It is a joy and an honor to have you join me now in this presentation. I’m Jasmina J. Agrillo. I’m a Licensed HeartMath Provider, a Certified Brain Injury Specialist; and I am also a brain tumor survivor. I have coached many brain injured clients using the HeartMath System and technology. I am also currently writing a Handbook to Brain Injury Recovery using the HeartMath System.

This presentation will be focused in three parts – the first will be centered on my recovery story and how I came to join HeartMath. In the second part I will define what brain injury is, give some statistics in support of the need and importance of advocacy, education, funding and rehabilitative support for the survivors and caregivers.

In the third part I will talk in detail of how I work with clients from severe to mild brain injury and how they have benefited. I will also share what the brain injury client needs in the feedback skill of the practitioner to encourage the recovery process. I will end the talk with contact and support information for survivors and caregivers.

I invite you now to go on a journey with me into the “heart of brain injury recovery. As we go along our journey in this hour—imagine if you would–what it might be like to have a brain injury–You wake up and find that who you once were physically, mentally, emotionally is all changed. Your life situation, your occupation doesn’t fit, your loved ones seem like strangers. What once was is now dead. Yet you’re still alive! You’re starting over again with challenges you never dreamed you’d have or know if you even have the capability to meet those challenges. You need the love and support of others like you’ve never needed it before. Who are you now? What kind of intelligence are you going to live by? How will you live this intelligence to create a whole new life?

This is the day to day, moment to moment, journey of brain injury recovery! Although every person’s recovery is unique—and the recovery issues may vary in severity—still—the journey is the same.

Never in my wildest imaginings did I ever think I would go on this journey! It just wasn’t in my life plan…

On March 5, 2001 I was operated on for the removal of a very large brain tumor. At that time I was a wife, a mother to a 5 year old boy, Ian, and simultaneously developing 2 careers-teaching yoga/ meditation mind-body stress reduction techniques and producing and selling my sculptures. My husband, Phil, was a gifted, hardworking carpenter/contractor.

About a year before finally collapsing at home from an undiagnosed brain tumor I had begun experiencing myself physically, emotionally, and mentally as “falling apart.” My symptoms included terrible headaches that were causing visual disturbances, coordination and balance problems, mood swings and irrational thinking and behavior.

During the next year my symptoms worsened as I visited several doctors who failed to diagnose the source of my debilitating symptoms. Finally one day I was unable to walk and began loosing some vision. At the Emergency Room an attending physician ordered a CT scan. I then met my neurosurgeon who informed me that I had a very large frontal lobe bi-lateral meningioma brain tumor and I was immediately transferred to Maine Medical Center to prepare for emergency surgery within a few days. After studying the results of my MRI and cerebral angiogram my neurosurgeon informed me that the tumor was slightly bigger than a lemon and intersected a main artery in 3 locations. The surgery could be long and complicated.

In the precious little time I had to adjust to the diagnosis-possible death by one or more strokes in the surgery-and the knowledge that the structural and cognitive changes that would happen to my brain as a result of the surgery could be permanent. As I was facing the possibility of my own death, I was also thinking “what’s it going to be like if I live? Isn’t brain intelligence everything, what we rely on, what we know?” I prayed that I be allowed to live, to get a second chance for a whole new life!

The surgery was very successful. However, nothing could have prepared me for the debilitation of brain recovery. I had turned into an adult baby overnight. I faced many physical and cognitive challenges. In the physical I had coordination/balance problems that were further complicated by seizures. In acute recovery there was the constant pain as the ear to ear incision and neural tissue healed, drug side effects, dizziness, sleeplessness, and fatigue to cope with. Attention deficit, short -term memory loss, speech and language difficulties, and impulse control were my cognitive challenges. I was also deeply, traumatized by the fear, uncertainty and suffering from not being diagnosed for a year and the adult baby I found myself to be after surgery. And just like a baby I needed to be nourished by love and care from others. I am not able to convey to you the full devastating impact this had on my family.

Sometimes when something really catastrophic happens to us, in our greatest moments of despair and suffering we instinctively know that there is a place inside ourselves that is love – the connection to our intuitive wisdom heart. I instinctively knew that I had to consciously connect to that part of my being and that my survival depended on it.

I chose people, places, activities that anchored the experience of joy, care and hope in the new life I was rebuilding. It became important to me to live a life of real care for myself.

As I was coming out of the acute phase of recovery the question remained for me, “Is there some way I can learn to use this intuitive heart connection to gain more control of the natural healing processes of my brain and body?”

I was first introduced to the work of HeartMath, in 1998 when I attended a lecture by a well- known neuro-scientist and educator, Joseph Chilton Pierce. He talked about some exciting research in stress reduction from the Institute of HeartMath regarding the role of the physical heart in balancing the nervous system and affecting brain function; and how the HeartMath folks had developed heart based stress reduction tools. Many people in case studies were showing significant improvements in their health, well-being and quality of life. Although I was thrilled at the new possibility and direction this could take me in my practice and teaching, I realized that it was not the right time for me to pursue this further because of other commitments.

At ten months into recovery, January 2001, I seemed to have reached a plateau in my cognitive recovery and was thinking
that my brain had healed as much as it could. It was then that I began practicing the HeartMath System.

I learned to use techniques that combine heart focus, breath, and positive emotion to create a balanced physiology that is referred to as ‘coherence’. With a tool called Quick Coherence® I was able to feel good in the moment, a state I could achieve anytime and place. It was almost like a magic pill! This was especially appealing to me because it was easy to do and non drug related.

By learning to send feelings that create coherence into my body while breathing through my heart, I was able to gain more control of my physiology than I ever had before. To help me do this I used the emWave PC software program that allowed me to see in real time the changing rhythms of my heart. I learned to produce more smooth and coherent (balanced) heart rhythms which signaled all parts of my brain and nervous system to operate in sync. This had a tremendous impact on how my brain functioned. The effects were immediate. I felt more peaceful, calm, focused and clear thinking — no small thing in brain injury recovery!

Regular practice of sustaining heart coherence helped me to maintain a balance in my physiology over a longer period of time. This helped stabilize my brain, enabling it to heal faster while I stayed more mentally and emotionally balanced. I even gained pain control. Over time, under the guidance of my neurologist, I was able to wean off seizure medications and pain meds for migraines.

My heart coherence practice proved to be highly effective when applied to my rehabilitation strategies! The first month into my heart tools practice I noticed cognitive improvement in my ability to stay focused and remember incoming information.

By learning to intentionally focus on a positive heart feeling such as care, love, compassion and appreciation I was able to gain a, healthy, balanced, caring perspective and to act on it.

My practice of heart coherence also helped me cope emotionally and psychologically through the stages of brain recovery. I learned to release lingering feelings of grief, regret, self judgment, frustration, resentment. I learned how to use a different kind of intelligence to help heal my brain and build a whole new life.

At my 1 year recovery evaluation with my neurosurgeon in March, 2oo2, I felt hopeful and affirming about continued success in my rehabilitation. My husband and I were discussing how the heart based stress management techniques were making a significant difference in my recovery. After seeing how amazingly well I was recovering my neurosurgeon commented. “Do you know how lucky you are to be having this recovery? Even though this wasn’t cancer it was still very serious. I was very concerned that if you survived acute recovery, the physical and cognitive deficits would be severe. You know, I can quote statistics about probability of recovery, but from what we know medically, the healing of the brain is still a mystery. I do know your brain is now more sensitive to having a seizure than the normal brain. If you hope to remain off seizure meds then it’s really important that you manage your stress for the rest of your life. So go for it! Rewire that neural circuitry! With the best possible recovery you may have some reminders. So what! Maybe that’s not so bad.”

My cognitive recovery has been most profound and successful. It has been exciting and like a miracle to experience the re-wiring of my neural circuitry – almost like I grew another brain! I have re-gained full use of all my cognitive functions. I have a new normal now. I have made peace with my past and the person I am today. With a lot of appreciation and gratitude, I am able to help others manage stress and live a life of care.

When I get incoherent and feeling my deficits as we all do it’s a reminder to bring in the heart’s power to love. Brain injury recovery has been my greatest challenge and my greatest gift!

I know not all brain injured people will be able to experience what I have, however my experience convinces me that using these tools will always be beneficial. HeartMath stress management techniques are beneficial because they have a positive impact in dealing with all the issues of brain injury recovery! They are also just as beneficial to help support the caregivers in meeting the stress and demand of caring for the brain injured loved one.

It’s important for us to honor our daily achievements in recovery and to love and appreciate the gift of who we are becoming. Every recovery is unique and special!

Now I’ll talk about….
What is brain injury?
Also known as Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), a brain injury is damage to the brain caused by external force. Common occurrences of TBIs happen in motor vehicle accidents, falls, gunshot wounds, workplace injuries, sport injuries, assaults for example shaken baby syndrome, child abuse, domestic violence and military actions.

In 1997, the Brain Injury Association of America redefined the definition of Traumatic Brain Injury to that of Acquired brain injury. This definition is more comprehensive to include not just injuries caused by external force to the head, but includes internal injuries to the brain. The expanded definition now includes injuries to the brain as caused by encephalitis, meningitis, ‘chemo brain’ from chemotherapy treatments, anoxia (loss of oxygen as can occur during cardiac arrest or near drowning), metabolic disorders (such as insulin shock, diabetic coma, liver and kidney disease), poisoning, brain tumors, strokes and seizure disorders.

A person with a brain injury may experience impairments on multi levels of functioning. Physical impairments can include speech, seizure disorders, hearing, vision, and other sensory losses. An individual may show partial or severe lack of coordination, balance, muscle tone, and movement including paralysis.

Cognitive impairments can include changes in thinking and reasoning skill and diminished learning ability. Depending on the severity of the injury, various degrees of problems may exist in long and short-term, memory, attention, concentration, and communication skills, planning, problem solving, and abstract reasoning.

Emotional and behavioral impairments may include sleep disorders, mood swings, restlessness, lack of energy, anxiety, depression, inappropriate behavior, inability to self-monitor, low self-esteem, poor emotional control, lack of motivation, and difficulty relating to others.

There are many definitions to describe the severity of a brain injury. These definitions are often classified into 3 levels: mild, moderate, and severe brain injury.

These clinical medical definitions do not describe the degree of challenge and the human capacity to heal that a person will experience in brain injury recovery. It’s important for the survivors and caregivers to be realistic about the impairments yet at the same time to live in hope. We survivors live for the “New Normal” we are always becoming!

Did You Know?
That brain injury is called the “Silent Epidemic”? Brain Trauma has remained largely unknown by the American public. The statistics are staggering. Current data from the Centers of Disease Control show, 1.4 million people sustain a TBI in the US each year. In addition, 5.3 million are living with a disability resulting from a TBI. The number of newly occurring injuries plus the number of existing injuries is greater than the number of people with Breast Cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, Spinal Cord Injury, and HIV/AIDS combined.

A recent article published in the New England Journal of Medicine (May 19, 2005, pp.2043-2047) suggested that TBI is associated with a larger proportion of casualties in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan than in other recent wars. One figure indicates 22% of all war non-fatal casualties sustain a brain injury. The type of injury often sustained by soldiers are blast injuries. Blast injuries can be very disabling and may require life long rehabilitative support.

A brain injury can happen anytime to anyone. It is also the leading cause of disability and death for young people in the United States. Let me repeat that! It is also the leading cause of disability and death for young people in the United States. From the acute, to long term, rehabilitation care required in brain injury –the costs are staggering! Traumatic brain injuries cost more than 56.3 billion annually. The Brain Injury Association of America estimates only 5% of individuals requiring long term rehabilitation have adequate funding to receive that care.
Brain injury, the silent epidemic, is a major public problem that has significant consequences for the survivors, care-givers and our society. It is no small challenge living with the aftermath. Survivors face the challenge of returning to daily activities while coping with physical limitations, memory loss, organizational difficulties, speech and language problems and personality changes.

All this said, the importance of learning self empowering techniques and strategies to help manage, transform and heal the stress of brain injury recovery in daily life can not be overstated. It is a tremendously valuable gift we can offer – to teach a brain injury survivor an easy to use stress management technique to feel better and manage recovery in the moment and long term. That’s where the practice of the Quick Coherence Technique on the emWave PC & personal stress reliever can have a significant impact. In our hearts we survivors want to feel well enough to be functioning members in our community in any way we can. We long to be accepted and included in the community for the new normal we are.

So now I’ll share with you my approaches, protocols, and results in working with brain injured clients using the Quick Coherence technique on the emWave PC & PSR programs. I have changed the names to protect the privacy of the clients whose case studies I will share…

The person I am calling Tom, was the victim of an assault in which he had severe trauma to the head and was left for dead. He spent months in a rehabilitation hospital. His category of open head injury was severe on all levels of functioning. He was in his second year of recovery when I met him at a presentation I did for a brain injury support group. I was impressed by his sincerity and passionate desire to do whatever he could to rehabilitate himself. He lived on disability which is very common with moderate to severe recoveries.

On my first session I do an intake, establish realistic goals of my clients choosing and begin heart coherence training on the emWave if the client is ready. Tom was on medication to treat anxiety and insomnia and a pre-existing hallucinatory condition.

Tom’s goals were to use coherence in his daily functioning to help relieve anxiety, to help his attention, memory and reading comprehension, and have more clarity in making decisions.
After giving a simple explanation of what heart coherence is and how it can help him I began teaching him the first 2 steps of the Quick Coherence technique.

Generally, in working with brain injured clients I don’t overwhelm them with too many steps, too much audio and visual information in one session. We take things slowly, a step at a time, stopping to re-focus, repeat, and re-clarify as often as necessary for understanding and practice. I go at my clients pace and readiness. As a clinician I welcome, and rely on my client’s feedback to let me know what works and what doesn’t and how we can work to make it better. I remain upbeat and positive, and celebrate any efforts at practice in even the smallest gains. Brain injury recovery can be a major assault to one’s confidence and self identity and I’m very mindful of that. I am mindful of my own coherence in session and do the best I can to create a coherent environment for my client.

To help Tom understand and practice the first step of Quick Coherence, Heart Focus, we talked about the heart connection as the place we feel loving, caring feelings. Closing his eyes, placing his hand on his heart, and feeling its pulsing presence helped him focus his attention there.

The remainder of our first session was focused on establishing a slower more rhythmic breathing pattern which Tom responded to very well. He was able to make the heart-brain connection, noticing that he felt less anxiety and stress in his body, calmer and able to think more clearly. He liked the feeling of being in a calm neutral feeling place. It gave him a feeling of having more control when so much of his brain injury deficits were beyond his control. Tom was excited to go home and look up the word neutral in the dictionary.

In his recovery he is challenged by speech and language difficulties which can take on many forms following a brain injury. He had some impairment in word-finding abilities, tended to repeat words and phrases, disorganized spoken and written communication, and incomplete or incoherent expression of thoughts. He works hard at re-learning the meaning and context of words. Many times during our sessions I had to cue him to stay focused and get re-organized in his thoughts.

To help his brain retain the steps of the Quick Coherence technique he needed to say it, write it and read it in his notebook which he carries with him at all times. It’s like his second brain. To compensate for memory problems cueing devices are helpful.

As an add-on to teaching coherence on the emWave PC and PSR, I include the Transforming Stress book by Debbie Rozman and Doc Childre. I have had wonderful responses from everyone who has read it. Although his reading comprehension was slow Tom was capable of reading sections of the book at a time. Highlighting text with a favorite colored marker as he read helped him remember and absorb the information.

Tom reported on his second session that he practices getting Neutral a lot during the day and its becoming a habit. His anxiety is better, he feels calmer, and he’s sleeping better. The cue cards were very helpful to remind him to practice—he posted them around his apartment. He said that getting neutral was like praying, he felt more connected to God. Tom noticed how getting neutral can help him have more objectivity in stressful situations. He had an LSD flashback episode since his last session. When previously an LSD flashback episode could bring on an anxiety attack, in practicing neutral he was able to observe the episode with detachment and remain calm throughout.

Our focus for the third session was to learn the third step of the Quick Coherence technique which is bringing in the heart feeling.

At our fourth session Tom indicated that he was ready to practice getting coherent on the emWave PC! It was a challenge for him because of his attention deficit issues to look at the HRV pattern and get coherent. The audio feedback is often a disturbance to a brain injured client with sound sensitivity and attention issues. I often introduce the audio feedback when coherence is established. He preferred to not have it at all. Considering all the challenges he was able to get 20% high coherence in less than 5 minutes!

One of my goals in working with him was to help him develop his awareness of shifting from a stressful feeling to a positive feeling and how that changes a situation for the better. Tom’s embarrassed feelings about being judged for his brain injury deficits often prevented him from communicating with others and getting the help and information he needs. He often misses going on favorite outings because of this. He was very excited to tell me that this time he recognized his embarrassed feeling, moved through it by getting neutral and was able to make the call to get information about a special outing. Recognizing this shift gave him the confidence to do it again when the embarrassing feeling came up. He became so successful that he was able to advocate for himself and get the speech and language rehabilitation he very much needed.

By Tom’s seventh session, he was able to maintain coherence on the Balloon Game while listening to the music, an indication that his multi-tasking attention deficit issues were improving! Gaining more control of his attention issues seemed to be the gateway to using coherence to help improve his memory.

In subsequent sessions Tom would practice sustaining coherence hooked up to the emWave PC while playing memory games with a deck of cards. Dr. David Perlmutter’s number sequencing games from his Better Brain book was very helpful for helping him improve his memory over time with practice. I highly recommend that book and his software program for improving mental acuity and memory.

He would also practice coherence on the emWave PC while reading and highlighting passages from the Transforming Stress book, and then summarizing what he understood. He then began practicing coherence during his day to help him remember directions, phone numbers, and street signs.

At his fifteenth session eight months in our work together, he reported noticing his memory, speech and language deficits were improving. Using attitude cues along with coherence such as “slow down” while listening to conversations helps him remember and understand what is being said.

Appreciating himself and his accomplishments became part of his daily coherence practice. His ability to think more clearly and make decisions was getting better. He felt confident enough to consider vocational rehabilitation. Many times during our sessions together, Tom, mentioned how he wished he could pay me more because I am helping him learn to do things that will help him for the rest of his life. Our pro-bono arrangement, so as not to create a feeling of “owing someone”, was that he would pay me something for his sessions, even if it was only 5 dollars which it sometimes was. I reassured him many times that he is helping me help others in our work together. Today, Tom would be pleased to know that!

When I met, the person I am calling Sally, at a Brain Injury support group presentation in a rehabilitation facility, she was 4 plus years into recovery. My impression of her was that here is a beautiful, radiant, being full of light—like a star! She volunteered for the group to experience the emWave PC. After experiencing the potential of how it can help her, she was eager to begin working with me.

Sally’s brain injury happened in the summer of 1999 as a result of a car accident. She was injured in her left temporal lobe, which is the area of the brain that processes memory, hearing, understanding language, organization & sequencing. This was a mild, closed head injury that didn’t show visible signs in MRI testing at the hospital. She was therefore released not knowing she had a brain injury. This is not unusual—there is a great need for brain injury education and awareness among health care professionals at every level.

Her main brain injury deficits were: fatigue, attention deficit, planning/organization, problem solving, and anxiety about her condition. She also had sensorimotor impairments as seizures, sound and light sensitivity, dizziness and balance problems. After several months of not being able to function very well in her life and work, she sought rehabilitation and learned in her neuro-psyche evaluation that she had a brain injury. ln her HeartMath sessions with me, she hoped to improve all those symptoms and her ability to cope with them.

Prior to her brain injury, she was a professional classical musician and singer. Because of her sensitivity to sound she had to give up a great love—music. The main goal in her sessions which we both agreed upon was to use the coherent state along with the Quiet Joy music to de-sensitize her reactions to sound enough for her to return to even a little music practice. To describe her neurological reactions to sound—it feels like a short circuit happens somewhere left temporal lobe, always in the same spot, accompanied by anxiety, extreme fatigue, and sometimes myoclonic seizures. Myoclonic seizures are sudden, brief contractions of muscle groups which produce rapid, jerky movements in one or more extremities.

She was on an anti-seizure med and an anti-depressant med to control this condition. Controlling the condition doesn’t always prevent the seizures but lessens the number of occurrences. She was stable on her medication dose. Day to day she copes with this condition by wearing ear plugs.

Knowing that Sally enjoys being on the emWave PC, My approach at this first session was to help her to maintain a performance level of coherence listening to the music, while I monitored her response on the emWave PC. She did a milestone that day. Sally, practiced getting coherent on the emWave in silence first and then with the music. During her training session she had a myoclonic seizure which registered as incoherence on the HRV pattern. It was necessary to repeatedly guide her through the Quick Coherence steps during the seizure. This helped her to dis-identify with the anxiety and let the seizure pass with less wear and tear on her brain and body. As she was moving through the seizure episode she also cried tears of emotional release. During the episode this was the first time she was able to not be overwhelmed with anxiety and be more calm and balanced while having a seizure. Let me repeat that! During the episode this was the first time she was able to not be overwhelmed with anxiety and be more calm and balanced while having a seizure.

After the 15 minute heart coherence training session on the emWave PC, Sally was very fatigued and needed a cool down rest period to move into a quiet deeper relaxation response. This recovery rest period took about 35 minutes before she was able to drive home. Normally, recovery from a seizure episode would take hours of lying on the couch with her earplugs in. Before leaving my office she said, “This is powerful stuff!”

At her second session a week later she was noticing the effect her heart coherence practice was having on her brain injury symptoms. For the first time since her injury she was able to tolerate more noise/sound than previously. The entire session was focused sustaining coherence on the emWave PC HRV screen while listening to the Quiet Joy music. The rest period was slightly shorter this time. She was now ready to challenge the sound sensitivity a little more.

At her fourth session, Sally, was able to listen to the music while sustaining coherence on the Balloon Game without an incidence of myoclonic seizure. The rest period following coherence training was now 20 minutes.

Sally came into her sixth session in a celebratory mood. She successfully intervened in real time to stop the stress reaction of her brain in a challenging situation. After having managed to drive through a snow storm, she went into performance fatigue while shopping at a store. Her Quick Coherence practice stopped the stress reaction in her brain and she was able to stay emotionally and cognitively clear and energized until she got home. This kind of brain injury fatigue can make it unsafe for her to drive home, and she would have had to call someone to come get her.

Sally came into her seventh session with exciting news for me. She has begun practicing classical music on the violin without earplugs! This is the first time she has practiced in two years after failing miserably in that attempt. She also had a practice Christmas carol session with her former concert partner, and plans to have voice sessions in a month to retrain her high soprano voice.

Sally, came into her ninth session with more milestones of accomplishment! She went grocery shopping and didn’t need her earplugs. She attended a concert which was the first time in years. Also of significance she was seeing how long she can go without her earplugs when she is doing errands and activities outside of the controlled environment of her home.

During her sustaining coherence session, instead of just tolerating the dizziness she was able to as she described “smooth the waves of dizziness” from her brain.

Part of the recovery process involves grieving the losses, of what will never be again as a result of the brain injury. This is followed by gradual acceptance of the new normal one is becoming as skills are learned for living in the new life. This is not a linear process. It’s cyclical. Particularly, as goals are achieved, and the possibilities of the new life are stirred up, then emotions of grief and anxiety are stirred up also. Sally, in a short period of time had been achieving milestones in her recovery goals, and she was now experiencing much stored and current emotions of grief and anxiety.

Our final work together was for, Sally, to learn how to use heart coherence to help this natural process. She did! She learned to acknowledge the grief and anxiety and to use additional HeartMath tools to find emotional balance. Gradually new levels of love, acceptance and understanding emerge.

On her tenth session, at 6 months, Sally was ready to be on her own with her heart coherence practice. One doesn’t often get an epilogue with a client. Today, Sally is actively teaching music lessons, performing, and is a star of hope unto others—a support group leader in the brain injury community.

On a cold, rainy, December night in ‘2005’, the person I am calling, Mark, a police officer, experienced a brain injury as a result of his work. He lost consciousness for a brief period of time, and had post traumatic amnesia for less than 24 hours. His persistent post concussion symptoms included: headache, dizziness, sleep disturbance, irritability, changes in personality, memory problems, depression, difficulty in problem solving, and diminished attention span. The mild brain injury he sustained was a life altering event—he could no longer serve as a police officer in his pre-injury capacity.

In his tenth month of recovery he was referred to me by an osteopathic physician. Mark already was receiving high quality traditional rehabilitative care that was covered by his Workmen Compensation Insurance policy. For the best possible outcome in recovery, an ideal situation is one in which the brain injury survivor has access to getting rehabilitative care in a multi-disciplinary approach. The insurance company was eager to get him rehabilitated and so the emWave PC and my sessions were fully covered as stress management feedback techniques.

At our very first session Mark was able to practice getting coherent on the emWave PC without difficulty, which he purchased to begin practicing at home. His goal was to learn to integrate the steps of Quick Coherence to manage and transform his post concussive stresses as they affected his daily life.

By now I hope you have a sense of what my protocols, approaches, are in coaching clients practicing heart coherence on the emWave technology and the potential to signicantly affect the brain injury recovery process. I’ll focus more, instead, on the results Mark experienced during the six months, which included 8 coaching sessions that we worked together.

Here is what Mark has to say in an interview with me about how HeartMath techniques have helped him in recovery:

1. What specific benefits physically, cognitively, emotionally, & spiritually (quality of life) have you been experiencing with the HeartMath tools?
“It has helped me control my stress and control pain. My TBI was a very stressful and life altering event. HeartMath allowed me to feel positive emotions.
“Using the HeartMath techniques I am able to be more attentive for longer periods of time. I have the ability to remember many more things than I had before. It has helped me through many projects that I would have otherwise not been able to accomplish.
“I have the ability to control my emotions much more than I was before HeartMath. Although I still struggle from time to time with depression, I have the tools with HeartMath to diminish the length of episodes. I am a more peaceful man; my family has really seen a difference.

2. How has applying the Quick Coherence technique helped you?
“Heart Focus, Heart Breathing, and Heart Feeling — these steps transformed the way I felt about relaxing. Being able to use a positive feeling from the heart, shift it from the mind and really feel it from within my heart is the key. Knowing that all the positive emotions come from the heart, this tool allowed me to feel more appreciation, more loving, and reduces my stress.” {Mark has also been using Quick Coherence to help him stay focused and clear to solve math problems in taking tests as part of his vocational rehabilitation. ]

3. How has sustaining Heart Coherence helped you?
“I really enjoy the technique. This approach allows me to maintain a feeling of love and appreciation. Shifting my heart into coherence and sustaining that is very powerful. I am able to fully soak my heart with good emotions thus allowing me to be calm, peaceful, and less anxious. I try to do this at least 2 times a day. Once in the morning and once at night. Along with the music that is provided it is a very peaceful place to be.”

4. Did your physician allow you to reduce or discontinue any medications since you began Heartmath practice? And do you believe your practice of HeartMath tools made a difference in this regard?
“I believe HeartMath has allowed my doctors to discontinue many medications. I went from six medicines down to two since I have been using HeartMath.”[Mark was able to discontinue medications to treat seizure, headache, memory, depression and sleep problems.]

5. Do you have data from the emWave PC heart rhythm coherence feedback system you have been using? Does the level of coherence from your heart rhythm coherence data correlate with any improvements you are feeling and noticing?

“All the data that I have shows that I am able to bring my heart into high coherence for a long period of time. This is great for learning what stresses me and how to break the

6. Overall how has HeartMath practice benefited you in your recovery?

“HeartMath has been a valuable tool for me. I feel so much better after learning HeartMath. I wish I had known about it long before. I think that every person can benefit. I know I have. My TBI has been hard to deal with but I have been able to allow myself to heal in a much more calm and peaceful body than before the techniques.

[At his fourth month of HeartMath practice Mark, has been able to teach classes part time about public safety and law enforcement issues. Although he cannot return to active patrol duty he hopes to obtain a position in research.]

As a practitioner I use both the emWave PC and the emWave personal stress reliever in sessions with my clients. My clients like the option to have the best of both worlds. Each device has its own value in helping brain injured clients apply coherence training in support of their recovery. It is an incredibly wonderful device for in the moment stress relief feedback!

One of the things I deeply appreciate is that the HeartMath techniques integrate well with other methods of rehabilitation. I have seen that they provide significant empowerment to the individual in returning themselves to a greater state of health and well-being.

Brain injury recovery is very much like life—there are ups and downs, victories and setbacks, sometimes medications need to re-evaluated, re-adjusted or discontinued. I imagine, in life and brain injury recovery, as we keep opening to the experience we spiral up and out and back again in the healing process as we move to more expanded levels. Yet through it all we have this hardwired ability within our heart– that we can tap into to bring the frequencies of love to help heal our bodies, mind and our lives. There is no end cure for the experience of life or brain injury recovery– just living it with heart and exploring the potentials it leads us to! And supporting each other in the process of doing it! Thank you for coming along with me in this talk.

In closing, here are some references :
I have a deep commitment to brain injury recovery. I look forward to assisting you with any questions that may come up. Contact: Jasmina J. Agrillo, 207-856-6042,

For information about the science, research studies, books and programs of HeartMath log onto: or

The Brain Injury Association of America is the number one resource. They have branches in every state and can direct you to specific resources and support for all aspects of recovery for the survivor and the caregiver. The BIA of America web address is: phone no. is 703-761-0750

Some of the information I have shared in this talk is available from: the American Academy for the Certification of Brain Injury Specialists 703-761-0750 email:

And from the publication: Living with Brain Injury—a Guide for Families by Richard Senelick, MD & Karla Dougherty

This talk by Jasmina J. Agrillo is copyrighted 2007

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