Almost two years ago, I fell off a ladder and suffered a third grade concussion, a.k.a. mild-traumatic brain injury (TBI). To say the injury turned my whole world upside down would be putting it mildly. It’s not called a “traumatic” brain injury for nothing. The fact that I also suffered from blurred and doubled vision for a year further complicated matters, but I was absolutely thrilled when I finally overcame the visual issues with the assistance of a Federal Way neuro-optometrist named Dr. Curtis Baxstrom.

As a result of my own research, I learned that while most parties realize a full recovery from a mild-TBI within six months it can often take as long as a year for those of us over the age of 40. I couldn’t imagine enduring the personal hell I was going through the first couple of months for as long as six months, let alone a year, but once I accepted the facts I settled in for a much longer ride than originally anticipated.

I’ve written previous articles concerning the details of this journey so I won’t rehash those here. I’ll just add that while the vast majority of those who know me viewed me as fully recovered at the one-year mark, I know that even now almost two years later I’m still not quite all the way back. But, I’m thankful to say I’m now very darn close.

In my efforts to achieve a full recovery, I’ve been very open-minded in terms of possible solutions. But, there’s probably nothing I’ve done that will sound any crazier than the subject of this article and it’s called Brainwave Optimization®.


I first heard of brainwave optimization, and a service provider named Sound Brain in Gig Harbor, five to six months ago from a good friend. His daughter had been suffering from Post Concussive Syndrome for two years as a result of suffering two consecutive sports-related concussions within the space of a couple of weeks. They’d been hearing very good things about the results and decided to give it a try.

Of course, I was anxious to hear about her experience and pleased to learn that she felt it had done her a world of good. It wasn’t too long afterward that I had an opportunity to solicit further feedback from her concerning her experience and she had nothing but good things to say about her experience and the benefits she’d realized.

At the same time, I was able to speak with her boyfriend, who had also received the treatment. He was a college football player who had to give up the sport as a result of multiple concussions, and he’d suffered from anxiety for some time.

Given that I had suffered from anxiety after my own injury, he really increased my interest when he told me that as far away a life free of anxiety seemed to him prior to receiving the treatment, that was how difficult it was for him to know imagine suffering from anxiety.

But, before proceeding I decided to do a little research on my own. Fortunately, Lee Gerdes, the originator of the treatment, has written a fascinating easy-to-read book on the subject ‑ ‘Limitless You. The Infinite Possibilities of a Balanced Brain.’

The author had been a long-time sufferer of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and among the more beneficial therapies he’d tried were biofeedback and neurofeedback. He took what he learned about those therapies, along with his own knowledge of quantum mechanics and sophisticated computer technology, to take it a step further with brainwave optimization.

Gerdes describes it as training the brain by enabling it to become its own mirror, and says it’s similar to what people have practiced for thousands of years through meditation.

“The point of meditation is to enable the brain to quiet itself,” Gerdes says. “As the brain becomes calmer in some way it is then able to rebalance itself. Instead of clinging to the disturbed patterns it established long ago, it begins adjusting itself to reflect the optimal state.”

I don’t have any experience with the use of meditation and suspect that like many others it would take me some time to become very good at it. But, my take on brainwave optimization is that it’s an excellent alternative and quite likely much more effective.

Gerdes maintains that as a result of advancements in technology, brainwave optimization is able to help the brain see itself in an optimized state much easier and faster than we are able to accomplish through meditation.

What follows may be a little more technical than some will care for, but I think it’s necessary to provide a little more background and understanding about brainwave optimization. So, I’m going to share a bit more to explain it before I go into my own experience with it thus far.

Gerdes says that during brain training, the brain’s own balanced and harmonized wave patterns are fed back to it so that it can observe itself in a balance state.

“How is the brain shown its own electrical patterns?” Gerdes asks. “The brain runs on tiny voltages of electricity. A brainwave is electromagnetic energy that can be broken down into frequencies. We measure energy by measuring the peaks and valleys in its modulation (movement) which we refer to as frequency. The number of peaks and valleys that occur each second are measured in a unit of measurement called hertz.

“To feed the brain’s own optimal wave patterns back to it noninvasively, we have to access it through the ears in the form of sound that is transmitted through stereo headphones.

“They key to producing that sound turned out to be the development of a set of algorithms that translate brain function to sound in real time. Before the brain’s frequencies can be useful to itself, calculations must be carried out that translate the frequencies to a fraction of a hertz. The result is that when the electrodes detect frequency changes in a person’s brain, the frequency changes identically in their ears as well.

“When the brain hears the transmitted sounds, it says to itself, ‘I’m doing that!’ and changes in the neural network begin to occur. Connections that were formed at one time to protect us during periods of extreme stress or trauma, but that no longer serve us well, seem either to disconnect themselves, or become non-dominant. Earlier, healthier connections then begin to create a dominant pattern.

“As a result, the energy of the brain flows along more beneficial pathways than when it flowed along pathways that were useful at one particular time (for example immediately after a traumatic event) but now limit us

“Let me state all of this more simply: When a person’s brain is being trained, all that the training is really doing is building up a mirror in the form of sound to reflect how an unbalanced brain looks at a particular moment in contrast to how a balanced brain might look. During the process of mirroring, an amazing thing happens. The brain not only recognizes that its hearing its own patterns in the sound it is receiving, it gravitates toward the more balanced pattern that is being provided. Then it adjusts itself until it achieves a flexibility and balance overall.

“When we show the brain itself, it knows where to adjust itself because it recognizes where the electrodes are placed. Not only is there a small device on the skin in a specific place to advise it, the brain energy that is translated into sound originates from that specific place. Other parts of the brain then balance themselves according to the new balance achieved in the stress specified under the electrodes.

“In other words, brain training allows the brain to see itself in an optimized state. It sees only the optimized patterns and gravitates toward these patterns, establishing them as its own dominant patterns. It then recognizes that this is in fact its natural state. It is attracted toward this optimized state like iron filings to a magnet.”

The following website will provide additional information and explanation which may prove useful in terms of gaining a better understanding of the technology: .

Now remember, I said this might sound a little out there. But I’ve been very driven to achieve a full recovery, and I’ve done an awful lot of personal research. As a result, I’ve been open to many things I never would have considered in the past. And the more I read and learned about brainwave optimization the more it made sense to me.

One of the subjects I’ve learned a lot about over the past two years is sensory processing. For quite a while after my accident, I had a very difficult time with complex visual environments like supermarkets, malls, airport terminals, crowded basketball gyms, etc.

Ultimately, I learned that following a head injury once can suffer from a loss of sensory filtering capabilities. When our systems are working the way they should be, we have an ability to filter out redundant stimuli. But, after suffering a head injury one can suddenly find themselves incapable of doing so and easily become overwhelmed by too much sensory input.

The experience of entering a supermarket is a prime example. One is surrounded by aisle after aisle of input in the way of seemingly bazillions of products. At the same time, you have to process your own movement as well as the movement of others around you. Once you add all the fluorescent lighting and noises to the mix, it can very quickly become a personal hell for someone suffering from any kind of sensory processing dysfunction.

In my own case, there were a number of months when I found it extremely difficult to deal with going into a store like that. I very quickly became a bit disoriented, or dizzy. I couldn’t wait to get back out to the car where I could sit down and close my eyes for a few minutes. I encountered many situations like that throughout the day for many months.

Thankfully, as time went on and the healing process continued it became easier and easier for me to deal with those type of environments.

I resumed playing basketball with a group of men 10 months ago, and when I first got back out there I felt like I was in the middle of a freeway while trying to coordinate my own movement with nine other bodies flying around me. Frankly, just remaining upright the whole time was challenging for me.

Initially, I couldn’t complete a full game without becoming a bit dizzy or disoriented. So, I’d play a game, sit until a felt better, and then give it another go. After many months, I reached a point where I could play a number of games in a row and little by little the dizziness has dissipated. Three weeks ago, I experienced no dizziness/disorientation whatsoever for the first time in two years. It returned a bit the following week, but I’m very encouraged by the ongoing progress.

Gerdes includes a chapter concerning traumatic brain injury (TBI) in his book, and says that it produces a severe imbalance in brainwave energy. Additionally, he writes that due to the malfunctioning of the brain environment caused by the blow, it may require many weeks before the extent of the damage can be determined.

I couldn’t agree more with that last statement. Immediately after my own accident, I was convinced my only problem was the blurred and doubled vision issues I was suffering from. But, a few weeks later I began to experience a number of post concussive symptoms such as extreme sensitivity to light, brain fogginess, fatigue and would go on to experience a number of others in various combinations over the next year.

Gerdes goes on to explain that a TBI leaves an imbalance in the autonomic nervous system, and that with severe stress, particularly at the time of injury, the brain shifts into either a freeze response or a fight-or-flight response. If a freeze state remains dominant after a TBI, the result can be depression, dizziness or lightheadedness, decreased clarity of thought, confusion, difficulty organizing thoughts, fatigue, etc.

A fight-or-flight state can result in hypervigilance, nervousness, panic attacks, and anxiety amongst a host of other issues.

He says that for the brain to work well, it should be in a balanced state.

“In such a state, Gerdes says, “neither the sympathetic nervous system nor the parasympathetic dominates. The left and right hemispheres of the brain function in tandem.”

Once I’d finished the book, I decided to give brainwave optimization a try. So, I phoned Lee Burki of Sound Brain in Gig Harbor and scheduled some sessions to take place over a weekend this past May.

When I met with Lee at Sound Brain, he told me that he viewed his services as sort of a last resort for those parties who were suffering from long-term issues following a head injury. He shared his view that every head injury is different in terms of the mechanics, how one handles it, the brains response, and ones’ ability to function during the experience. He told me that at least half his clients are individuals who are suffering from complications as a result of a blow, or blows, to the head.

Lee first learned of brainwave optimization while doing personal research in an effort help his son Troy recover from the effects of multiple concussions. He was so impressed with the results that both he and his son became certified with Brain State Technologies and opened Sound Brain in Gig Harbor.

Lee’s work with me began with an assessment to evaluate my brain in various states to provide input that would be used to determine the protocols for the brain training.

The assessment involved the use of electrodes that were placed in specific locations on my head while I performed various activities and he recorded my brainwave activity in each of those areas.

As the assessment progressed, Lee told me I was in the right place and should realize a number of changes in the weeks ahead following the treatment. I don’t remember a lot of details concerning the assessment, but I recall that one of the exercises called for me to repeat long sequences of random numbers immediately after Lee read them to me. He said I had scored exceptionally well ‑ in the top one percent for that particular exercise. Upon completion of the assessment, his general feedback was that I had a Ferrari brain that was badly in need of a tune up. I subsequently completed eight hours of treatment over the weekend.

Being a curious sort, I asked Lee if I could come back later and have him explain the specifics of the measurements he took during that initial assessment and over the course of the treatment.  He was kind enough to agree to my proposal.

When we met two months later, Lee explained that the primary purpose of brain training is to achieve balance between the left and right hemispheres of the brain as well as the autonomic nervous system. He told me the brain is central command and runs the show in the body.

Ideally we should see left side hemisphere brain dominance in temporal region in the range of 5-12 percent, he said, but mine was 170 percent dominant during the assessment, or “pretty screwed up” in his words.

A left side dominance of that nature is associated with the aforementioned freeze state. Lee went on to explain that a person with left side dominance at low frequencies in the frontal poles would think they are worse than they are and that would contribute to higher anxiety levels.

Yeah, that sounded like me.

Furthermore, he explained that frontal poles react very quickly and can change from day-to-day depending on the significance of the environmental stimulus. But, we also typically have conditioned patterns in terms of our responses.

Lee told me that when you look at brain frequencies, it provides some indication of a person’s history, and taking readings from the temporal lobes will often provide a hint of any past trauma.

In my case, when looking at the measurement produced from the temporal lobes from low frequencies he said he would suspect the result was produced by someone who had experienced some trauma early in life, perhaps under the age of five or ten.

Well, I don’t know what that could have been in my own case. The only thing I can remember that may qualify is falling off an embankment around age seven and landing forehead first on the edge of a cement step. I know that produced a deep cut and resulted in a long taxi ride to the hospital where I subsequently received 15 stiches. Who knows?

He concluded the discussion concerning brain frequency levels by telling me that when I walked in on day one, I was very left side dominant in high range frequencies and right side dominant in the low frequency range, or what he termed “loosely referred to as chaos.”

When he performs an assessment, he looks at what’s most out of balance. He then focuses his efforts there, in terms of where to next place the sensors, what frequency range to use, the length of the sessions, and how many to schedule.

As Lee explained it to me, it’s based upon science but there is also an art to it as he adjusts his plan for subsequent sessions to a degree based upon the measurement produced by the current session.

Since it was determined during the assessment that I was so left side dominant and stuck in a freeze state, the primary focus of his work was on getting me out of that mode and from his perspective that was the biggest benefit I received from the treatment.

My conclusion is that the treatment was very beneficial and like the other parties I’d spoken to who received it I won’t hesitate to suggest it to anyone else who may be suffering long-term symptoms from a head injury.

Gerdes suggests that brain training can prove beneficial for many other issues as well. For example, anyone suffering from trauma, PTSD, anxiety or depression, dysfunctional behavior, sleep disorders, stroke, etc… And it’s not difficult to find numerous testimonials on-line to back that up.

It will be very interesting to learn where this goes in the years ahead. We’re living in a time where much more is being learned about the human brain and there are many new treatment options available. Some of them have already become mainstream while others such as brainwave optimization are still relatively new and not yet well known.

As I’ve learned myself, it pays to do a lot of research and become your own advocate.