Adding tDCS Back to Gamma Brainwave Biofeedback

Published Categorised as Health, Brain Biofeedback, Brain Health

Two new things in this week’s gamma brainwave biofeedback session: tDCS and a 3-minute assessment at Wernicke's area to determine if we should do tDCS at that location to improve my receptive language (e.g., reading). These were not so easy to do. My poor trainer, none of the electrode placements are in standard spots, spots where the 19-point full cap electrodes land. Instead they’re in between. So the tDCS sent current into and so stimulated activity in my brain for five minutes in the FP1-FP3 position; the 3-minute Wernicke's area assessment is neither in a standard Cx nor Px position; and the electrode for my regular gamma biofeedback is positioned between PZ and O1. A lot of thinking involved in ensuring those electrodes or stimulating sponge are in the right spots! Worse, because the tDCS (transcranial direct current stimulation) was for five minutes instead of ten given my extreme PTSD reaction last time (which I think was more because I had it done two days in a row with no day or week in between plus, well, okay I'm sensitive) my trainer had to physically hold the sponge in place on my head.* Talk about an arm workout. I guess the headband usually used to hold the sponge on the head is more suited for a standard-time session.

I was hot. The weather is cooler this week, so at least I wasn’t struggling with the heat as much, and surprisingly, it took me very little time to stop sweating. But I was having more trouble with my breathing and with having a heavy chest (due to emotional crap) than with my body temperature. I leaned against streetlight poles whenever I had to wait for the traffic light to change, repeating to myself gamma biofeedback always helps my heart, I just have to get there and then I’ll feel better. I’ve used that coping strategy for years. I went through worse during the early post-injury years when, for example, I had to carefully time standing up on the subway train so that my dizziness plus the movement of the train would not pull me to the floor. I'd focus on that train door and say, all you have to do is get the through it. Get through and you'll be fine. Well, no, but I repeated that mantra in each stage of my journey, and I'd arrive at my destination safely, albeit with my chest killing me. My chest doesn't hurt so much, not like back then, but I really wish life would stop hurling shit at me that I have to adapt to in addition to keeping up with my changing brain, to relearning things I knew from before my injury, to learning how to normalize as I improve, to coping with regressions, and on and on.

Anyway, the tDCS began lightening my chest and my breathing eased during the rest of the session.

However, back on the subway, on my way to my destination, my chest began to grow heavy again. Oh well. I at least still felt less stressed, and it wasn't as bad. And so I hoped that would be a good thing as I went into the future I hate. Nothing ever really changes. Good news lasts a nanosecond. Bad news rules.

*The tDCS device directs current through a wet sponge placed on the head into the brain a very few cm. A headband usually holds the sponge in place. The current is grounded by a sponge placed on the shoulder opposite to the head sponge. Clothing can hold that sponge in place.


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