Amazing Brains brings neurofeedback therapy to Frisco
At the intersection of mental health and advanced technology, a Formula One race car circles an empty track on what looks like a video game.
At first glance it might seem like a game, but missing are the hand-held controllers, other race cars and a first-place trophy waiting at the finish line. Rather, “the game” is one of the programs a new Frisco business, Amazing Brains, is employing to help people better control their brain activity.
“The way we see our purpose is to make your life better and easier,” said Micah Shanser, a business partner and neurocounselor at Amazing Brains.
For a trial run he and his wife Bonnie, also a neurocounselor with Amazing Brains, fixed sensors to this reporter’s earlobes and head before turning on the program.
“I’m running you pretty easy right now,” Shanser said as the race car inched forward. With a relaxed mind, it seemed to drive nice and smooth, but as attention turned to other things, the car slowed and veered off course.
“Try to get yourself nice and relaxed,” Shanser continued. “You can see how that little speedometer fluctuates. The first time you do it, you’re thinking, ‘I don’t know how I did that, but it worked and I’m controlling the car.’ Over time, you’re actually learning how to control your neurological state.”
Amazing Brains first opened in Evergreen in 2008 before moving to Avon about three years later. The Shansers have been with the business since 2015, and the company now has two other locations in Steamboat Springs and on the second floor at 101 W. Main St., Frisco, its newest office.
Amazing Brains offers neurofeedback and counseling therapy, a relatively fun, pain-free treatment alternative. The Shansers say the therapy can help with all sorts of issues, including stress, depression, autistic spectrum disorders, ADHD, learning disabilities, traumatic brain injuries, recurring headaches, anxiety and much more.
For example, children who previously took over two hours to finish their homework can get the job done in about 30 minutes or less after treatment. Improved reading skills and focus are other common results, along with reduced family conflicts, faster recovery times from traumatic brain injuries and even better sleep habits.
Another program at Amazing Brains works much like the race car but offers patients a movie instead. When a patient’s brainwaves are where the neurocounselors want them, the movie comes through clearly. If the brain wanders, the movie goes fuzzy until the patient self-corrects his or her brain patterns.
“You’re actually doing all the work,” Shanser said of the two programs, equating them to physical therapy or exercise for the mind.
“It’s a subtle thing, but intuitively you get it on a physical level,” Bonnie added. “Like you can actually sense, ‘This is what’s making (the movie) clear, this is what makes it work,’ so you get an idea of how to bring that into your life.”
At Amazing Brains, therapy begins by mapping the brain. The process involves a cap with 24 sensors and 19 channels — the person wearing it looks a little like Amelia Earhart in the cockpit.
Once a patient’s brain has been mapped, showing its activity across the various regions, a team of neurological experts goes over the results and, based on the patient’s goals, crafts a custom-made therapy plan for that person.
Oftentimes specific regions of the brain are targeted for improvement. Amazing Brains also offers help with life skills and offers counseling, in addition to diet, exercise and sleeping recommendations.
“It’s the whole package,” Shanser said.
After the intake process, counselors will schedule a number of follow-up visits to focus on retraining the brain. The overall price tag can range in the low- to mid-thousands by the time it’s all said and done, but Shanser said they see about a 90 percent success rate and the results can be nothing short of life-changing.
Unfortunately, he said, the work they do isn’t covered by most insurance plans.
The process is entirely painless, without any shots or shocks, and not invasive at all. Even better, adverse side effects are extremely rare.
The applications are also wide-ranging, as Amazing Brains has worked with all different kinds of people, including athletes who want to get into the zone, people suffering from severe anxiety or other issues and students who need help with homework or might be having behavioral issues at school. Even people who’ve suffered serious concussions can see dramatic improvement by retooling their brain activity, according to Shanser.
“For as much as we still have to learn, we know a lot about the brain and we can do some really cool things,” he said.
Shanser was careful to say they’re not actually curing any ailments or disorders at Amazing Brains.
Instead, they’re teaching people how to train their brains, in addition to understanding and recognizing how their brain activity affects their daily lives.
“We’re seeing people regain their lives,” he said.
This article originally ran Oct. 16, 2018. It is featured in the 2019 Explore Summit spring magazine.
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