t would appear that D.D. Palmer was correct when he said that nerves are involved in all diseases; he just didn’t have the research in his age to prove it. As time goes on and research continues, the information coming out clearly substantiates his hypothesis.
The brain’s ability to change its neural network connections and behavior in response to new information, sensory stimulation, development, damage or dysfunction is called “neuroplasticity.” However, up until the year 2002, healthcare professionals were taught that we are born with all the brain cells we will ever have, they will die off as we get older, and we will never create any new ones. It has now been confirmed that we are born and die with millions of unused and unformed stem-cells in our brains that can be used to make new brain cells as we need them throughout our entire life.
In the Annual Review of Physiology (1998), B. Kalb and I.Q. Whishaw stated: “The brain monitors its environment continuously and responds accordingly. Many stimuli from the environment will prompt the brain to make changes to the way it is working and re-organize its structure. We call this learning; we also call it brain plasticity. It is possible to craft experiences that will make the brain want to grow and repair itself in the process. The brain can spontaneously create new tools for better functioning with minimal but precise promptings.”
We now know that focusing on and practicing new skills or activities causes the brain to change, that is, to grow new cells and new connections between billions of cells. This creates new sensory-motor-learning-thinking-healing maps for each new activity. Moreover, when we think and visualize the practice of the same activities without actually physically performing the activities, we also cause the brain to morph. These changes can be measured on PET and EEG scans.
Skilled Novel Repetitive Motion Exercises Should Be Simple
Pettibon Biomechanics Institute, Inc. has designed an unstable platform named the Neuro-Balance Posture Board. It is patterned after the findings of Vladimir Janda, M.D. He claims a “balance challenge program” causes the brain to re-write and restore the strength to the involved inhibitory muscles. To use the device, the patient is required to stand on one leg for 30 seconds while wearing a head weight and tossing an object back and forth between hands. Then they change legs and repeat the exercise. The process is repeated three times or more for each leg. Novel bilateral repetitive exercises engage the prefrontal cortex and the rear of the frontal lobes, particularly the dorso-lateral frontal lobes. These areas are used for problem solving, planning and sequencing new things to learn and do.
The brain wants to learn, and it wants to make things happen. It thrives on learning new skills, like playing musical instruments, learning a new language, or learning how to ski or golf. In fact, any new and challenging activity gives us pleasure. In the beginning, we have to go slowly, but as we learn, we look forward to faster and more challenging things to learn and do. Learning causes the brain’s limbic system, or pleasure center, to be activated. Learning allows us to feel important and gives us a reason for being; we feel good and we cannot wait for the next challenge. The thought of launching a new career or business and making it thrive are what dreams are made of. Dreaming is natural. Every time a person thinks of their dreams, the limbic system in their brain lights up; they feel good just thinking about the possibilities.
Brain Cells Are Involved in All Illnesses, Disabilities and Accidents
New brain research has shown us that all illnesses, disabilities and accidents also involve brain cells. Each illness, disability or injury is not contained to just the part that is ill, disabled or injured; the nerve cells that supply the malady with nerve energy are also injured and changed. It has now been confirmed that these nerves have to undergo neuroplasticity normalization before the illness, disability or injury can be rehabilitated and restored. Otherwise, the problem can be treated physically and/or chemically, but until the involved brain cells are rehabilitated, the physical problem can never be cured. Because these normalizing rehabilitation processes have to be performed first, we renamed them “prehabilitation.” After being rehabilitated, the nerves then help with the healing of the injured, disabled or ill organ or part as well as the pain associated with it.
The gift that keeps on giving is the body’s ability to restore form and function with precise rehabilitation exercises while experiencing the added benefit of creating new neural pathways. With visualization, this allows for one to change the brain and create the body-mind balance that will make one feel better physically and mentally—anywhere, anytime.
The Power of Enthusiasm and Prehabilitation
Patients are exactly like us: slow to change unless we are educated and shown that “new” ideas are better and improved and yield a greater result. We have to keep that in mind when we decide to change how we approach our clinical practices. When something is explained to one in detail and with pictures and then one is shown how to physically do it, the brain shifts to embrace the “difference.” The discussion of the brain and prehabilitation will require that the entire team have their questions answered first so they can become enthusiastic for their personal results and then share it with patients. There is nothing more powerful on the planet than the power of educated enthusiasm.
Learning allows us to feel important and gives us a reason for being; we feel good and we cannot wait for the next challenge.
There is work involved on all parts when there is a paradigm shift. It is not like telling a five-year-old child that they no longer can fit on their pull toy and it is time to get on a bicycle. It is getting the mind to embrace a new idea, understanding how and why it works and then asking the body to cooperate in making it happen.
Years ago when Dr. Pettibon was experimenting with the first head weight, he had me wear a yellow hard hat with two small five-pound free weights coming off a very impressive rod sticking out in front of the hard hat. Worse yet, he wore one as well as we walked around the island on which we lived. Imagine my paradigm shift—as well as how wonderful we looked—as we walked around the only road on this island. People looked and then looked again and stopped: “What’s that thing on your head?” they asked. Dr. Pettibon never missed a beat and said, “I am rehabbing my spine. Doesn’t everyone wear one of these?”
Long story short, as I walked, my misgivings about looking like a yellow walking head disappeared, and I noticed my posture began to improve as I neared the one-mile mark. There was something to this! I knew the research and had read and edited everything Dr. Pettibon had written, so the “why” was there. Now I was experiencing the ”how,” and it brought it all together for me. Patients need the same thing. They will participate if they understand that the outcome is going to be worth it.
I have always taught my team to know that you know that you know—if you do not, the day will come when a patient will look you in the eye and ask you point blank: “Do you do this?” For this very reason, I advocate that the doctor and staff follow the protocol first and tell the patient that something very exciting is coming that will change lives. Get them excited to see what you are going to disclose. Note the changes for yourself and learn how to share those little gains with patients until the day finally arrives when they are ready to jump on board and participate.
When one does not grow and learn as new information comes in, one stagnates. Stagnation means the same old patients come in and do the same old thing, and pretty soon the result is obvious and they quit care. A clinic that is energized by education and new information will be one that grows with time, and as it grows the results will reinforce the effort to stay current. There is joy in working in healthcare that does not involve pills, surgery, shots or invasive procedures of any kind and yet gives greater, life-changing results. We have all of the tools to make permanent change that is objectively proven; now is the time to get on board and own it for both yourself and your community.Sharon Freese-Pettibon, President of The Pettibon System, Inc., has been in the chiropractic trenches for 39 years. She ran a successful staff training and practice development consulting company for Pettibon practitioners and has set up 12 chiropractic clinics. Her passion is seeing people succeed. For more information, visit www.PettibonSystem.com.Burl R. Pettibon, DC, FABCS, FRCCM, PhD. (Hon) has guided The Pettibon Institute’s direction, continuing education offerings, and research since the Institute's inception as the Pettibon Spinal Bio-Mechanics Institute in 1981. As a teacher, inventor, and researcher, Dr. Pettibon’s influence and contributions to the science of chiropractic are legendary. Dr. Pettibon has been an extension faculty member and lecturer at Palmer College of Chiropractic for more than 35 years. He has also been an extension faculty member at Life University, Logan College of Chiropractic, Parker College of Chiropractic, and Cleveland Chiropractic College—where he received his degree in 1956. Dr. Pettibon has written more than 65 papers and books on chiropractic care and research. Over the course of his career, he has developed 25 clinics. At the present time, the profession is using the more than 50 rehabilitative products that he has invented to make the detection and correction of vertebral displacements both easier and more accurate. He currently holds four patents. Papers and books are also available through www.pettibonsystem.com.