Changing Your Mind
The Heartsong Center offers a tune-up for your brain

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New Mexico's multimillion-dollar bet on legal gambling

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About the cover

  D e s e r t   E x p o s u r e   January 2009

Changing Your Mind

The Heartsong Center in Silver City offers a tune-up for your brain.

Story and photos by Donna Clayton

The voice on my cell phone's voicemail is at once familiar and yet, not quite. "Donna, it's Joe Zamora, the brain-in-a-box guy. You remember me! Give me a call when you can. I have something very exciting to tell you!"

Brain State technician Leesa Haire, who co-owns and operates the center with her husband, osteopathic physician Brad Haire.

Zamora is a warm and personable man about whose experience with brain injury I have written here in Desert Exposure. (See "Brain in a Box," June 2007.) Having suffered a traumatic brain injury when he fell from a horse a few years before, Zamora became a local success story — a poster-boy, even — for the new Brain Injury Recovery Kit, or BIRK, which he humorously refers to as his "brain in a box." That groundbreaking cognitive assistance and recovery tool gave him coping mechanisms and memory-enhancement techniques to lead a semi-normal, if still challenging life.

It's impossible to talk with Zamora and not catch his enthusiasm. I ring him up, eager to hear about what has him so obviously excited. I have no way of knowing that our five-minute conversation is about to lead me down a path to discover things not only about Zamora's brain — but, ultimately, my own.

I have some experience dealing with survivors of traumatic brain injury (TBI). So when I call Zamora I am careful to structure my opening lines to help him remember who I am, and that he even called me in the first place.

"Hello, Joe. It's Donna from Desert Exposure," I start out. "You left a phone message for me this morning. I wrote a story about you and the brain kit last year, and. . ."

Zamora interrupts with a hearty laugh.

"Donna, Donna, Donna! I know who you are!" he insists. "That's why I'm calling you. I'm doing this new thing and it's just a miracle!"

In just five minutes on the phone, I note obvious changes in Zamora's ability to hold a conversation. He needs no prompting, doesn't lose his train of thought mid-sentence as he did when I interviewed him in 2007. His short-term memory seems vastly improved and he exhibits a dry sense of humor. To sum it up, he sounds, well, normal!

"I'm dreaming again! Do you remember that I couldn't dream?" Zamora asks. "And I'm pain-free now! Do you know about the Heartsong Center? The work they are doing is incredible. They brought me to the next level. You've got to check it out."

Owned and operated by the husband-wife team of Leesa and Dr. Brad Haire, an osteopathic physician, the Heartsong Center is a multi-modality healing office located in La Montaa Medical Plaza on 32nd Street, Silver City's "medical row." The facility's brochure says it offers Exercise with Oxygen Therapy (EWOT), Scenar Technology and Frequency Specific Microcurrent — treatments designed to bring about healing through changes on the cellular level.

"Brain State Conditioning," the treatment that Joe Zamora is undergoing and is so excited about, is the product of a Scottsdale, Arizona-based company called Brain State Technologies (BST). The company's Web site (www.brainstatetech.com) says the treatments can bring about positive change in a wide range of areas, from enhancing sports performance and deepening meditation to overcoming addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Science shows that various lobes of the brain perform different functions — the frontal lobe providing language and motor function, the parietals integrating sensory information and processing numbers. Trauma to the brain — which can come from emotional shock or physical trauma — causes little roadblocks, BST says, interrupting the neural pathways over which information is supposed to travel. Too many blockages and you essentially have a work slowdown, with parts of the brain unable to "talk" with each other. Overactive processes, like "high beta waves," can produce "noise" in the brain, leading to confusion, an inability to focus.

Other brain-related modalities like biofeedback seek to teach the client to recognize problematic responses to stimuli — such as phobias or panic attacks — and learn to behave differently. But BST's method, called brain "re-training," seeks to modify the brain's response within itself, bringing about more efficient processing along cleared neural pathways.

There are currently more than 80 centers in the US offering Brain States work, over a dozen in Canada, and 20-plus more scattered around the world, from Mexico to Europe, Israel, South Africa and Thailand. Operators are "licensees," who go through treatment themselves as part of their certification and training. Though many BST practices have a doctor on staff, not all do, and the company's Web site says the product is licensed for use by practitioners in chiropractic, massage and counseling offices.

License to use the program is part of a package deal that includes technical assistance from and interface with the home office, and all the equipment needed, from computer software and electrode systems to the anti-gravity chairs in which clients receive treatment.

The Haires have a complementary partnership in their Silver City Brain States practice: She provides the hands-on aspect of assessments and treatments in her role as a certified technician. He most often is the one to sit with the clients after their initial assessment, to "de-code" for them their brain maps and to explain the treatment protocol.

A strikingly attractive, diminutive woman with long silver hair and green eyes that snap with energy, Leesa Haire welcomes me to the center and says she is on fire with the center's new brainwork modality.

"We took our training and we were just blown away!" she says of the three-week intensive immersion course they took in Scottsdale to become certified in administering assessments and treatment sessions. "We came back and found an office. We were so lucky to get this space," she says of their facility with several treatment rooms. The pair completely remodeled the offices and threw open their doors in July.

Haire says the center already has treated some 50 clients. With an assessment and normal protocol of 10 to 12 treatments — those sessions running from one-and-a-half to two hours — that's a lot of flight time for the new practice's first six months.

"Yes, I've been busy, often seven days a week because you just have to get them in," Haire says with her characteristic smile, the sparkle in her eye not diminished by keeping such a demanding schedule.

Haire insists that the best way for me to understand the Brain States work is to undergo an assessment myself. And so, having gotten a tour of the office and a few questions answered, I find myself reclining in a comfortable anti-gravity chair. We will go through several exercises, Haire explains, some with my eyes closed, some with them open. Electrodes pasted to my scalp and attached to my ear lobes, my brain will feed information to the computer. I will be asked to perform some mental tasks, and the electromagnetic responses of the various parts of my brain will create a map of my lobes' functioning.

The electrodes in place, I begin by sitting quietly with my eyes shut for one minute, then partially open — "just a little light coming in," Haire says in her soothing voice — for one more minute.

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