The attention issues people with ADD have are often due to problems in the cerebellum that keep them from focusing effectively. This seems simple enough, but so often doctors don’t look to the root of the problem (the brain) when treating their patients. In the third episode of a series with Mary Schlesinger, she and the Amens discuss how interactive metronome therapy can help kids and adults with ADD rewire their brains to focus more attentively for longer periods of time.
For more information on interactive metronome training, visit https://www.amenclinics.com/services/interactive-metronome-training/
Daniel Amen, MD:
Welcome to the Brain Warrior’s Way podcast. I’m Dr. Daniel. Amen.
Tana Amen, BSN RN:
And I’m Tana Amen. In our podcast, we provide you with the tools you need to become a warrior for the health of your brain and body.
The Brain Warrior’s Way podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we have been transforming lives for 30 years using tools like brain SPECT imaging to personalize treatment to your brain. For more information, visit amenclinics.com.
The Brain Warrior’s Way podcast is also brought to you by BrainMD, where we produce the highest quality nutraceuticals to support the health of your brain and body. To learn more, go to brainmd.com.
Daniel Amen, MD: Welcome back. We’re here with Mary Schlesinger. Our interactive metronome therapist who is based in our Restin Virginia clinic. But now with the pandemic, what we’ve realized is we have to do so many things virtual. And this is such an interesting, important therapy to optimize one of the most under recognized parts of the brain, the cerebellum.
Tana Amen, BSN RN: Before we get too far along, we would love for you to post something that you learned today. I’m actually learning a ton. If I’m being overly quiet, more quiet than I usually am. It’s because this is pretty new to me and I’m finding it pretty fascinating. If you are learning something or you know someone maybe who’s been through this or who could use it post it. Also send us your questions and your comments. And if you would be so kind as to leave us a review at Brain Warrior’s Way podcast.com, we would be ever so grateful. And Mary I’m curious, how on earth did you get interested in this?
Mary Scheslinger: Well, like I was saying earlier, it just all started with a man I knew of who was doing it for Parkinson’s. And my father had Parkinson’s. And so I thought, “Well, okay, let’s see what this is about.” And so then, as I was saying, my friend with her children. And it went from there, it just kind of started. I have a background, I would say certification in teaching. I didn’t go that direction once I got out of college and I did do teaching later, but I think there’s always been a teacher in me.
And for me, this is the best kind of teaching there is because it’s one-on-one and you really get to know the individual because they’re entrusting very personal parts of their life with you. And you get to see them get to the point where they have the improvements that they need. And basically the confidence goes through the roof. Some people, when they come by to begin, their head is hanging low and they feel bad about themselves. They feel like this is going to be another therapy that they’re going to fail at but they leave so confident. And so it’s just, every person, it’s like reading a different book. They each have a different story but they all have a nice ending. And it’s just so fun to see that transition and to just see the trajectory of their life change.
Daniel Amen, MD: Well and one of the things this reminds me of, we talked about table tennis a little bit. It’s that repetitive movement that is working the cerebellum. And during the pandemic I taught my 10 year old niece how to play ping pong. And initially she hated it and she was no good at it but the training, I could see every day, she was better than the day before. And then developing competence. It is just really fun to see her blossom but I’m also thinking about karate. Because one of the reasons, so karate is bad if you get hit in the head, right? Brain is soft, skull is hard, don’t get a head injury. But the complex motor movements that you do repetitively the katas that you learn is so good for your cerebellum.
Tana Amen, BSN RN: Also soothing, I was thinking about this as you were going in. It’s one of the reasons I asked that question about how you got involved in this. I was wondering if you had done any research on this, because I was thinking about it as you go. I do this weird tapping thing in my car where if I’m stressed out I’m I know people are going to go, “Okay, she’s really weird.” But I don’t know if I’m the only person who does this, but on my steering wheel, I’ll do this bilateral sort of like tapping thing. And it soothes me if I’m really anxious, I’m late for something. I’ve got a lot in my mind, I’ll tap to music and it like, it settles me down. Just like karate settles me down. And I’m wondering if it has that same sort of effect.
Mary Scheslinger: Yes, it definitely does. In fact I tell people, it just ties in with what you’re saying. I say, “If you’re stressed and you go out taking a walk and I just found this out myself by accident. Usually I take a walk and I distress but I found out that I wasn’t. And so I started making the right hand. It’s basically a tap where you’re making a circle on your leg as you’re tapping. And I just started doing that and it helped me relax. But I do know that when I work with individuals, I didn’t really go over all of the things that typically changed, but usually besides focus and concentration impulsivity. I tend to see initiative and organization but I see also reduction in anxiety and I see motor changes too. This is used for neurological as well.
I see a reduction in ticks and things like that. But I’ve had people tell me that they fall asleep faster, or they stay asleep. Things just settle down in their mind and in their body. I think that’s really important. I’ve worked with people who pick at their fingers so much that they have to bandage them because they’re bleeding. And it’s not just the adults, the kids, there’s a lot of kids that just carry a tremendous amount of stress. And it just distresses them. And just like it does with the impulsivity. I have kids, well mostly kids, sometimes adults who come in and they are really up on the ceiling they’re really there. And by the time they leave, they leave different. Now it’s not hardwired yet, but just by doing it for an hour, they’re much more settled. And that stays there.
Tana Amen, BSN RN: Yeah. That made me think that, what you brought up, I was just thinking the same thing. Because there are lots of studies. I believe there’s 127 studies on martial arts and how it is good for certain issues. I hate calling them disorders, but issues, like autism ADD behavioral issues because of that settling. It’s the katas that are so good for them. It’s because of the rhythmic movement. But there are a lot of people who can’t do martial arts. And so that’s what’s making me think about this. It’s the rhythmic motion of it. It’s that, so I’m wondering, that’s got to have that or maybe it has that same effect.
Daniel Amen, MD: If somebody’s listening and they want to do this therapy with you, or talk to you about that, how do they do that? They just call the call center?
Mary Scheslinger: Sure.
Daniel Amen, MD: They come into the clinics? There is information on an interactive metronome on our website. But tell us another story of perhaps a student you’ve worked with.
Mary Scheslinger: Okay, okay. And yes, they would just call Amen Clinic. And like you said, there is a good piece on the website, the Amen Clinic website, that actually shows a video clip of it being done and what have you. But I would definitely call them back. The starting point is the assessment and that’s where they come in and get some basic scores and gives them a good introduction to metronome. They have the headphones on and the sensor and they can kind of get an idea what it feels like. And I even let the other family members try it out too.
But in terms of another story, this one was really important to me. This was a girl, she was a rising sixth grader and she had ADHD and she was making good grades, but it was sheer determination. And she was on medication. She was on adult levels of Concerta and she was taking Intuniv. She barely got through the school day. And then by the time she got home, she had to take more to get through the homework. And then every night she ended up taking melatonin. Then she could fall asleep and start it all over again. And she got to the point where it was a failure to thrive situation. The Concerta had taken away her appetite. Her stomach would be growling but she just was not eating her lunch. And so the mom was really, really getting worried. And the doctor said, look, there’s nothing else I can give her. She’s already on adult levels. And she was a very wispy young girl. And so it was summertime. And the mother said, I’m taking her off of everything. It’s summer, it doesn’t matter if she’s bouncy.
She took her off and she called me, she didn’t know anything about metronome. She’d just come across it and then did a little research and called me. I started working with her and it was over a 49 day period in the summer but we really only worked, I believe it was maybe 17 sessions. 17 one hour sessions. You don’t do it for more than an hour at a time. Because even if you’re not tired, the brain’s been given a workout. It needs to rest overnight. You can do it the next day. Okay so it’s time for school to start. And also she was very, caring a lot of stress, about transitioning into middle school and stuck in that loop. We went through the sessions and she started, and it was obviously at a new school and the mom wasn’t getting any calls from the teachers.
And so she called the school and she said, did you all lose my phone number? Because it’s a new school but she was so used to getting the calls. Because she went back with no medication. They said, no, no, we just didn’t have any reason to call you. Now, this girl was on a individualized education plan, where they give you a little extra time or make some accommodations. And so what happened was when the mom talked to the teachers, they said, no, she’s a little bit chatty but it’s just whatever you would expect from a sixth grade girl. And so what was interesting was they had their first IEP meeting and the teachers all came and they said, you know what? We don’t really know why she’s on an IEP. She doesn’t need to be on an IEP. It was just amazing to go from adult levels of medications, to starting a new school year in an unfamiliar school and having what would be extra layer of stress and not having your medication and yet still being able to maintain your grades and actually be released from an IEP.
Daniel Amen, MD: That’s amazing.
Tana Amen, BSN RN: Yeah.
Mary Scheslinger: I know it was so exciting. It was really, really great. And the mother, what I do is I have people give me examples of why they came really specific. This tends to happen and this is the scenario and this is how often. And then I have them make goals because you forget where your starting point was when you start to improve and it’s in their own handwriting. I love going back to those and saying, remember how you had this problem? And they’re like, Oh yeah, I forgot about that. That hasn’t been bothering me lately. And so this mother, on her own, she was documenting everything. And she wrote me, I think it was probably a three page, maybe four page single spaced.
Daniel Amen, MD: [crosstalk [00:12:32] Wow. I want you to send that to me. We’re running out of time. But that’s what keeps you excited about what you do when you change someone’s cerebellum, you change their life. Stay with us. When we come back, we’re going to talk about more stories about how the interactive metronome might help you. Post one thing you learned on any of your social media sites. We’re so excited. The Brain Warrior’s Way podcast listed as one of the all time, best podcasts on Apple podcasts. And if you leave us a comment question or review at Brain Warrior’s Way, podcast.com, we’ll enter you into a raffle to win either the brain Warrior’s way cookbook, or The End Of Mental Illness, stay with us.
Tana Amen, BSN RN: If you’re enjoying The Brain Warrior’s Way podcast, please don’t forget to subscribe, so you’ll always know when there’s a new episode. And while you’re at it, feel free to give us a review or five star rating as that helps others find the podcast.
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