the form of signal amplification or suppression. If I react to this distorted brain input as if it were real, there will be consequences that will steal time away from my rehabilitation work.
The second most amazing thing I discovered was that I can use my brain — specifically the conductor — to help manage symptoms.
Before I got Parkinson’s disease, I was an upbeat, positive guy with no signs of depression. Like so many others with Parkinson’s, I have had to deal with input into my brain that feels like sadness. But when I use the conductor, I see from that view that there is nothing behind the sadness. There is no context. That’s the disease speaking.
My brain wants to make context. That’s what the brain does. If the conductor were not in place, I’m almost certain it would do so. Instead, the conductor provides a fresh look at depression. This is a big deal for me. It is this shift in perspective — seeing the input as exaggerated — that has made a big impact.
The conductor helps us with the daunting tasks of learning how to do things all over again, even simple things like walking or eating. The conductor also is useful in helping me cope with more Parkinson’s symptoms than just depression. A well-trained conductor also can help with the following:
- Appropriate exercise and fall prevention using mindful movements
- Managing chronic pain
- Decreasing impulsivity problems
- Improved mouth motor movement
- Getting through bad days and off periods a bit more easily
When I put the conductor in place to help with these symptoms, I find I am replacing old coping skills with new ones. I am fixing the “flat tire,” so to speak, by retraining my brain, which results in a higher quality of life.
Learning how to use the conductor to help alleviate symptoms takes practice — lots of it. Additionally, it’s important that this practice happen by using a well-prepared brain. It is not easy to focus sustained attention on using the conductor while simultaneously engaging in life. I have found that exercise, little-things practice, and CHRONDI wellness mapmaking practices all contribute to preparing my brain for engaging the conductor.
The counting breath exercise, which I explained in last week’s column, is an easy way to be introduced to the conductor. It’s important to follow the instructions as given. Of special importance is the intent held while doing the exercise. The conductor is nonjudgmental, kind, and curious without causing harm.
It also is important to make a mental note of the intrusions that result in losing count of the inbreath. Store this in memory and then go back to the counting breath exercise. You will retrieve this useful information later.
There is also useful information in how many numbers are counted in the outbreath. After you have done the counting breath exercise for a few weeks, you may discover that the amount of numbers counted in the outbreath changes. Noting what affects these changes is important conductor brain training information.
There are times when this exercise and the conductor function poorly. These are when one crosses the emotion-management threshold or enters the darkness, when deep fatigue sets in, when the brain is flooded with unhealthy chemicals (such as alcohol or a poor medication choice), or when there is a brain injury.
My wellness map includes instructions for me about how to avoid these dangers. Now I practice those instructions. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I fail, but I always revise the wellness map accordingly.
This use of the conductor as described here is a mental construct I use to help with the management of Parkinson’s symptoms. It is my way of describing self-care. It’s a case study of one person and needs to be evaluated accordingly.
There are single case studies in the annals of brain science that have made an impact, such as Phineas Gage, who in the mid-1800s survived after an iron bar blasted through the front part of his brain, and patient “H.M.,” who had his hippocampus (a structure in the middle of the brain) snipped in the mid-1900s. Science learned from these survivors of freak accidents and experimental procedures.
Anomalies become helpful to science only when we take the time to examine them.
Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.
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