Simple Neurological Exercises to Create a Balanced Brain
July 6, 2021
Have you ever wondered what neuro rehab looks like or what you can do to help your child from the comfort of your home? Today on the My Child Will Thrive Podcast I’m sharing a special interview from the Autism, ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder Summit with Dr. Ryan Cedermark, RN, BSN, MSN, FNP-C, DC, DACNB. Dr. Cedermark and I talked about the principles of neuroplasticity, what Functional Disconnection Syndrome is and neurological exercises you can do to create a balanced brain for your child.
It’s important to understand how you can leverage positive neuroplasticity and Dr. Cedermark takes us through the simple activities that can help parents like you help their child from the comfort of your home.
If you’d like to sign up to hear more interviews just like Dr. Cedermark’s, head on over to www.mychildwillthrive.com/summit.
- Dr. Ryan explains the principles of neuroplasticity and how it plays a role in the development of the brain. (4:35)
- What is the concept around the balanced brain? (8:16)
- How Dr. Ryan uses different techniques and ideas to stimulate his young son’s brain with easy activities at home. (12:25)
- Why some children get to the point where certain sensory experiences are too overwhelming. (15:49)
- How to identify where the weaknesses are versus where strengths are in your child’s brain plus some of the exercises you can do. (17:55)
- What Functional Disconnection Syndrome is and why it’s important. (23:17)
- Neuro-rehab – what it looks like and a few things you can do at home. (26:51)
- The importance of frequency and duration when it comes to neuroplasticity techniques. (29:58)
- How to get started with all of this from home or when to see a practitioner (we both recommend Dr. Melilo’s book, Disconnected Kids!) (33:16)
- More about Dr. Ryan’s Facebook community, Brain Chat. (38:01)
Resources and Links
Articles Related to Simple Neurological Exercises to Create a Balanced Brain
More about Dr. Ryan Cedermark
Dr. Ryan Cedermark graduated Magna Cum Laude from Life University in 2011. While in school, Dr. Cedermark enrolled in postgraduate neurology courses, earning his Diplomate in Neurology from the American Chiropractic Neurology Board in 2013. Passionate about a multidisciplinary approach to healthcare, Dr. Cedermark graduated Magna Cum Laude with his Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Duke University and completed a Family Nurse Practitioner program at Georgia State University in 2018. Dr. Cedermark currently serves as adjunct faculty at National University teaching in the Master's Program. Dr. Cedermark is also a Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner and serves on the board of the International Association of Functional Neurology and Rehabilitation (IAFNR) as well as the Medical Advisory Board for SNA Biotech.
Dr. Cedermark currently works full-time at Regional Medical Group in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Cedermark’s multidisciplinary educational background creates a unique approach in today’s healthcare environment.
00:01 Tara Hunkin:
This is My Child Will Thrive and I'm your host, Tara Hunkin, Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, Certified GAPs Practitioner, Restorative Wellness Practitioner, and Mother. I'm thrilled to share with you the latest information, tips, resources, and tools to help you on the path to recovery for your child with ADHD, autism, sensory processing disorder, or learning disabilities.
My own experiences with my daughter combined with as much training as I can get my hands on research I can dig into and conferences I can attend have helped me to develop systems and tools for parents like you who feel overwhelmed, trying to help their children. So sit back as I share another great topic to help you on your journey. A quick disclaimer, before we get started, My Child Will Thrive is not a substitute for working with a qualified healthcare practitioner. The information provided on this podcast is not intended to diagnose or treat your child. Please consult your healthcare practitioner before implementing any information or treatments that you have learned about on this podcast. There are many gifted, passionate, and knowledgeable practitioners with hundreds. If not thousands of hours of study and clinical experience available to help guide you.
Part of our goal is to give you the knowledge and tools you need to effectively advocate for your child so that you don't blindly implement each new treatment that comes along. No one knows your child better than you. No one knows your child's history like you do or can better. Judge. What is normal or abnormal for your child?
The greatest success in recovery comes from the parent being informed and asking the right questions and making the best decisions for their child in coordination with a team of qualified practitioners in different areas of specialty today's podcast is sponsored by the Autism, ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder Summit. In order to learn more about the summit and to sign up for free, please go to www.mychildwillthrive.com/summit.
2:04 Tara Hunkin: Hi. Welcome back to the My Child Will Thrive podcast. I'm excited to have you here with me today and to be able to share with you an interview that I did with Dr. Ryan Cedermark, Functional Neurologist, for the Autism, ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder Summit. In this interview, Dr. Cedermark talks about simple exercises you can do at home with your child to bounce their brain and improve neurological function and development. If you'd like to listen to more interviews from the Autism, ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder Summit for free, you can sign up at www.mychildwillthrive.com/summit. Without further ado, here's the interview info that I did with Dr. Ryan Cedermark. Enjoy.
2:56 Tara Hunkin:
Welcome back to the Autism ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder Summit. I am very excited to have with me today, Dr. Cedermark, he's going to be talking to us about simple neurological exercises to create a balanced brain.
So I'm going to tell you a little bit about him before we get started. Dr. Cedermark graduated from Life University in 2011. And while in school, he enrolled in postgraduate neurology courses earning his diploma in neurology from the American Chiropractic Neurology Board in 2013. He's passionate about a multidisciplinary approach to healthcare and he graduated with his Bachelor's of Science in Nursing from Duke University and completed a family nurse practitioner program at Georgia State University in 2018.
So we are super excited to have you here today, because not only did you do that, you also have an amazing Facebook channel called Brain Chat, where you talk about all things functional neurology all the time, which is really exciting. And of course you are a repeat speaker here on the summit, so I'm really glad to have you here again.
4:10 Dr. Ryan Cedermark:
Yeah. Thank you so much for asking me to be on again. This is awesome.
4:15 Tara Hunkin:
Yeah, Well, let's get right to it today so that people can hear all about these things. So let's start right from the very beginning. In order to create a balanced brain, we need to leverage neuroplasticity. Can you explain to everybody what the principles of neuroplasticity are?
4:35 Dr. Ryan Cedermark:
Sure. So this all the brain is pretty cool because as most of us know now the brain can change. So the things that we do on a day-to-day basis can mold and shape the way that our brain works. And it's really interesting because you talk to some people who have been in practice for a long period of time and not so long ago, they were taught in medical school that the brain couldn't change in that what you saw with the brain is what you got. So the laws of neuroplasticity basically mean that the brain can change for the better, for the worse. And when I learned that and I started to understand neuroplasticity, it made sense to me, by how a chiropractic adjustment or how exercise can make you work better and feel better and do better.
So the basic laws of neuroplasticity are, which I'm sure everyone's heard is, if you don't use it, you lose it. And then again, another way to look at it too, is if you lose it, so if there's brain trauma or brain injury, and then you don't use it anymore, you lose it more. Does that make sense?
5:43 Tara Hunkin:
5:44 Dr. Ryan Cedermark:
Yeah. So it's pretty simple stuff, but with neuroplasticity, you have to create a good environment for your brain. And a good environment comes in the form of good nutrition, getting good oxygen to the cells and then what I really am passionate about talking about is good stimulation to the nervous system. So it really relies on good information coming in to get better and be better.
6:08 Tara Hunkin:
Yeah. So where does neuroplasticity play a role though in development of the brain like the growing of the brain?
6:16 Dr. Ryan Cedermark:
So the brain, as we come out, I think of the brain is a clean slate when we're first born. But what's important to remember too, is that there's things that can happen in the womb, like maternal stress or environmental toxins, that can actually change how well the brain is going to be born. So the brain starts out with billions of neurons. I think most of the research says in the hundreds of billions, which I don't even know what that number looks like, but it's a lot.
So you're kind of like given a ton of neurons and you have this huge opportunity to build a lot of plasticity, but over time you start to lose neurons that you don't use. So basically neuroplasticity happens from even before you're born based on mom's health, dad's health, the environment that they're living in, how stressful the environment is, and then when you're born, and then the few years that you're going through your childhood, those can really shape and mold the brain to be better and kind of gauge into the neuroplasticity aspect of it. But it starts long before we're even here, technically.
7:27 Tara Hunkin:
Yeah. Which is, I think, the thing that most of us don't understand or realize when we first are having children that, we're told about the environment when we're pregnant and everything else that it's going to impact the health of the child, but we don't realize that it actually impacts the brain health as well.
So I think it's something that I know I wish I understood better before I had my kids. When we were talking about, we now know that the brain can change and that it changes right through the growth and development of the child. What happens when that development or that plasticity sort of goes on offline. What is the concept around the balanced brain?
8:16 Dr. Ryan Cedermark:
So, and just to kind of go back on the maternal thing. So my wife, I started reading some of the research papers when we found out my wife was first pregnant with our two year old, and I started to read. I knew the effects of stress on the brain were pretty profound in the sense that it can start to shut the brain down and you can start to get like shrinkage of the brain.
So throughout the course of my wife's pregnancy, I was being, she called it like, too sweet. She was like, why are you being so nice? Like, why are you being so nice? And like, I just don't want you to stress out. Like, you know, I didn't know what I was doing, being a first-time parent, but I would do everything I could do to try to make sure that she wasn't as stressed as she could have been just to try to help with our baby's brain.
But anyways, I just found that to be so fascinating because the more you read about stress, the more you learn that it really can just dampen and hinder the brain's ability to develop good plasticity and good neuro-plasticity.
9:18 Tara Hunkin:
No, I was going to say that's actually a really good point because we don't really think about that as well. Like in terms of, we also now know that on the neurodegeneration side of things that stress can start that downward trend as well. So it makes a lot of sense that it's going to have the same impact in the developing brain.
9:38 Dr. Ryan Cedermark:
Yeah. It's just, it's crazy to me to think that, but, but so yeah, we're given this beautiful, clean slate of billions of neurons and then throughout life, the brain is pretty picky.
So the way I like to look at it is when we're first born, we're kind of given this beautiful brain, that's a big sponge and the brain is a big, I call it a big sensory sponge. So the brain's really relying on sensory stimulation to be able to understand its environment and grow and interact and try to figure out how to do things.
And what's really interesting about the brain, especially the human brain, is that the sensory part of the brain, which is more in the back part of the brain, you've got your auditory cortex. So the temporal lobes on the side and in the back, you've got your visual cortex, which is your occipital lobe. And then you've got your parietal lobe on the big sides here that really receives all the sensory input, like the touch, the feel, the hugs, the kisses.
And what's cool about that is as the more stimulation comes in through those parts of the brain, the front part of the brain starts to grow bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger. And the front part of the brain is the part of the brain that we know makes us human, helps with motor movements, helps with focus, concentration, helps with inhibition. So being able to like do things and not get in trouble, being socially appropriate.
So when I learned that too, I started to realize, if we can, since we're given all these kind of, I'm referencing like when my son was born, but he's given this beautiful sensory sponge, let's utilize that, let's use those beautiful neurons that he's got and let's give it stimulation. And I just found the way I thought about it in my head was that the frontal lobe, it's slowly starting to develop over time as babies receive their sensory input.
I thought about it as like a city. So it's a new city, little buildings are popping up, but the more information that's coming in, the more they need to put the information in different places. So more buildings start to build and the bigger the brain gets in the front part of the brain. But anyways, it all goes back to, if you don't use it, you lose it. So as children grow, I've just that the more sensory stimulation that you can provide to the system, the better information the front part of the brain has to work with it and the better that area of the brain can work overall.
12:05 Tara Hunkin:
Yeah. So in that that's yeah. Which makes a lot of sense. Which is interesting, especially, well maybe, can you give some examples of the types of things, sensory based things, that you did with your son when he was at the different ages in order to stimulate that system? What would you do?
12:25 Dr. Ryan Cedermark:
Yeah, so as a baby, honestly, some of my friends thought I was crazy, but I, the more I read the research, I started to understand, okay, sensory stimulation was super-duper important, but movement to activate his cerebellum, which is an area of the brain responsible for posture and coordination.
And then the vestibular system, which is really responsible for orientation and body movements, those areas feed in significantly to the frontal lobe and they help with comprehension. They help with speech. So what I really started out doing was just creating a sensory environment for him, which sounds so silly because he's this little potato just hanging out in the room on his back.
But I just created an environment that was a little bit more enriched than just kind of like staring at a blank wall. And yeah, our house got kinda messy, but there's stuff on the walls. We had different color lights, different music and sounds playing in the room. So I created that and then I would also, as soon as he was old enough to hold his head up, I started putting him on a swing. And I kind of related that back to just getting some balance center activation and vestibular activation to the brain, because I knew that getting out and doing those little tiny things, just silly little things would slowly start to develop the front part of his brain. And that's how I started it out. And we kind of just progressed from there, but I promise I'm not like one of those crazy parents, that's like, scheduled sensory time for him. We just created an enriched environment for him from a sensory perspective.
And just to touch on that too, we've done a lot of research on stroke patients because I also worked with a lot of stroke patients. And there's some really interesting research that shows that when a patient has a stroke, they start to lose parts of their brain and they lose the function. But based on the laws of neuroplasticity and the ability to get the brain back online, you can provide sensory stimulation to those areas and get those areas to kind of build back up. So an enriched environment is something they would do as stroke patients, where they would put them in a setting that kind of just stimulated their brain. And it was simple passive stuff, but the research showed that it helped their recovery times, helped them with their functional goals and it just made them recover faster and better. So I kind of used that idea with an environmental enrichment perspective and we just went from there.
15:06 Tara Hunkin:
Yeah. It's really interesting because I know a lot of parents that are listening that may have a child that's struggling in a lot of different ways developmentally right now. And a lot of them have sensory, what is now called sensory processing disorder, or they may be on the autism spectrum, or they may have both, but that have issues with a number of the things that you're describing that you were trying to activate in your very young child.
So why is it that some children then get to the point where certain sensory experiences, be it sound or light or movement or touch, becomes too much for them and they get overwhelmed? What's happening in the brain when that going on?
15:49 Dr. Ryan Cedermark:
So the way the brain kind of grows and develops, it kind of starts in the middle and then it starts to expand and blossom out. So a lot of times I know Dr. Melillo was on the show and he, he talks about primitive reflexes. So primitive reflex is, these are reflexes that are there and they're there to keep us alive, but they're foundational in brain maturity. So if a primitive reflex isn't, if it never goes away.
So if you what's called retain a primitive reflex, you can start to lose maturity in the brain. And what maturity in the brain really looks like from a general perspective is the ability to inhibit. So the ability to shut down unwanted stimulation, the ability to shut down unwanted thoughts, the ability to be able to focus on one thing at a time.
So what I've found with that from a functional perspective, from like a physical input perspective is that some parts of the brain that shouldn't necessarily be working are working a little bit over time and they need to be re-engaged and exercised out if that makes sense. And as you do that, you allow the, you give the frontal lobe, the front part of the brain, the ability to kind of do its job.
So it's almost like what I've found. If you rule out the fact that there aren't major nutritional deficiencies or issues or congenital anomalies, if it's a functional thing, it could just be that parts of the brain need to be exercised and other parts of the brain kind of need to just chill out and go on vacation for a little bit. And that all goes back to doing some exercises to remediate primitive reflexes and build the front part of the brain.
17:41 Tara Hunkin:
Yeah. So let's talk about that in terms of how you identify where the weaknesses are versus where the, maybe the strengths are. So how do you know what parts of the brain need that rehabilitation?
17:55 Dr. Ryan Cedermark:
So I always start anytime, when my son was first born, I started to assess his primitive reflexes because there's milestones, there's developmental milestones where things should start to kind of slowly go away and other things should mature. So I always start with just checking primitive reflexes. If I sense some sort of brain issue, which did Dr. Melillo talk about all the different types of tests and exercises?
18:21 Tara Hunkin:
No. So we can talk about some of those. That'd be great.
18:25 Dr. Ryan Cedermark:
So, you know, because the brain's a sensory sponge, some of the most common primitive reflexes that I've seen to kind of stick around or resurface in times of stress or brain trauma are things like the Palmer reflex, which is a super duper simple thing to test on your child.
Basically what should happen if you stroke someone's hand that's of maturity, so like an older kid, anyone kind of past the age of like six months to a year, if you stroke their hands, several times, their hand should stay in extension. So an open Palm should stay open. What you may see in a Palmer reflex is this, the hand starts to slowly kind of flex because what a Palmer reflex is is you put the finger in and the baby grabs your hand.
It's not because of the baby likes you, it's just a reflex. I'm just getting the baby loves you. So you check that. And then an easy, what I love to use as a sensory stimulation is vibration. So I have all these little gadgets that vibrate, you can buy like $2 ones at Walmart, or I guess anywhere, or you can buy like the fancy ones, but basically I would just put vibration.
So for my son, I would put vibration in the palm of his hands because vibration for most people is a very nice stimulation. It's very calming and soothing, and it actually activates the big fibers in the spinal cord and it fires into really important parts of the brain. So I just use vibration on the palm of his hand and then I just retest it. Just provides stimulation to areas that need the stimulation. So I always check Palmer reflex.
Then I check something called the Spinal Galant reflex, which I'm sure a lot of people know about on here. But if that one's retained, you do see a lot of things like hypersensitivity, sometimes prolonged bedwetting. And to me, all it really is is the muscles that are responsible for posture and coordination just haven't gotten the lovin' that they need. And what I mean by that is that they haven't been really activated or just given the stimulation that they need. So I would use vibration on the muscles of the paraspinal groups, which is those big muscles that run alongside the spine with vibration.
And there's other exercises you can do for that. But I always start looking at primitive reflexes because even in brain injury, like in a stroke or in a traumatic brain injury, concussion, these little buggers will start to resurface. And as important as they are for the first year of life, if they start to show up as our brain starts to shut down or there's injury or anything like that, they can cause a whole host of issues.
And the goal really with all of this is to just try to get our brain balanced. So right and left side talking and communicating really well, but also to build some really big muscles in the front part of the brain. So I always kind of go to like one or two of those primitive reflexes, I'll go through a whole checklist of them, but that's where I start. I start with the simple ones.
21:18 Tara Hunkin:
Yeah. Which makes a lot of sense. And it's amazing when you start to see what types of very simple stimulation that can actually make that big of a difference. It's I think sometimes that's hard to comprehend, but it's great when it's explained like that.
21:33 Dr. Ryan Cedermark:
And also walking barefoot, I know I'm sure other people have talked about this before, but I just, I find that so important because, and even the shoes that we buy our kids. I've worn shoes where it feels like I've been in several casts, because I've broken several bones and I'm like this shoe literally feels like a hard cast and our brain, it relies heavily on sensory information from our environment.
So walking barefoot, when it's safe around the house on different surfaces that provides so much good information to the brain and it also really helps build the intrinsic muscles in the feet. So there's so much with that too. And that also helps shut down reflexes and all that. But that's another one of my favorites. Like whenever we're chilling at the house, we take our shoes and socks off. And then when we have to wear shoes, like for my little guy, we try to buy the most minimal type shoe.
22:26 Tara Hunkin:
Yeah. There's just some really bad shoes out there. There are lots of bad shoes out there. That's for sure. Wait until we wait until he starts getting picky about what they look like that, then it becomes a really big problem, says the mom of teens. So let's talk a little bit more about. So if people haven't seen Dr. Melillo talks about this yet, or haven't heard about it before, let's talk about that brain balance concept, because that is something that he, Functional Disconnection Syndrome, that he sort of has developed that work. And a number of the people that work with children, do a lot of work with that in mind. Can you just explain what that is and why that's so important?
23:17 Dr. Ryan Cedermark:
Sure. Obviously everyone knows our brain has two sides. So our right hemisphere and the left hemisphere, and as the brain develops, one of the first hemisphere that really kind of like is inline and online is the right side of the brain. And then as we mature in age, the left side of the brain starts to kick in and they truly do have two different functions and the research really shows that.
So, with children that are suffering from neurodevelopmental disorders, autism, ADHD, Dr. Melillo's work, and a lot of research shows that the right hemisphere just isn't necessarily in line with what the left hemisphere is doing. So it's almost like it's working and it's there. It's just not where it should be. And it's very functional in nature, which means that there's just something kind of hindering the maturity of that side of the brain.
So with Functional Disconnection Syndrome and with hemispheric imbalances, basically just it's a seesaw. And you can think about it as there's a little bit more going on in the left side than the right side for some conditions and then vice versa for others. So that's kind of like the general answer to hemispheric imbalances, but it's also really important to remember that we do become pretty unilateral as we develop.
And by that, I mean, I noticed hand dominance in my son, I think even before he was one year old. And, and what that means really is that he's really getting lots of good sensory information to his right hand, more so than he is to his left hand because he's just going for things more.
So he's doing cerebellar activities more with his right hand, which will kind of drive more of the left brain activation. He's getting more stimulation to the senses on his left hand, sorry senses to his right hand because he's using it more and that's driving more of the left brain. So you do see some kind of like unilateral quality with us, and you can do it.
Like if we all just stopped right now and tried to brush our teeth with the opposite hand, which I know we've all talked about before, it's hard to do. So I think over time as we develop, we do start to get some sort of baseline hemispheric imbalance, but it can get a little bit worse and more difficult if it's not addressed or if there's not other good things kind of making up for that. But basically I always just think of the brain as a seesaw, like what are the left brain functions? What are the right brain functions? What is this person or child having an issue with and where's that in the brain and how can we try to get exercise to that area?
25:56 Tara Hunkin:
Yeah. So let's just talk a little bit because obviously that's some in terms of identifying those things, it's best to work with a practitioner to find out exactly where it needs to be rehabbed. But when we actually do get to doing the rehab and Dr. Melillo in his book also has some good at home tools to get that job done in terms of assessing too so we'll put a link to that below this talk too, but what types of, so like, I think parents often are like, you've explained some basic things using vibration and things, but what is does neuro-rehab look like? Is it like you said, you don't make it, like you're creating the sensory time. How do you build that sort of into what you do and how you, and how you live with your children all the time so it doesn't necessarily have to be a therapy time?
26:51 Dr. Ryan Cedermark:
Well obviously, yeah, you have to make it fun. You know, like homework has to have to be fun. No, I'm just kidding. I mean, for me, like if you're home and you're a parent, it's gotta start with some big muscle group activation. And what I mean by that is I think the way I look at it right now for kids in particular, I don't know if I said this before on the summit, but I find that children in particular are overstimulated in under stimulating ways, and the way the brain grows is the way the brain develops and grows and builds plasticity is through movement and it's through coordinated movement.
So just activating the balance centers by doing silly things and getting the large muscle groups to start to talk to different parts of the brain is a huge, huge input to the brain, as opposed to like sitting down and watching TV, playing video games. So I think it all just starts with like getting outside, tumbling around a little bit, playing some silly games and then working on the big balance groups. And I know that's very general, but like for specific exercises, core stuff is huge.
And if you have a child where you can actually get them to do some core activation exercises, those areas of the body will fire into the balance centers of the brain, those balance centers of the brain, they'll fire up to the big part of the brain. And then it creates a nice little healthy loop of activation. So getting good engagement of the core muscles by doing like planks core stability, exercises, yoga, silly stuff like that, that's really, really good. And then I'm a big fan of kind of like just finding something that the kid loves to do that gets them physically active. The brain will find a way to get coordinated in my opinion.
So for my little guy, when he was about like one and a half, I think it was a little earlier, he got a scooter for Christmas. So he was like one and he just, he stood up on a scooter, he hated it and then we just left it out in the living room. And then he started to try to figure it out and slowly but surely he just developed, he like, he took off on the scooter and he just started riding around like crazy. So obviously having something where the kid can be passionate and excited about doing it, that's a huge thing as opposed to like regimented exercises. But for me, it always starts with big muscle activation trying to get some coordination in there and then kind of fine tuning that with other different types of smaller muscle group exercise things. I don't know if that answered the question.
29:30 Tara Hunkin:
Yeah, it does. I mean, I think that's that's and I think that's, it's as simple as that. So a lot of times we feel like a lot of these things are out of our reach because we may not be able to get to a practitioner, but there's a lot, you can do. I think that what we can take away from that, there's a lot you can do that is very simple, and doesn't have to cost a thing and you can do it every day. And I'm assuming you're going to say the same thing, which is frequency matters, frequency and duration matters.
29:58 Dr. Ryan Cedermark:
Yeah, For sure. So the other thing too, is just like getting your children out to a playground. We have a playground in our neighborhood and a playground I've just found to be such an awesome place for kids to hang out. Not because they're going to play, but like, I never realized this until I started studying this stuff, but that is a huge brain sensory input from a physical perspective, from a somatosensory perspective, the swings are amazing, trying to figure out how to climb up and down bars. All that stuff is just like, it's so good for you, but wait, what was the question?
So the other thing too, this is, this is the cool thing. So my son and sorry, I keep talking about my son, but this makes it so relevant to me. I studied Dr. Melillo work for like eight years, and then I worked with patients and stuff, but when you have a kid and you can see it like live every day, all day, that your brain just is like, wow, this is amazing. But repetition is the language of the brain.
So you'll notice my son has a school teacher. He's in like a children's school. And he, now that we're out of school because of what we're going through, he posts videos every day. And he mentioned something in his last video.
You'll notice that a lot of these songs are the same, but that's how children learn. So he's doing these same songs over and over daily, but repetition is truly the language of the brain. That's how you build plasticity. So I love it. Like my son will do something and then he'll say more, more, more, and you'll continue to do that until he feels like he gets it.
And the way that works in your brain is you have this conscious brain that's always trying to figure out and learn how to do things. And once it's set, once it's snagged onto that, it'll just kind of embed it in an area of the brain. Just like riding a bike, the more you do it, more, you do it, the more you do it, it's hard. It's hard. You fall, you get back up and then over time, you leave 30 years later, you come back, don't have to think about it and just hop on a bike. So yes, I always say to all of our patients and parents repetition is language of the brain. Good, good repetition. Good exercise.
32:02 Tara Hunkin:
Yeah. Yeah. That's that positive neuroplasticity versus the negative, right? Yeah. And I think that's part of it too, is that a lot of times, a lot of these kids have been stuck in, unfortunately they've been stuck in negative neuroplasticity for quite a long period of time. So it's, it's getting switched over to doing the right kind of things to try and get them things back on track. I think that's so much as I think you witnessed, a lot of parents will witness their kids getting worse because of that negative neuroplasticity, they can get better because of the positive.
32:36 Dr. Ryan Cedermark:
A hundred percent like what, the brain that you have today, it doesn't have to be the brain that you have tomorrow. The brain can always change and it wants to, it wants information. It thrives on new information and the brain grows with novelty with new information. So, yeah, it's pretty cool.
33:00 Tara Hunkin:
So just to wrap up, what would you say to parents in terms of the best way to get started? Do you think it would be good to wait to go see a practitioner? Would you just get started today at home with what you have? What would you do?
33:16 Dr. Ryan Cedermark:
Yeah, I mean, gosh, that's a hard question putting me on the spot. I mean, I always, I would just start with sensory input from the day they're born, but depending on where your child's at, there's a lot of ways to try to learn, to see what areas of the brain aren't necessarily working as well as they should and how to do those tests at home. And again, to talk about Dr. Melillo's book, Disconnected Kids, I took that book with me to school.
And when I was in clinic in school working with patients, because it's got a checklist and it helps me try to kind of like guide some way to look at this stuff. But his book does a really nice job of looking at what areas of the brain should be working, what areas aren't, and then what you can do to try to rehab those brains and then retest and see if you're making improvements.
So, you know, I would definitely start there if, if you know of someone that does brain balance type therapy in or around your area, I would just check in with them and see if they can help you out and do an assessment on your kid. I think that's important too, but then hanging out with Tara, making sure you messaged her online, anyone that has good resources and information, I think it's so important. Like it's wild, because I know there's so much that we can do for these kids and their brains are so moldable. So don't ever think that wherever your children's or child's brain is, is where it's going to be. Definitely doesn't have to be that way.
So I don't know. That's a tough question. I would start you can get a Dr. Melillo's book and then go from there. That's how I started learning this stuff. And if you want to nerd out, just read research papers.
35:03 Tara Hunkin:
Well, he's a nerdy book too, like is the full textbook. We can get the full textbook out too. No, I think that's great, great advice. And, like I said, and what I like about it as a message of hope that the reality is is that we can, and improvements won't necessarily that every child would be exactly in terms of typical in terms of their development, but we can make marked improvements at pretty much any age. Obviously the younger, the easier, but it's amazing to see what kids at older can do. I mean, you know that from working with adults, with brain injury as well.
35:42 Dr. Ryan Cedermark:
I would say this too, obviously everyone's brain is so beautiful and we're all different in amazing ways, but I've learned a lot from the way like traditional medicine works compared to how some of these therapies work. And what's so interesting to me and my wife, like she's a physical therapist, so she can kind of like speak on behalf and the way we've had our discussions, With traditional therapy, if something like, if something doesn't work sometimes a therapy for that is to kind of almost like avoid it and try to like figure out how to compensate for that insufficiency within the brain, but or trying to do like some sort of direct stimulation to that area and that doesn't work.
But the way these exercises work is that you have to look at the brain is kind of like a central hub and there's tons of different pathways into the brain to get activation to certain areas. So just because one exercise or one training session or something didn't work for your kid or your child, there's other ways to tap into the brain. So there's so many different exercises and ways to do it.
You just kind of have to figure out where their brain is at and how you need to meet their brain, where the brain is at, and then kind of like go from there. So different pathways into the brain. I mean, I've just seen it. One thing doesn't always work necessarily for the other, for different patients with similar conditions. It just really depends on what the brain wants and the brain is kind of picky too. So it's pretty stubborn.
37:11 Tara Hunkin:
Well, that's actually really, really good advice to give, because the thing is, a lot of times we compare what one person is doing with their child and to try with ours and it doesn't work. And the answer to that is that every child is different. We know that we have to personalize the approach for each kid. There's obviously always starting points. That's why it's great to have references to start with, but if you're getting stuck, you can, I'm sure you can find a practitioner that can help you through that stuck point.
Yeah. Well, I have to thank you again for taking the time to talk with us. It's been great, lots of great information and also lots of hope for the parents that are listening so I want to thank you for doing that. Can you just remind everybody where they can find you, if they want to learn more about what you do and how you do it?
38:01 Dr. Ryan Cedermark:
Sure. Yeah, I'm in my basement. So I have a page on Facebook called Brain Chat. We do post, I try to take the posts they're just very general posts every day, but I do focus a lot on like brain rehab, brain rehabilitation, and brain simulation for children, with ADHD, autism, and then all the way up to like neurodegeneration and stuff, just to try to like, create some different thoughts on how we could make the brain a little bit better. So I have a page called brain chat. That's pretty much it, other than that, I'm currently in an orthopedic practice practice. So that's kind of boring for everybody, but also to parents make sure that you give yourself some hugs and loving because all your parents are awesome working overtime to be amazing parents. So high five to you guys.
38:49 Tara Hunkin: Yeah, Absolutely. Yeah. Well, I told Ryan this before, when we started before we started talking, but you have to follow his page because brain chat is a fabulous resource.
And especially if you'd like to get a little bit more into the dirty part of the brain and really understanding that inner workings of it, but it's always entertaining as well. So I want to thank you again for taking the time again with us this year. And I know we'll get a chance to do this again soon.
39:22 Dr. Ryan Cedermark:
39:23 Tara Hunkin:
So that's a wrap. Thanks for joining me this week on My Child Will Thrive. I'm so passionate about giving you the tools and information you need to help your child recover. And as they say, it takes a village. So join us in the My Child Will Thrive village Facebook group, where you can meet like-minded parents and stay up to date on everything we have going on at My Child Will Thrive.
This is Tara Hunkin, and I'll catch you on the next podcast or over at www.mychildwillthrive.com.
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