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Articles I have written
Oakland Doctor and Veteran Offers Natural Treatment for PTSD
Dr. Mark Heltemes, DC
Stress disorders and suicides among veterans and service members are at epidemic proportions. To do my part to fight these tragedies, I extend an offer to our community to treat three veterans with post traumatic stress disorder free of charge in my clinic.
I was motivated to offer free treatments when I read an article about the results of a 2010 study that found 22 service members commit suicide every day. Paul Rieckhoff, the founder of Iraq and Afganistan Veterans of America called the epidemic of suicides an “outrage.” He urged national attention to the problem of vets struggling with “invisible wounds,” and said traditional risk assessments are no longer adequate to the problem. We need to add “ways to identify life stressors and concerns earlier,” he said. Current treatment options at SFVAMC are limited to medication and psychotherapy. The meds can have unhealthy side effects and the therapy can take precious time that many vets simply do not have.
As a Chiropractor and Functional Neurologist, I have taken great interest in the brain’s ability to regulate the body. Gray’s Anatomy, the accepted anatomical authority says,-”the nervous system controls all the organs, systems and cells of the body,” making it the driver of healthy function. It is critical that messages from the brain travel down the spinal cord and reach the body’s systems without interference. The cause of interference can be chemical, physical and psychological. Chiropractic adjustment reboots the system, impacting all three causes.
In the healing arts, it has been well understood for years that all diseases are of two general kinds a state of under-activity or a state of over-activity. Medicine’s traditional approach has been to develop drugs that either stimulate or depress the system to attempt a normal balance (homeostasis). If disease is a result of imbalance (that is, over- or under-arousal), then good health is a balanced state.
A person in a balanced state of health would experience strong recovery ability, high energy, few symptoms, resistance to infections, positive mental attitude, present time consciousness, mental alertness and excellent health. He or she would look younger and would remain active and vibrant.
We can measure the state of balance by observing the action of the normal physiological responses of the body, including brain wave activity, heart rate, heart rate variability (the ratio between heart rhythm and respiration rhythm), respiratory rate, hand temperature and skin conductance (skin moisture).
What if the body doesn’t have balance? Then the system cannot adapt to all the activities and stressors of life without consuming more energy. Energy destined for growth and repair now has to go toward keeping everything working the best it can. The system is stressed. It is in one of four states of imbalance: over-arousal, under-arousal, instability and exhaustion. Any of these conditions can be mild, moderate or severe.
Stress is a maladaptive response pattern. In the case of someone with PTSD, the system is over-aroused and chaotic. It reflects conditions associated with hyper-vigilance or panic attacks, loss of quality sleep, and a host of other symptoms. An effective treatment of PTSD ascertains the severity of imbalance by measuring brain waves.
Information is communicated within the brain by electrical/chemical impulse. The impulses can be measured in hertz by an EEG, or electroencephalogram.
The cortex area of our brain stores most of our memories and emotions as well as sensory motor functions. When the patterns of frequency become dysregulated then symptoms and conditions appear. With EEG we can monitor the brain rhythms in the cortex that modulate this system in its response to stress. We can also determine courses of action to change a dysregulated system into a well regulated one.
In my clinic, I employ a treatment protocol that reorganizes brain and nervous system function. It includes spinal adjustments to the nervous system to reset/reboot the system, health awareness (good habits; bad habits), nutritional and physical reconditioning education, biofeedback and neurofeedback.
Through ongoing evaluations, I establish a course of treatment that addresses changing chemical, physical and psychological contributors to neurological stress. Symptoms are an indication of a dysregulated system. By correcting this imbalance, a healthy state can be achieved.
Participants in the free program would visit my office in Oakland (6 blocks from Rockridge BART) between 4pm and 7pm twice a week for the first two months and once a week over the following year. To be eligible for the free course of therapy, vets must have a current PTSD diagnosis and be under concurrent medical care from a local source.
Inquiries can be sent to me at 6245 College Ave. Oakland, CA 94618 or Pridechiro@jps.net. My website is www.Pridechiropractic.com. Please forward this to any service connected individual you feel is in need. Participants will be chosen based on need and the ability to commit to the terms of the program.
Our fellow veteran Paul Rieckhoff is right. To stem the loss of life and talent to suicide and PTSD requires innovation and commitment – one veteran at a time.