Poulsbo doc studies aftershocks of brain injuries

(above) Private neurofeedback practitoner Thomas Budzynski (below) An example of a SPECT brain scan commonly used to characterize brain function. - Courtesy Photos
(above) Private neurofeedback practitoner Thomas Budzynski (below) An example of a SPECT brain scan commonly used to characterize brain function.
— image credit: Courtesy Photos

POULSBO — It’s not all that uncommon. A person suffers a head injury, perhaps during a car collision, and is taken to the hospital for a CAT scan and MRI, and is eventually put in a neck brace.

Their body heals and their life gets back to normal, but often “normal” becomes out of reach. That’s because of a missing step, says neurologist and nuerofeedback practitioner Thomas Budzynski. There’s one thing the hospital trip and subsequent rest didn’t address: the possibility of organic injuries in the brain.

What can follow, if untreated, are a host of symptoms many will live with the rest of their lives, including an inability to focus or remember things, depression, anxiety and hyper-irritability.

“When neurons get damaged, sometimes they’re broken, sometimes they’re stripped of their myelin sheath,” Budzynski said. He added the G-force in an accident can cause damage in the temporal lobes and all through the brain.

“They put your neck in a neck brace but they don’t do anything about your brain,” he said.

But doing something about the brain happens to be just his specialty.

“We can show them what’s happened in their brain in various ways. They can actually correct the condition that’s going on,” he said. “The brain is pretty good at correcting things as long as it gets precise information.”

Budzynski’s practice addresses injuries suffered in car accidents and during war, as well as conditions resulting in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, epilepsy or from a stroke. While many are prescribed medications, such as Ritalin for ADHD, Budzynski said there is another way to improve cognitive function.

Through a series of computerized biofeedback programs, some made to suit adults and others atuned to the needs of kids, he helps his clients identify the difficulties they have and how to repair them.

“It’s just a matter of showing them what’s going on inside their brain,” he said. Clients are connected with sensors to programs that map their brain and identify trouble spots. Based on feedback responses, a person can then learn to adjust those areas. For some, watching a movie which fades to black during abnormal brain activity can be a tool, as the movie returns to regular play when that brain activity is brought back to normal stages.

Budzynski is no rookie to the work, as he helped to develop one of the first biofeedback programs in the 1970s. He first graduated from the University of Detroit with a bachelor’s in electrical engineering, and later served as an aerospace inertial systems engineer on the SR-71 Blackbird project at Area 51. After earning a master’s and doctorate in psychology, he began to apply his engineering know-how to the brain. Combining those fields, he has helped to develop several products and programs in the neurology field, including Twilight Learner and Psychophysiological Stress Profile.

Budzynski is currently co-writing a book on neurofeedback. For more information on his practice, call (206) 852-6511.

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