Brain Dance

No doctor could really give Barbara Copeland an accurate diagnosis of what was wrong with her. In 1961, the Missouri and Arkansas native came to Texas when she was 18 to work as a flight attendant for Central Airlines. She went on to a series of jobs in radio, eventually putting in 14 years at a classical music station. It was there, in the mid-1990s, Copeland started to feel the first signs of Parkinson’s disease—namely the degeneration of her motor skills.

“I remember saying to myself early on that I had a spiritual decision to make as to how I was going to handle this disease,” Copeland recalls. Though she had for 16 years relied on a steady diet of four medications, she was ready for a non-pharmacological approach when she first visited the Irving, Texas, location of Carrick Brain Centers in September for a five-day treatment regimen, and came away mystified by some of its techniques and results.

With innovative techniques meant to reignite damaged brain pathways—and one futuristic chair, which spins a patient around like a NASA training instrument—Carrick Brain Centers is bringing new hope to many of its patients, whose ailments range from Parkinson’s and dementia to concussions. “I’ve always wanted to be an astronaut anyway,” Copeland says of her experience in Carrick’s chair (officially named the Off-Vertical Axis Rotation Device). “The Chair simply reboots your brain-computer, which was exactly what I needed.”

Technically, The Chair’s essential effectiveness is that its speed, direction and angle can be adjusted as it whirls a patient around, stimulating equilibrium mechanisms in the inner ear and the entire visual system connected to it.

As Carrick first begins to treat an injured brain, its underlying philosophy is that the brain is like moldable plastic, and that various Carrick treatment programs can help remold it to perform certain functions as reflexively as before the injury or condition. In doing that, Carrick Brain Centers is often focused on treating the damaged fundamental links between the brain, vision and balance.

Copeland credits Carrick with improved ability to hold her head up straight, as well as progress in her unsteady walking rhythm and gait. “My horizon was completed screwed up,” she explains. “So Carrick had me do these exercises to hold my head up straight…. What I really appreciated was that they got me to get up from a chair by looking at something off in the near distance.

In general, Carrick Brain Centers deal with patients whose injured brains prevent them from performing any number of normal functions and provoke a menu of unpleasant side effects, from vertigo to memory lapses, severe sensitivity to light and noise, headaches, and even emotional or behavioral problems.

“They give you so much encouragement,” Copeland says. “They are genuinely pleased when you make progress.” Much of that positive feedback came during Copeland’s personalized dancing therapy sessions with Carrick doctors.

“We would dance the waltz,” Copeland says. “My doctor is just precious. If he was 40 years older, I would take him home with me.”

The results from Copeland’s Carrick regimen are easily quantifiable. She now sleeps longer and better, and has infinitely more energy.

“I just feel better in my mind,” Copeland says. “Now I wake up in a good humor almost every day. But what I really credit to Carrick is giving me this ‘want to’ and hope—and we always need that.”

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