August 18, 2018
[03:11] The Swiss Retreat
[05:41] How Ben Met Today’s Guests
[09:47] Ben Velaquez's Story
[12:55] Dr. Steven Geanopulos
[14:36] Dr. Geanopulos' Concussion Model
[18:28] Who Has Concussions and Who Doesn't
[20:59] How Dr. Geanopulos met Ben
[24:09] How Ben Treats Athletes with Signs and Symptoms of TBI, Etc.
[27:12] Quick Commercial Break/Organifi
[31:15] What People Need to Look Out for With Regard to Their Brain
[35:01] The Eye Examinations They Utilize
[40:45] The 42-Page Paper Dr. Geanopulos and Ben Base Their Treatments On
[47:56] Concussions as An Immune System Issue
[50:12] Practical Ways to Deal With TBI
[57:06] ELDOA for Concussions
[1:00:55] Rehabilitating the Eye
[1:07:49] How Steve Assesses Patients
[1:10:11] An Easy Way to Asses if You Have TBI Symptoms
[1:12:40] More Biohacks Ben Velasquez Thinks People Should Know About
[1:19:43] End of Podcast
Ben: Hey. I recorded today's podcast a few months ago when I was in New York City. And I've been trying to get out, and I finally have a chance to get out. I visited these cats who run this amazing gym over there and they specialize in enhancing your visual perception and your reaction speed, they train your body in some really unique ways, specifically your neuromuscular system. If you like to really geek out on advanced training concepts, you're going to really dig these cats, but put your thinking cap on.
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Hey, folks. It's Ben Greenfield, and I guess it was like four or maybe five months ago, I was at a party in Park City, Utah and there were a whole bunch of chiropractic docs at this party because I believe I was at chiropractic physician event. And so, I was leaning against the bar, mixing myself, as I am prone to do, a little wine, kombucha, sea salt, lemon, superfood spritzer, and trust me, I'm a hoot at parties when you give me a white wine kombucha spritzer. And this doctor came up to me and he introduced himself, and his name was Steve, and I guess his little Spidey senses sensed that I was a fellow physiology geek and so he began to fill me in on this actually quite fascinating paper. I read the paper later on, it's kind of a mouthful, but it's called “The Potential Impact of Various Physiological Mechanisms on Outcomes in TBI, MTBI, Concussion, and PPCS”. I know it's a mouthful, but he went on to explain this paper, which we're going to dive into in today's podcast along with plenty of other head-fixing and neural-enhancing topics. This paper, however, forms the basis of the care that he provides for his patients. Not only his concussion patients, but anyone who struggles with things like movement, or sight, or focus, or attention, or other kind of brain-based issues.
And he told me that he has this colleague back in New York, a guy named Ben Velasquez. And Ben is not only extremely well-trained in ELDOA, which is a form of fascial training I've done a podcast on before that I find personally fascinating and incorporate it in my own training quite a bit, but he and Ben kind of use what they call a neurochemical, neuroimmunological, neuromechanical approach to fix people's bodies and fix people's brains. So, last time I was in New York City, I went and saw these guys. They have some amazing equipment, an amazing facility. I didn't understand half the stuff they were showing on the computer, like they had it hooked up to my eyesight and tracking the number of times that my eyes move from left to right each minute, like a lot of really interesting stuff we haven't delved into before on this podcast. Now I have done a podcast on the Concussion Repair Manual with Dr. Dan Engle, I have done a podcast on ELDOA stretching before, but I really haven't delved into some of the stuff that these guys are experts in. So, as we jump in with both Steve and Ben, please know all the show notes, you can find over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/fixyourhead. That's bengreenfieldfitness.com/fixyourhead. Made it up myself. So, Steve, Ben, welcome to the show guys.
Steve: Hey, it's great to be here, Ben! I'm glad to finally be on.
Ben V.: Hey, Ben! Great to be here! Thanks for having us on.
Ben: Yeah, absolutely. And for those of you who have trouble keeping them straight, Ben Velasquez is the guy who actually has the mild last Velasquez-esque accent. Right, Ben?
Ben V.: Yeah. The New York-centrific accent…
Ben: The New York-centric accent. You're just a little bit more NewYorky. Is that where you're born and raised, in New York?
Ben V.: Yeah. I'm born and raised in the Bronx. Went to school in Florida, but I pretty much haven't left the nest for too long.
Ben: Yeah. And you've actually, not to neglect you for a moment here, Steve, but Ben, you've worked with, you're kind of like this guy who flies under the radar. I didn't realize, but not do you have a line of certifications a mile-long, from a certified strength conditioning specialist, and a somatherapist, and an ACSM specialist, an ISSA sports nutritionist, but you've worked with a lot of pro athletes, NHL, MLB, NCAA, NFL. What's your story, man? Like what's your actual job title with what you're doing now?
Ben V.: Well, that's a good one. ‘Cause my wife asked me that a couple of months ago and how I would describe my job title is, and I'm still trying to figure it out, but when people ask, I just say that I'm in sports medicine or sports science. But my undergraduate degree is in aeronautical science which minus the drafting courses, is aeronautical engineering, and I didn't really like the feel too much. So, I played baseball at a high level and I always enjoyed the gym. So, I got involved in corporate fitness post-undergraduate and worked there for a few years, and then got involved in pro sports on a pretty much standard strength and conditioning level, and I quickly realized that there was no such thing as a healthy athlete. So, about 12 years ago is when I was lucky enough to meet Dr. Guy Voyer, who was the developer of ELDOA, the founder and developer…
Ben: Hey, I live in Washington State. I don't call him Guy Voyer, I call him Guy Voyer. Just so you know.
Ben V.: I heard you say, “I'm a hoot at a party,” which I was like, “Who uses the word hoot?” But, alright, I got you. Yeah. So, I met Dr. Voyer and I started embarking on what I call performance rehabilitation. So, I kind of use my engineering background to reverse engineer and put together different performance rehabilitative model for athletes at all levels. And what I mean by that is kind of the standard PT model in North America is geared, for everyone, it's the same, and these guys are not field-ready at the time that they get released from physical therapy. So I kind of bridged that gap between what I call standard PT care and being game-ready or field-ready.
Ben: So, when you say standard PT care versus being game-ready or field-ready, you're saying there's a bunch of holes currently in the approach that most people have to physical therapy?
Ben V.: Yeah. In this country, there is. I find like other countries are a bit more progressive, Australia, or certain countries in the Caribbean like Cuba that I've visited, and obviously Eastern Europe was pretty progressive in terms of Research and Therapy for their athletes. Our model tends to be a.) reactive, the athlete gets hurt before they get therapy and not proactive, and b.) it's really geared towards static standard mobility and no inflammation, the usual ultrasound, and stim, and ice. But as far is-Ben-Greenfield-ready-to-run-in-a-race-post-injury, well, there's a huge gap that exists and we kind of fill that gap here in New York.
Ben: Okay. I want to get into some of what you're doing over there in New York to fill that gap, 'cause I've found some of your methods fascinating. So, we'll come back to that. But in the meantime, Steve, you're a chiropractic doc over there, right?
Steve: Yeah. I have a unique distinction in my profession. Right after I graduated, I was accepted into a post-graduate neurology program through the Carrick Institute back in '96, '97. It was a three-year post-graduate program that I'm actually very proud of because there's probably fewer than 700 of us worldwide and it's what we call functional neurology where we, and again in the world of concussion, you know that over the last 20 years, a neurologist would kind of do the MRI, make sure there was nothing structurally wrong, and then go ahead and medicate the symptoms, and the diagnosis would pretty much be a symptom. Whereas in the functional neurology world, we try to find the subtleties of function and try to improve that, and chiropractic is the basis for that. Our chiropractic education is the basis for improving that function.
Ben: Okay. Got it. And you're doing a lot of really funky neurology stuff that I want to hear about. But the very first thing, like the way that we met was what this idea, Steve, of head injuries and concussions. And I think what you told me at the party was that basically TBI, traumatic brain injury, and concussions are not really what we think that they are. And you have like this whole different model of concussions and even say the concussions today are different than they were 30 years ago. Can you kind of go into your model of concussions and why it is that you think concussions are way different than most people actually think that they are?
Steve: Yeah. Because when we think of concussion, we think about a head injury. And of course, that's how it's initiated. However, 85% of the time especially in the world of sports, youth sports, et cetera, they're going to have a full recovery in a reasonable amount of time. But there's that 15% that has persistent symptoms, what they call persistent post-concussion syndrome, and that no longer is an issue of the actual trauma. It's an issue of the immune system not being resolved, it's the issue of the immune system kind of going on in the acute phase, you're supposed to have a cleanup phase, you're supposed to have a resolving phase, and then you go back to normal. But if for some reason the immune system in the brain does not stop the inflammatory process and it just keeps on going, then you can have a chronic syndrome that can last many months, it can last years, and it can ruin lives, as we've all seen in the popular media and in some movies.
Ben: What do you mean the immune system in the brain?
Steve: So, if we think about the immune system, the brain doesn't have much of an active immune system because it's very protected, right? We have what's called the blood-brain barrier, and that barrier prevents the immune system from your peripheral immune system, from your blood stream, from getting into your brain and wreaking havoc. Your brain is a closed case, it needs to be protected. If you start having inflammatory response is going on in your brain on a regular basis, there's no room for swelling. So, it really can cause a problem. So, we have what are called microglia, and microglia are the macrophages or kind of the white blood cell of the brain. And throughout your life, they don't really get much activity, and then they get presented with a concussion where there's some damage and some cleanup that has to occur, and it's the activity of the microglia, it's their ability to go back to their janitorial function, their original janitorial function, which will determine if that person goes back to normal. So, if you have the injury, you get these microglia kind of all jacked up and doing a lot of work that they're not used to. When the cleanup work is done, they should go back to their janitorial function. If they don't and they stay in this hyper state of cleanup, then they start cleaning up and destroying healthy tissue, and it becomes a chronic inflammatory response. That's an immune system problem. It is no longer a concussive problem.
Ben: Okay. Got it. So, when you're approaching a concussion or a traumatic brain injury, I know that, Ben, you kind of hooked up with Steve and I think you worked with his daughter, I think you've worked with some of the athletes that he works with as far as like somebody that he refers people to after concussion or when they're displaying some of these post-concussive symptoms, these immune system symptoms. So, I want to want to hear more about what you do. But first, Steve, based on concussions or brain issues being an immune system response, does that mean that you don't have to actually get knocked out to display TBI-based symptoms? Like could I have massive amounts of inflammation or even, I think there was research that came out last year that showed that, for example, this whole lymphatic immune system of the brain doesn't work as well when you are, say, sleep deprived because that's where a lot of the drainage occurs, from what I understand from a lymph standpoint is during sleep for the brain. What does this actually mean when we look at concussions this way as far as who has concussion versus who doesn't?
Steve: Well, yeah. I mean what you're describing is the fact that somebody with neural-based Lyme disease can have the same symptoms as somebody with persistent post-concussion syndrome, somebody with some other inflammatory disorder. You could have an impulse injury, an impulse injury is where, if you can imagine you're running full-speed, you catch the football, you turn around, and you get hit in the gut, you come to an abrupt stop, that's more of an impulse injury rather than an impact, but that too can cause the brain to have that kind of concussive stress. So, there are different ways of injuring the brain, but there is a biochemical, you could have a chemical concussion. You can be exposed to toxins, acutely exposed to toxins via mold or some type of metal toxicity that can also result in this central nervous system inflammatory process which is going to look identical to post-concussion syndrome. I had a case just the other day a, 16 year old boy, and his blood work came back dramatically positive for Lyme. A year after a concussion, he had complete resolution of symptoms completely. He was given antibiotics for some dental work and it dramatically reactivated all of his post-concussion symptoms. And then we ran some additional blood work, and he's got full blown chronic Lyme, which he wasn't aware of before, no one was aware of it.
So there's a lot of overlap in the immune system and trying to decipher what was due to the concussion, what was due to the viral or the bacterial infection from what could have been 10 years ago. I mean, it is a rabbit hole. So, I don't want to get too far off on that. But you asked about Ben Velasquez. Let me tell you something about Ben, 'cause he's not going to toot his own horn. Ben and I met at a concussion symposium at Atlanta with the Carrick Institute. This guy, Ben Velasquez will dive so deep into science, he was sitting there with some of the heaviest hitters in our profession, and that's where he and I met. Because of the work he does with professional athletes and he would bring me in on these cases where we needed to address the vestibular system, and his knowledge about, like he was saying about Cuba and what they were doing in Eastern Europe and some of the some of the methods that we just don't do here is pretty remarkable.
Ben: So, how did you actually meet Ben?
Steve: We had a mutual friend, we had a mutual colleague, but we were down at a concussion event at the Carrick Institute, basically looking at the vestibular system, it was a big, long weekend about the vestibular system. We hit it off. He's from the South Bronx, like he said. I'm way on the other side of the world, I'm born and raised in Queens. People who understand New York City know the difference between Queens and the Bronx, but we hit it off right away. We still, even though we come from a world apart, we're kind of like brothers from another mother.
Ben V.: Yes, we are.
Ben: Alright. So Ben, you trained Steve's daughter?
Ben V.: Yeah. Steve's daughter is a very high-level soccer player, a high school soccer player. So, he was interested in introducing some specific strength and conditioning to improve her soccer game. So, she came in and I did an evaluation on her and wrote her a couple of programs. So, hopefully it helped. She's a good player though, so I don't know how much I helped.
Steve: Yeah. No, no, no. But it wasn't only about her performance, it was about protection from injury. We get very much involved especially with my kids, they're aggressive soccer players, I need them, look, concussions are going to happen. Right? Girl's soccer, I think, is in the top four or five sports for the most frequent concussions. You're not going to get rid of football, you're not going to get rid of hockey or lacrosse, but we have to ask the question, is the human animal adapted to receiving a mild traumatic brain injury? And the answer is yes, we absolutely are. We evolved to be able to handle injury and survive. And if we're not resolving, we have to ask why. Now, I'm not saying we need to be getting repeated injuries, but injuries are going to happen, how can we best prepare an immune system, best prepare someone's physiology to prevent injury. And then what Ben does with ELDOA, it's such an awareness technique for the nervous system that I feel very confident, when my daughter goes up in the air, she knows exactly where her body is in space, and she's more than likely going to come down and land it in appropriate fashion as opposed to maybe falling and having some type of an injury. So, it's really more about the probability of a future injury and reducing that.
Ben: Okay. So walk me through, and you could use Steve's daughter as an example, Ben, or however you want to do it, walk me through what you do when you get an athlete in your facility that is either displaying signs and symptoms of a TBI or some of these immune system inflammatory issues that Steve has alluded to as being responsible for concussion-like symptoms and what you would actually do with that athlete.
Ben V.: Yeah. So the first thing that that the audience has to understand is I lead every lecture with a slide that says, “Sport is sport. Sport is not health. And the TBIs and concussions aren't going to go away.” With that said, why are there more concussions today, especially in youth athletics. When you throw aside the media attention that it's had in the last five years, in my opinion, it boils down to, number one, youth sports kids are specializing in sport too early nowadays. Most of the research that's been done has been done in Eastern Europe, and it points to the fact you need to play multiple sports and need to participate in multiple types of play before puberty, and then you can figure out what you're more qualified or talented to participate in one sport. That's number one.
Number two is that I feel like every concussion is a biochemical concussion, a mechanical concussion, and a neurological concussion. So, to answer your question, Ben, when an athlete comes in, we do an extensive evaluation on them, or what I call a “needs analysis”. And basically it's like detective work, that's all it is. I mean, yes, we do some functional screening, we do some movement work, we see what's going on mechanically, but it's basically like detective work. And I'm the type of practitioner that I like to stay in my own lane, so I associate with somebody like Dr. Geanopulos, who's an expert at the biochemistry, and I also have several soft tissue specialists, chiros, osteopaths, massage therapists that I refer to. After we do the evaluation, no matter what type of athlete it is, there's generally a period of what I call structural balance. In my opinion, it's an old sports science adage, “structure dictates function and function dictates structure”. So, if you want to be a better athlete, you have to have the best foundation. If you want to mitigate TBI, then you have to have the best structure in order to be able to dissipate force.
So, I take the athlete, we do the needs analysis, generally there's a structural prep phase that I put them through depending on their history, their age, their training age, their sport, their injuries, that may last one, two, three phases of training or preparation. And then it's basically, my end goal with a contact sport athlete is to be able to prepare them to accept and dissipate force, both ground force and outside exogenous force. And if I can do that with my protocols to the best of my ability, then in my opinion, I provide a good insurance policy for that athlete. It's not going to make it go away, but I improve their chances of lowering that risk factor.
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Ben: Okay. So, talk brass tacks to me a little bit. That's kind of like bird's eye. But what kind of evaluations is somebody doing? And the reason I ask this is, I mean, people listening in, they're going to want to know for example, if they are like a personal trainer, or a physician, or somebody's who's working with somebody, what kind of things they should be taking into consideration. Or maybe somebody's listening in, what kind of things they should be doing to see if their brain is actually working the right way before they launch into movement.
Ben V.: Yeah. So, some of the testing we do is there is some neurological testing I use some digital platforms. I do Romberg tests, I do a Fukuda test, which are more vestibular…
Ben: I'm not sure people are going to know exactly what those are. So, free to fill us in.
Ben V.: Yeah. Dr. G, you want to take a stab at that since you're the neurologist? You probably can put it in layman's terms a little better than I can.
Steve: Of course. Whenever we examine somebody, we're looking for any kind of vestibular or cerebellar dysfunction. So, basically what that means is the part of your body that tells you where you are in space, the part of your brain or nervous system that tells you where you are in space. We're going to look at the function there pretty closely. Just a screening test would be a step test called a Fukuda Step Test where if the person has their arms outstretched, and their eyes closed, and they're doing 300 steps, they should be able to march in place. If they're veering off in one direction, marching forward left or right, that can be an indication of just poor communication between the body and the central nervous system. But we also use technology, because the eye can't see, the doctor's eye can't see what a computer can see. So, we use infrared cameras on the eyes to look at very subtle vestibular dysfunction. We call it VNG, or videonystagmography, and it looks at how the eyes, 'cause your eyes are very much under the control of the vestibular system. We're not talking about vision, we're talking about eye movements, and you can imagine how important eye movements are to an athlete. Any deviation from what they would consider to be normal, and what the average person considers normal, and what an athlete considers normal are two different things, they would never notice a deficit, but we can pick that up with our technology.
But just going back to what Ben does and what he had done with my daughter, the perfect example is when we exercise, we think about energy expenditure. There's what Ben calls dumb exercises and smart exercises, and we don't mean dumb because you're dumb if you do them. A dumb exercise would be, for example, an elliptical machine where it doesn't take a whole lot of neurological integrity to get on an elliptical machine, but you can burn a lot of calories and use your musculoskeletal system. Whereas doing a clean and jerk or doing some Olympic lifts is much more neurologically taxing, meaning energy systems of the nervous system are going to be taxed. And in concussion, especially post-concussion syndrome, energy systems are very important in the brain. So, if you're going to do an assessment like he taught my daughter how to do. At 12 years old, Zoe was doing, he taught her perfect technique for the clean and jerk and one of the other Olympic lifts…
Ben V.: Snatch.
Steven: And the snatch, and her ability to do that is very dependent on a highly-functioning nervous system, something that if she were to have an injury, feel fine, but not be able to accept ground force, dissipate force, and move that weight appropriately in the air the way she should, that would be an indication that her nervous system is not quite ready to get back on the field.
Ben: Interesting. So, when you're talking about these eye evaluations, is that the giant pair of goggles that you had me wear when I was back there in New York City?
Ben: Okay. So, what are those doing exactly?
Steven: So, those cameras are going to pick up, so, we have we have you watch, and typically we have a much larger screen. You were using our travel kit when you were there and we didn't have a whole lot of time to do a full assessment, but we basically have you track a stimulus on the wall. As your eyes move randomly from stimulus to stimulus, we're measuring your eye movement and we're looking at the delay or the latency, how long does it take for you to move your eyes to the target at the speed at which your eyes move and the accuracy. So, the camera's picking all of that up, and subtle changes in the vestibular system, we can pick up with that technology. It's pretty fascinating stuff. It's typically used by neurologists and ENTs for people who have vertigo, but it's become really, really helpful in looking at subtle changes in vestibular function after a concussion. You see, every concussion is a vestibular concussion. You cannot have a head injury without affecting the vestibular system to some degree.
So, the most accurate assessment of the vestibular system is the best way to go and to have a pre-injury assessment, to get a team evaluate it. And we can do an assessment on a team, we can do three or four kids an hour and get a whole team of evaluated before the season. So, that way when somebody gets banged up, they might say, “Hey. Doc, I feel fine.” But we know that for a year after a concussion, you're four times more likely to suffer a labral tear in your shoulder, an ACL injury in your knee. Orthopedic injuries skyrocket after a concussion and that's because the vestibular system is not fully aware of where you are in space. There's a mismatch between what you could say reality and perceived reality, and we use that technology to make sure that your perceived reality is as close to your normal as possible. If we don't have the pre-test, it's still a valuable tool, but it's much more valuable if we have the pre-exam.
Ben: So, when you're saying the vestibular system, you aren't referring to the ears, you're referring to the eyes.
Steve: Yeah. We're referring to the inner ears. So, the inner ears are the semicircular canals filled with fluid that tell you about acceleration and rotation in space, and that communicates directly with your eyes. That's exactly what we're measuring. And we had a case, a concussion case just last week, we put him in a booth. See, we have this chair in our office that's pretty incredible where we can move the chair off center and look at not just the semicircular canals, but we can look at something called an utricle and the saccule, and this looks at translational movement. So, this guy did fine on all of his semicircular canal examinations with other doctors. We put him in our booth, moved the chair off center, rotated it, and he had complete absence of function on one side. So one side worked, the other side didn't work at all. And that was not picked up by anybody else, and this is a professional snowboarder, a nationally-ranked snowboarder, champion snowboarder who had suffered a pretty severe injury, and everybody was telling him he was fine. Meantime, he can't drive a car, he can't think, he can't function. And without that booth, without that technology in our office, we would have never been able to pick up this type of dysfunction.
Ben: So, people have to go to the office to get this done? You can't do this on a phone app or something like that, like test your vestibular or your visual function?
Steve: Ninety plus percent of the injuries that we'll see do not require the advanced technology we're using. These are fun toys for us. But the truth is there is technology coming out now that is much less expensive that can look at what we call “pursuits of the eyes”, saccades, which are kind of like the way we read, and optokinetic function. Those are the most common things that we look at as well as the VOR, or the vestibule ocular reflects. Those things can be measured with much less expensive technology, but the person who's doing the assessment has to be trained. They have to understand the connection.
Ben: Okay. Got it. So, when it comes to giant 42-page paper that you sent me that you said that kind of like your entire concussion treatment and restoration of physical activity that you and Ben kind of base a lot of your therapies around, what are some of the big takeaways from this? For people who don't want to read 42 pages, I mean, I'll link to this in the show notes if you go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/fixyourhead. But there's some really compelling graphics in here, I noted, that go into everything from decreased coenzyme Q10 if someone has been utilizing statins, for example, as being something that could influence neuronal health or this microglial activation that you talked about, systemic inflammation, excess calorie intake. What are some of the biggies when it comes to the takeaways from this paper that you think more people need to know about, specifically when it comes to head injuries or neurological function?
Steve: I love listening to your show, and one of the things you talk about quite a bit in your show is our ancestral genetic background. And if you think about what happened to our ancestors if they suffered a TBI while trying to hunt down a woolly mammoth or something like that, if they survive, one thing we can say about 14,000 year ago is that the environments people lived in was pretty extreme. And extreme environments result in two situations, you're going to have extreme health and fitness or you're going to have death. You're not really going to be post-concussive fatigued and laying around late lazy for a couple of years. You're going to die. So, extreme health and fitness, that has to be restored. If someone's going to survive a traumatic brain injury back then, they probably crawled into a cave in and waited it out. But for the most part, their fuel, they weren't… no one was handing them a bowl of ice cream. We know after an injury that glucose delivery drops. It can drop by 50% post-injury. And yet the sodium potassium pumps in all of the cells related to the injury skyrocket, their needs for energy skyrocket. So, there's this dramatic increase in energy need, yet a dramatic decrease in energy delivery. So, that's kind of a paradox.
And it makes sense to reduce glucose, because if the sodium potassium pumps are using glucose to fire on all cylinders, it's going to be a lot of oxidation and more damage going on. From an evolutionary standpoint, God probably just wanted to create a situation where, “Let's keep glucose out of this for now.” And that's where we, you guys talk about metabolic flexibility. That's important because the glucose that's there are needed by the astrocytes which make up the blood-brain barrier, they are glycolitic cells, and they should use that, they make lactate, that gets delivered to the neurons along with ketones from being metabolically flexible, and now you have a much safer environment in the brain. But if you're taking a 15 year old kid who just got banged up and he comes home from the hospital, everything is structurally okay, and you're feeding him ice cream, that could be a problem.
Ben: Now is it true though that glucose is kind of like the obligate fuel source in the mammalian brain. I mean, I know it can use lactate, it can use ketones. But from what I understand, the brain is responsible for like 50% of the total glucose utilization by the entire body. And so, I know this goes around the ketosis circles a lot, how you need to be in ketosis to do something like shut down inflammation, or improve focus, or decrease symptoms of a concussion or a TBI, but how does that actually go hand-in-hand with the fact that the brain is such a glucose hog?
Steve: Yeah. I mean, it definitely is a glucose hog, but there's never been a time in human history where we've had such abundance of excessive glucose available to us. So, what are our genetic needs? It's very hard to say. But we do know from a signaling perspective that beta hydroxybutyrate is going to basically polarize the glia…
Ben: The ketone beta hydroxybutyrate?
Steve: Yeah. The ketone beta hydroxybutyrate is going to basically polarize the glia to an M2 phase which is anti-inflammatory, it's going to reduce TNF alpha, it's going to increase interleukin 10. If we're talking about the glia being the actual problem in chronic post-concussion syndrome, well then, you've got to talk about what is going to drive the glia to that M2 polarized state, and there's no shortage of pharmaceutical companies doing this research for us. That's where I'm getting the research from. They're looking to create medications that are going to be effective in this space. And me, as a chiropractor who cares about natural health and doing things in a natural way, I'm going to use the research in a way that's going to probably push them towards ketosis for injury, to resolve injury because of that M2-type of polarization that has to occur to resolve acute pathology.
Ben: So, you're actually trying to, despite glucose being one of the primary fuels for the brain, almost decrease activity of microglial cells by decreasing available fuel to them?
Steve: By changing the fuel. Because the neuron, if the neurons are competing with the astrocytes for glucose, and remember, the sodium potassium pumps are using 85% of the energy in a normal state. Now if you have an injury, you dramatically ramp that up, it's much more efficient to use ketone body. For a unit of fat, you're going to make 146 ATP compared to 38 ATP from glucose, and you can get a lot more pollution coming out of the mitochondria as far as reactive oxygen species with glucose than you would with a ketone body. So, reactive oxygen species is a really big deal and you want to mitigate that as much as possible. There's no better state to be in than in a state of ketosis post-injury. Now, if you're training for football, you probably need to be pretty glucose efficient as well. But if the athlete is metabolically flexible enough, then they can pretty much get into a state of ketosis on demand to deal with an injury that occurs.
Ben: Okay. And I'm cool with either you guys answering this question, but I mean it seems to me that, for example, saying something like “eat less sugar if you have a head injury” is not that groundbreaking. It seems to me a lot of people in, especially in like health circles, are talking about. Like perhaps ketosis could assist with neural stabilization for everything from Alzheimer's, to dementia, to TBIs. What are the parts of this paper that are so groundbreaking in terms of your approach? What's actually different here when you look at concussion as an immune system issue? ‘Cause I mean for me, and I would imagine, the average person might think this, “Well, if concussion's an immune system issue, does that mean you just take a bunch of oil of oregano and probiotics to strengthen the immune system and detox by sweating things out in a sauna?” When we look at the practical takeaways, like what we can actually do with some of this information, what's the difference between treating concussions as an immune system issue versus just like “I hit my head”?
Steve: So, you can definitely give the person copious amounts of antioxidants. It's kind of like putting a catalytic converter on a '69 Chevelle. If it's a filthy engine that gets eight miles per gallon and you put a catalytic converter on there, you'll decrease some of that pollution. But you'd rather the car run like a Prius for awhile, right? It'd be much less reactive oxygen species coming out, a lot less pollution. In order to accomplish that, you need to be able to go from being a powerful muscle car to being a Prius on demand. So, you want the person to be metabolically flexible. We started this, when we wrote this paper, and by the way, I didn't write the paper. There were 10 of us who wrote it. And my colleagues, I mean, they're unbelievable and brilliant, and we've been working together on this stuff for a long time. But back when we wrote this, we were just fasting, we were getting the best results fasting people. We would take people and just go through a fasting protocol and their symptoms would dramatically improve. So, we needed to expand on that. We didn't want to just stuff a whole bunch of n-acetylcysteine and CoQ10 into the system. That stuff works beautifully if you can also get at it from the other side, if you can also address the metabolic health of the person. I hope I answered that question. I'm sorry if I rambled…
Ben: Alright. Got it. So in terms, again, of the practical things that folks can be doing, in terms of a TBI concussion, what I really want to give folks is kind of like an overarching view of once they go to my website and they read this paper or they check out some of your articles on how concussions, how we should be looking at them differently, I want to give people some really good steps of action they can take. If they don't necessarily want to like, whatever, fly to New York City, and put on your strobe goggles, and meet with Ben, per se, 'cause not everybody's going to be able to do that, what are the things that you guys are doing that you think would be practically applicable for the practitioners listening in or the folks listening in when it comes to TBI?
Ben V.: I think, Ben, one of the things for the audience to understand is that if it's a sub-concussive trauma or a serious event, the fact that the athlete or the person is asymptomatic is not an indicator that they're kind of out of harm's way. The biochemistry is a way to keep in check the fact that you may have no symptoms. So, your audience really should get the blood work done and look at inflammatory markers.
Ben: Blood work?
Ben V.: Exactly.
Ben: Now when you say the bloodwork done, what kind of blood work?
Ben V.: They should get at a minimum, they should get a panel to look at inflammatory markers. Am I correct, Dr. G? That's what you should be looking at.
Steve: Yeah. I mean, we'll do a comprehensive wellness panel, we'll look at high sensitivity, C-reactive protein, we'll look at a lot of the blood sugar issues, we'll look at how homocysteine, but we'll also look at, I mean something as simple as a CBC. A CBC gives you so much information about the red blood cell's ability to deliver oxygen. You don't have to have frank anemia to be compromising your oxygen delivery.
Ben: So, a CBC would be white blood cells, red blood cells, your hemoglobin?
Steve: How many red blood cells are there, what size are the red blood cells, how much hemoglobin is there, what is the hematocrit. That's valuable information because if somebody is even mildly anemic post-concussion, remember their energy needs skyrocket. Without oxygen, you're going to have some energy shortage. And if the brain is 2% of your body weight and it's using 30% of your oxygen, well then, anything that compromises oxygen delivery, we need to know about in order to resolve that. By the way, post-concussion, there's enough evidence out there to show that it causes a direct effect on gut function. You actually, if it's severe enough of a concussion, you actually have GI bleeds, and this is very important because now they may be compromised with some type of leaky gut phenomenon in preventing a lot of their micronutrient absorption, which can result in a sub-clinical anemia.
Ben: Okay. So, a CBC and an inflammatory marker test for blood work, that's something that you guys would do?
Steve: Yeah. For sure.
Ben: Okay. Alright. And then what else?
Ben V.: The second takeaway is that it if the athlete has had an injury or a history of injuries, they make themselves as devoluted to as much as four times more susceptible to a concussion. It goes the other way around. In other words, if you've had a concussion, you're two to four more times likely to get or to be at risk for lower body injury or a labral tear on the shoulder. And it goes the other way around too. If you've had an ACL that hasn't been repaired properly, or you had a shoulder problem that hasn't been repaired properly, or a history of the injuries, you're more susceptible as well. And that's really important for the audience to understand because they don't make the connection. And even in pro sports at a high level, the concussions are thought to be from the neck up and they're not.
Steve: Ben, also just for the audience on a kind of like a what-to-do type of thing. First of all, you want to be assessed pre-injury. There is an app called SWAY. SWAY is a handheld, you use it on your phone, and there are several different types of these apps where you can kind of go through a whole process of looking at your vestibular system with technology, and I did this with my kids when they were younger. I find that testing the vestibular system on kids, for girls, they do okay around nine or 10 years old, boys, 10 or 11 years old, a little older, to get some accurate results. So, SWAY, S-W-A-Y, I guess there's a dot com for that.
Ben: I'll find it and put in the show notes. So, SWAY is like an app that people can use to actually monitor…
Steve: Digital posturography, which is important and is used in the literature quite a bit for concussion assessment. So, having a pre-injury or a pre-season assessment's a good idea. Getting your kids used to the idea of saying, “Alright, let's get on a more paleo-type of diet for a period of time. Let's take in some turmeric, some n-acetylcysteine, some CoQ10. I don't like to give children supplements very much. They don't really like swallowing things. But the fact is the more antioxidant activity you can get in the brain, the better. So, those are all protective things that…
Ben: Really? That's not true for the rest of the body though. Like too much antioxidant activity can kind of quell endogenous production or blunt the hormetic response. Do you really just shove 'em down like willy-nilly or…?
Steve: No. After injury.
Ben: After injury. Okay.
Steve: I'm going to do what I can. I definitely believe that quelling the immune response after a workout or a training session's a bad idea, but now you have an injury the person is going to be out of commission for a couple of weeks. He might as well make their diet micronutrient-rich and give 'em some of those brain-based antioxidants and support the glutathione system. Matter of fact, one of the best reasons to increase ketones in the bloodstream is, during an injury, you want to shovel glucose into the pentose phosphate pathway, which makes glutathione. And if your astrocytes are sucking up glucose and your neurons are sucking up glucose, there's going to be a deficit of that. And I don't think just taking IV or oral glutathione, which is common practice, is the best way around that. I think preserving that glucose for that pathway to make glutathione is much better served. The only way to do that is if the neurons are not sucking up all that glucose.
Ben: Okay. Got it. What were you going to say Ben?
Ben V.: I was going to say that one of the best ways I think that the audience can help to mitigate the risk factor is to learn ELDOA from a mechanical standpoint.
Ben: To learn ELDOA?
Ben V.: Yeah. You had a whole show on it and he did a very good job.
Ben: I had a whole show on it, but I don't think we talked much of why it would be so useful for concussions. Why do you like it for that?
Ben V.: I like it for that because of several reasons. Number one is because, again, a concussion or mitigating the risk factor is not a neck-up issue. It's a whole body issue. So, the first thing you got to do fundamentally, the audience has to accept the fact that everything is enlinked globally from the top of the head to your big toe, and that when you affect one part of the body, you affect your ability for the athlete to dissipate and accept force, which is what you're doing in sport. You're accepting ground force and your accepting outside forces if you're in a contact sport. So, your ability to do that is dictated by how well you are able to accept force, and the biggest factor for me as a strength coach and a therapist is the postural system, is your ability for your brain and your fascia to integrate neurologically and to be able to, through the tensegrity principles to be able to accept force and dissipate it through the body, and I think ELDOA is the best and most efficient tool to be able to improve that whole neuromechanical integration that's necessary.
Ben: Okay. Got it. So with ELDOA and something like concussion or TBI, are there specific things that stretch the fascia in the head or do you just do full-body type of ELDOA stretches? ‘Cause there's like dozens and dozens of different moves.
Ben V.: Oh, yeah. No, that's a good question. There are specific cranial ELDOA that you can do, but for the general population or for your audience just learning some basic ELDOA for the thoracic spine, the cervical spine, the lumbar spine, just learning two or three postures and doing them well is going to provide a tremendous insurance policy. I honestly, I tell everybody, after all these years, I have a tool kit and the most efficient tool in my tool box is ELDOA because I can use it as a diagnostic tool, I can use it as a tool to train the postural system as a reinforcement tool, as a proprioceptive tool, as a mobility tool. It's just a fascinating system. And every day I use it, I learn more about it.
Ben: Yeah. After I interviewed that guy, Jake, Jacob Schoen about ELDOA, I still do, any given week, I'll do five different ELDOA moves for specific, he had like three that he said give me the best bang for my buck, and there were a couple more that he gave me for my hip. I can do it man, I can do 'em while I'm waiting for the plane take off, or while in my sauna, or I'm talking to my kids before they go to school and they're eating breakfast or whatever. So, I like the moves. You feel amazing. It's like quartering yourself with, what'd they do in the medieval days? They'd quarter people horses? It's kind of like that, except in a good way.
Ben V.: Yeah. I call it horrible self-traction. It's never easy.
Ben: Yeah. Self-traction.
Ben V.: Self-traction. Exactly. That's what it is. But Ben, I just think as an athlete or as a recreational athlete, your ability to manage your posture and your ability to know, your brain to know where you are in space at all times is the best insurance policy to be able to protect you against TBI. Because if you don't know how, if your brain doesn't know where your body is in space, how fast you're moving, what direction it's going in, then those natural mechanisms that are built in aren't functioning efficiently and you're going to suffer more than the next guy.
Ben: How do you rehabilitate the eye part of things?
Steve: Let me jump in on that because I think I want to tie, we went into how we mitigate risk and deal with symptoms from a biochemical perspective. But what Ben's talking about with ELDOA, I mean the real mechanism here that I found so amazing from my patients is the fact that ELDOA is a very specific way of giving minute information from the spine, from the intrinsic musculature of the spine to the cerebellum, to the part of the brain that tells you where you are in space, something that is absolutely lost after a head injury. And, I've never seen anything better from an active exercise standpoint than ELDOA for telling the brain where it is in space and training it to do so. Part of what my job is as a chiropractor is to make sure that each of those spinal segments are able to move passively and actively the way they're designed to move, but ELDOA actually gets the person to move those joints and position themselves in a way that gives the most abundant and accurate information. You've got to remember, the receptors in the spine, particularly the musculature, the intrinsic muscle of the spine makes up almost 80% of the information from gravity that goes into the cerebellum. That is alone the majority of information from the environment that makes it into the brain.
Gravity is a 24-hour stimulus. So, you want to benefit from that stimulus. We sit at computers all day, we have kids, my children are sitting with their head forward, we have anterior weight bearing, we have this kind of leaning forward culture, and that's causing a mismatch between where the body is in space and where it should be in space or where it's perceived in space. And ELDOA, there's nothing better than ELDOA for correcting that. My son, who's a goalkeeper, he's six feet tall and he's 13 years old, so he grew real fast, this kid had the tightest hamstrings and his coach told me to stretch his hamstrings, and I knew that wasn't the right thing to do. But he had a 30 degree straight leg raise for a 13 year old boy. And Ben put him through some ELDOA, we went from 30 degrees of straight leg raise to 90 degrees in five minutes without any stretching. It had nothing to do with stretching, it had to do with telling his body the appropriate place to be in space so that he's not perceived to be leaning forward, causing his hamstrings to pull him back up. Only ELDOA can do that.
Ben V.: And if you take it one step further, that same athlete with that level of postural tension that Steve's son had is not going to be able to accept forces like an athlete who manages his posture better. And ELDOA's the best tool I've found for that.
Ben: Okay. Got it. So, we've got ELDOA, we've got decreasing the amount of glucose fluctuations that you have during the day and using things like ketosis, we've got, what I was just asking you about before we got back into ELDOA, Steve, this whole eye tracking, eye testing thing and fixing vestibular and visual function. And what I actually wanted to ask you, Steve, was you tested my eyes, you found some things, you could use me as an example if you want, or anybody, but once you've tested the eyes, how do you fix them? How does that actually work? ‘Cause you had me doing all sorts of crazy eye things there.
Steve: Yeah. One of the things that we do is, say, alright, if we're going to look at, let's just say there are two different kinds of eye movements. One is called a smooth pursuit. So, if you can imagine you're watching a car drive past you, you're smoothly pursuing the car from the right side of your world to the left side of your world. And then there is reading, where your eyes jump, and we call that saccades. So, if I'm looking at your smooth pursuit system and it's breaking down, but you still see the stimulus, what happens is your brain will compensate and use the saccadic system to make up for the deficit in the pursuit system. And I can see that on the computer. So, now the person's going to have jerky eye movements, which is what we saw with you. Instead of the smooth pursuit, we had these jerky eye movements, and therefore I would give exercises that are random saccades. I might focus them more on one side than the other, depending on what we see. But for the most part, if there's a deficit in pursuits, we exercise pursuits. If there's a deficit in latency, accuracy, or velocity of saccades, then we exercise saccades.
Ben: When you say you exercise, like everyday, somebody's doing eye exercises? And if so, for how long? What this actually look like, an eye workout.
Steve: We might do two minutes of exercise five times a day, depending on the person's fatigueability because now, we talk before about smart and dumb exercises, well, moving the eyes, when I have an athlete, a professional athlete who can do amazing things in the gym, I put him on the VNG and I just run him through some of these pursuits, saccades, optokinetic eye exercises, or eye reflexes, and you take the goggles off, they're exhausted. Like they want to take a nap. They are completely neurologically spent. It tells us that the vestibular system's ability to produce energy's compromised and we have to teach them how to identify that so they do not exceed their metabolic rate while they're exercising. So, we teach them about eyestrain and understanding when they have a breakdown in there, in how they feel, or if they feel that sense of brain fog coming on that they have to stop because we don't want to drive the system too hard. It's kind of like if you're recovering from an injury to your knee, you're not going to go and put 300 pounds on the squat rack and start going. You're going to slowly get that knee to match the other one before you start doing the exercises that you're used to doing.
Ben: One of the things that I also saw you talk about on your website was how concussions today are different than 30 years ago because we've got microwave cell phone devices, and household EMF pollution, and WiFI hitting us from every direction, excessive blue light exposure, the off-gassing of new cars, and foam mattresses, and pesticides, and flame retardants, and vaccines. When you run into somebody who's having head issues like TBI, brain fog, are doing full meal deal audit? Are you like asking them if their cell phone's on in their pocket, and what kind of paint they've got in their home, and what kind of mattress they're sleeping on?
Steve: Yeah. So, we're going to meet them where they're at. So, if all they know is junk food and they live in a… we kind of find out what their living environment is and then we improve it and give them, if you were to come in, I'd get much more aggressive with it 'cause I know how much you do. So, we really got to meet the person where they're at and walk with them. But, yes. I mean, I'm going to look at all of those things. I think the immune system challenges that we have in our environment are like we've never seen before. When I hit 47 years old, when I was in the first grade, I had probably nine to 11 doses of vaccine. By the time I was 6 years old, these kids today have 36 to 40 doses of vaccine, and to think that that doesn't have an immune system impact on them when they have a head injury is insane. The number of chemicals in our daily environment has, it's like 85,000 chemicals have been introduced to our home environments and our work environments since World War II, things that just didn't exist to our genome prior to that. So, we're asking our genes to adapt to an environment that's completely foreign and it's completely changed in the last 50 years.
Ben: So, for me, like I've had a bike accident when I was a kid been, punched in the eye, I think you guys told this, had an orbital eye fracture during a sparring session. I've gotten beat up a little bit spartan racing, et cetera. What's the best way for somebody to just kind of find out if anything's wrong. If I suspect, they're like, “Yeah, I might be walking a little crooked,” or just want to know, you mentioned an inflammatory blood marker test, which obviously, there's a host of confounding variables there. It could be because you're eating green beans, it could be because you've had a TBI. What do you like as kind of like the best way for something listening in to be able to easily kind of figure out if they do have some neurological deficits or some vestibular or visual dysfunction? What's a good kind of analysis or even evaluation that someone could do that's low-hanging fruit, that they don't necessarily have to, again, like necessarily fly to New York to see you guys to get done?
Steve: Well, first of all, there's hundreds and hundreds of chiropractic neurologists around the country that are very well-trained at doing these types of assessments.
Ben: What's it called? A chiropractic neurologist?
Steve: A chiropractic neurologist. They have a distinction called “The Diplomate of the American Chiropractic Neurology Board”, usually through the Carrick Institute, and you can go to their website or you can go to the website for the American Chiropractic Neurology Board. That's acnb.org.
Steve: Yeah. And you can find a practitioner through their website, and that would be a good place to start. But there are a lot of other practitioners, there's a lot of great chiropractors out there who don't have this neurology distinction. You don't really have to have it. If you've taken the time to learn and understand the connection between the body and the brain and how important spinal function is, then a good chiropractic assessment is really the place to start, especially if they're doing a good neurological-type exam. Chiropractors are very, very skilled at looking at the relationship between spinal function, neurological function, and brain function. So, again, not from a pathological perspective like a neurologist is, a medical neurologist, but more from a functional perspective. And then getting a postural assessment along the lines of what Ben Velasquez, I can't imagine not having that now, being able to give somebody the exercises that are found in ELDOA. The ELDOA system, like you said, is like a self-decompression, whereas we're used to passive decompression, this is an active decompression. And it's quite remarkable and it doesn't require a whole lot of expense. It just requires some time and frequency.
Ben: Okay. Got it. Interesting. So Ben, I'm curious. If you were to have someone come into your facility and they're walking a little funny, you found out there were some visual or some vestibular issues that the needed to work on, as far as your general training approach, you've got your ELDOA, you have some of the screens that you're doing, but is there anything else you're doing that's unique that you think more people should know about? ‘Cause you got a lot of stuff going on in your facility. I know you've worked with a lot of people, a lot of pro athletes. Are there any kind of like special techniques, or biohacks, or tools that you're using that you think more people should know about?
Ben V.: Yeah. So, my end goal with any athlete that comes in that wants to get back to contact sport is I have to be able to, like Steve alluded to, I want to be able to do really smart exercises. And what I mean by that is I want him to be able to execute the Olympic lifts, I want him to be able to do certain gymnastic drills, certain animal flow drills that kind of require two things. One, they require them to know where they are in space at all times, and two, they require them to accept and dissipate force at a high speed. So, for example, in an Olympic lift, like an exercise like the snatch, it's probably the only thing that I know where you're loaded and you're absorbing high G forces and you have that whole neuromechanical system functioning at a very high level. If not, you can't do it. It's not like getting in a leg press where you can read the paper and answer a phone call. So, I want my athletes to be able to reach those points. As far as unique tools are concerned, I kind of like beg, borrow, and steal. As long as I understand the science behind it and it fits into what my goal is, I really like all the stuff that's going on with the animal flow system, the different movement movements that are out there.
Ben: Like Ido Portal, and primal fitness play, and stuff like that where you're moving body weight more like an animal?
Ben V.: Yes, exactly. I really like that a lot because it's a very low risk for me and my athletes, but it's a lot of information. It also is very humbling for an athlete not to be able to do stuff like that 'cause then they realize, “Wow. I have no symptoms, but I should really be able to do this,” or, “Going to my right when I do this feels different than going to my left.” So, I tend to use stuff like that. Like I said, certain gymnastic drills, and I use a piece of equipment here called the D11 by Desmotec which is a company, I'll send you the link, it's a company out of Milan, Italy. And it looks like some of the flywheel stuff that we have here in the US, but it's way more advanced and I can measure force production, and I can look at force production right to left, and it really taxes the athlete eccentrically at a very high speed, which for most athletes, for me it's the biggest indicator as to whether or not they're ready structurally. So, the those are some of the things that I use. But I really like the Olympic lifts.
Ben: That one's called a Desmotec?
Ben V.: Yeah. Desmotec. And the model is, they have a D11 and a D12, but the D11 is the one that I use.
Ben: Okay. Got it. I'll link to that in the show notes as well.
Steve: Ben, there's a couple of vestibular things that I have no connection with that I think are just absolutely awesome to use, and Ben and I have been using them quite a bit lately. One of them is an app that people can just get for six bucks called #BeFirst and it's an ocular vestibular training program that can be used in a gym-type environment. #BeFirst, it's pretty incredible.
Ben: Oh, yeah! You were showing me this one! Yeah. Okay.
Steve: Yeah. It's really exciting. They have a whole testing procedure on there. So, you could test yourself, go through the exercises they give you, and they'll give you a daily exercise. And you can keep retesting yourself and watch your ocular system improve. It even has what we call Brock strings that train convergence and divergence of your eyes, something that's very important to athletes. And also, there's a low-tech piece of equipment that I use called MotionGuidance. I guess it's motionguidance.com and it's kind of like a Velcro headband with a laser, and you move your neck and your eyes consistent with a type of a rehab procedure that could be for your neck, or for your lower back, or for your limbs and it gives that biofeedback. The laser kind of tells your brain where your position is and they offer great training and videos. And all of that is very low tech, it's very inexpensive. The #BeFirst is $6 and I think it's far better than a $15,000 Dynatron used in a lot of these training facilities that the NFL is using 'cause it does far more than that and it's $6. So, those are two tools that I use for the vestibular and ocular system.
Ben: Cool. I like it. I'll link to this stuff in the show notes and it's over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/fixyourhead for those you want to check out that stuff and get a get a Velcro strap laser light for your head to see how you're moving. You can also go on and see Steve and Ben. I went back there when I was in New York. Their facility's actually pretty cool. It's right across the street from Central Park and they have a sick gym with all sorts of Steve's crazy eye hacking equipment over there as well. And I will, of course, link to their websites over in the show notes as well should you want to go look them up and what they do if you happen to be in or near New York. I'll also link to this fascinating paper. It took me a long time to read and get through, but it's what influenced me to have Steve on the podcast. So, I'd highly recommend, if you have TBI or concussion, do give the whole paper read. It's a doozy, but I'll link to it in the show notes as well, and a few key articles that Steve has written. So guys, that all being said, thanks for coming on the show and sharing all this stuff with us. It's really fascinating kind of where we used to be in terms of our understanding of concussions and TBI and where we're at now.
Steven: Thank you, Ben. It was a pleasure.
Ben V.: Thank you, Ben. Thanks for having us on.
Ben: Awesome. Alright, folks. Well, until next time, I'm Ben Greenfield signing out from bengreenfieldfitness.com/fixyourhead. Have an amazing week.
Four months ago, I was at a party in Park City, Utah that happened to be chock full of chiropractic physicians. While I was leaning against the bar mixing myself a white wine kombucha spritzer, as I'm prone to do, a doctor named Steve Geanopulos approached me and introduced himself.
Sensing I was a fellow physiology geek with his science-spidey sense, he proceeded to fill me in on a fascinating paper entitled “The Potential Impact of Various Physiological Mechanisms on Outcomes in TBI, mTBI, Concussion and PPCS.” He then went on to explain that this paper, which we'll discuss in today's podcast along with plenty of other neural fixing and neural enhancing topics, forms the basis of the care he provides for his chronic brain-based patients (not only concussion but anyone who struggles with movement, sight, focus, attention, or other brain-based issues.).
We also discussed the work Steve does with professional and collegiate athletes and concussion with his colleague Ben Velazquez, and the work he's done with a guy named Guy Voyer over the past 20 years with ELDOA – a form of fascial stretching that I personally incorporate in my own training and my clients' protocols. He described his approach as a “neuro-chemical, neuro-immunological, neuro-mechanical approach”. So wh0 is this guy exactly?
Dr. Steven G. Geanopulos, affectionately known as ‘Dr. G’, is a speaker, writer, and leader in the world of functional neurology / functional medicine and is quickly becoming one of America’s leading experts in lifelong, optimized living. His experience and clinical approach have proven that diminished health and vitality can be reclaimed by just about any proactive person at any age.
Dr. G.’s principles of practice cover the 5 essential keys to resolving the underlying cause of health problems and performance concerns including; assessing the nervous system for interference, endocrine system, detoxification systems, nutrition and fitness.
Dr. G has completed his postgraduate studies in the field of Functional Neurology and attained board certification through the Carrick Institute, a distinction shared by fewer than 700 people worldwide. Dr. G is a lifelong learner and has completed hundreds of hours of training in the fields of chiropractic neurology and functional medicine. The material he shares covers everything required to take control of your health while dispelling the ever-growing number of fallacies and myths related to this subject. Dr. G’s fascinating and refreshing approach to body transformation focuses immune function, brain function, nutrition, management of our personal environment, exercise and hormone balance. Dr. G currently practices virtually with clients and sees patients from all over the world with his main practice located in New York City. His practice has 3 main areas of focus:
- Brain health
2. Metabolic health
3. Structural and functional integrity and optimization.
These 3 areas of focus are intimately connected and require Dr. G’s unique expertise.
Eventually, I made it to New York City to meet with Steve and also meet his colleague there: Benjamin Velazquez Pagan. Ben's qualifications include:
-Licensed Soma-Trainer (Performance Physical Therapy)
-Certified Strength & Conditioning Coach
-Member, International Sports Sciences Association
-Member, National Strength & Conditioning Association
-Member, American College of Sports Medicine
-Co-Contributing Author, “Fascia – Clinical Applications for Health and Human Performance”
As a competitive athlete, Benjamin Velazquez realizes the value and potential that comes with a scientific sports program. As a Performance therapist, his goal is to bridge the gap between cutting-edge science and today's athlete. Ben's professional experience includes Managing Partner and Director of Human Performance of Sports Lab NYC LLC; President of Grey Matters Sports Group LLC. He designs programs and coaches his New York clientele that ranges from elite athlete to high profile celebrity. In addition to a B.S. degree in Aeronautical Science, Ben holds several certifications, which include NCSA Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist, Licensed Performance Soma- Therapist, ACSM Exercise Specialist, ISSA Sports performance Nutritionist, and many more.
Ben's client roster includes:
-22 current and Former N.H.L. Athletes,
-18 current and former M.L.B. Players
-5 Division 1 NCAA Soccer Players
-12 Current N.F.L. Athletes.
-The Women’s 2006 Track Team at the University of Texas.
Ben has also worked with the Saskatoon Blades Hockey Team 1999-2000, the 2003 national champion New York Freedom Soccer Team as well as 5 Athletes at The Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. Ben has spent the last two years researching the use of corrective exercise in mitigating the risk factors of concussions in athletes. Along with his team at Grey Matters Sports Group, he has successfully worked with athletes from five different sports that were recovering from multiple concussions. He and his team have pioneered a five-tier method of rehabilitating the athlete that has suffered from concussive trauma.
During my discussion with Ben and Steve, you'll discover:
-Why concussions today are much different today than they were 30 years ago…14:00
-Why Steve describes concussions as an immune system issue…18:30
-Steve and Ben's approach for returning to play, work or school after a head injury or concussion-like syndrome…24:00
-Why Steve had me wear a giant pair of infrared goggles when he evaluated me in New York City…35:00
-What kind of blood work you have to have done to see if you've had a concussion…50:45
-Why Ben V. feels that anybody who is dealing with a concussion or TBI should learn a form of fascial stretching called ELDOA…56:45
-And much more!
Resources from this episode:
–The BeFirst app Steve discusses
-The concussion paper that Ben and Steven discussed at the party:
–The Kion Clean Energy Bar The cleanest burning energy bar you'll ever eat, guaranteed!
–Aaptiv An app that's like a personal trainer in your pocket. Sign up today and get an automatic membership for 30% off.
-Join Ben and Robyn Openshaw, aka the Green Smoothie Girl, for an immersive health retreat in the Swiss Alps next June! There are only a few spaces still available. Click here for more info.