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Morgan’s Success Story

by Siegfried Othmer | April 7th, 2017

As submitted by her mother, Lisa Taylor, a neurofeedback practitioner:

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Morgan was an energetic, outgoing child with a whole lot of personality. She had all the confidence in the world, even with Tourette’s Syndrome. We taught her that people stare because they are concerned and wanted to make sure she was okay, or that they could not figure out what she was doing. We taught her to take that opportunity to educate people with a smile and tell them that she had Tourette’s Syndrome, and that she could teach people… That she did! She would smile her 1000-watt smile and explain her peculiar behaviors and movements. Nothing slowed her down. We lived in Bozeman, Montana, and our family members were avid horsemen—active outdoors and in the community. Morgan played tennis, basketball, and snowboarded. She won awards at school for leadership, and was described as inspiring and remarkable by teachers, peers, and even strangers.

At one point she was invited to go to a birthday party with another family at a cabin in the woods where they would spend the day snowmobiling. The father decided to take the kids sledding by tying an inner-tube sled to a truck and pulling them—something I would never have allowed. Morgan was on the inner-tube ‘sled’ and it flipped and the rope wrapped around her waist and the SUV dragged her—we don’t know for how long. The father put her in the truck and took the other kids out. When it became Morgan’s turn, she went again. This time the SUV turned and she hit a tree.

Although we know that she passed out at least once, the father of the group did not take her to an emergency room or even call us. He dropped her off at home while we were at church. We returned home to find that she had bruises on the top of her head and all the way down to her feet. Her face was bruised as with a rug burn, and all the way around her waist was a bloody rope burn. She had no recollection of what happened. On the following day, I had to go to the school to find out from the other kids what had actually happened.

The doctor did not run any tests because a few days had already passed. We were told her headache would go away in a month, and then in six months, but the headaches never went away. She would lose her balance; her vision would blur, and she couldn’t sleep because of the headaches. She had been temperamental before, but now she had rages. She had benefited from neurofeedback before, but I wasn’t sure that could lessen the rages she now had. Her doctor wanted her to try the usual therapies.

She would scream for hours, and sometimes we had no idea what had set her off. When one child has difficulties, mental health issues, or even medical issues, the whole family suffers. We felt that we had to walk on egg shells…

Morgan tells her story:

I had Tourette’s Syndrome, OCD, ADHD, and anger that all affected my life. I would have tics, and people would just stare at me. It looked as if I were having a fit of seizures. It felt like there was a wall my mind would hit when I tried to solve a math problem or learn material. My brain would just stop thinking, and no matter how much I tried to focus, I couldn’t.

My mother had heard about neurofeedback from the school, and then from a group in the community who were having a fund-raiser for children who were adopted from Russia. The children had attachment disorder, and neurofeedback helped them. I had 30 sessions and my tics, OCD, and ADHD were dramatically reduced. It was weird at first, the concept of electrodes on my head. I imagined I could “feel” the waves going in and out of my head (I could not, of course). As a kid with ADHD and Tourette’s, sitting in a chair for 30 minutes watching a boring game was almost torture. I tried not to move or zone out, and I would get tired during each session.

My teachers and family had seen the changes. I was more focused in classes, my tics had lessened, and I didn’t get as frustrated. To me, however, the changes were gradual and I was more focused on my sports and on my friends, and did not really notice how my brain was affected. Slowly, I became aware of the changes. My handwriting became neater, and my OCD thoughts weren’t as overwhelming. I was able to think through math problems and even started to find math enjoyable.

Then in 2010, I had two accidents within a few hours of each other. That year after the accidents, I had occupational therapy and physical therapy, but nothing really helped. I had many different therapies that I needed, all of which helped me a little.

The anger I had almost destroyed the relationship with my family. I would scream at them almost every interaction I had with one of them. The rage would take over my mind. It was like I would step out of my body and watch as I screamed at my siblings for looking at me the wrong way. Most of the time I wasn’t ever hurt or angry at a specific thing, only filled with an overwhelming amount of energy and negativity. I would scream with blind rage. It was a wall of anger, and all the techniques in the world the therapist could teach me wouldn’t help, because it wasn’t an issue of thinking through it, but rather one of not thinking at all. I only knew I was mad and unhappy, and if I yelled, I could get rid of the feelings, at least temporarily.

Concussions or brain trauma can change your personality completely. I would get frustrated for no reason and my tics came back with full force. I was hazy and fatigued. The concussions I had suffered were both major ones, and I had problems standing and walking; I had tunnel vision and my vision was blurred. I couldn’t remember basic words or names, and I could not only forget what I was talking about even in mid-sentence but that I was talking at all, and I would just walk off from a conversation. Sometimes I would think things and be saying them out loud and not realize it. I had a headache 24/7. The pain never went away. I had migraines constantly and sleeping problems. I had to quit all of my sports and activities, even sit out in gym class. I had vertigo constantly, either in class or while I was walking. I would fall out of my chair so frequently that my teachers had my best friends sit next to me in each class so that one or the other could pull me back up when I started to fall over. I had no idea I was even falling in the first place until I hit the floor. I had physical therapy, audio-therapy, occupational therapy, visual therapy, and finally neurotherapy again.

However, it wasn’t until a few months into the process that I knew I had changed. I remember not only the moment but also the circumstances surrounding it and exactly how I felt. My older sister had worn a shirt that I wanted to wear and when I saw her wearing it my blood boiled. I could feel the storm cloud beginning to rise inside of me, and I opened my mouth to begin to yell. “That’s the shirt I want to wear. Take it off!” My sister started yelling back defensively. My mother came around the corner at this point, and I remember I just stopped and stared at my sister. She was right. Why would she have to take it off? Why was I even mad at this in the first place? It was also not fair that I blew up at her. I noticed how she winced when I started screaming. I felt guilty. For the first time, I had felt something other than rage. I looked at her and said, “I’m sorry.” My sister just gaped at me in surprise. I slowly turned around to head back to my room. I wasn’t just thinking through my anger; I realized that I had no anger to feel. I felt as if a thousand pounds lifted off my shoulders. I felt free and happy. I remember crying because of how happy I was. After that day, I continued to be able to think through my anger. When my siblings and I got into an argument, I could walk away and within minutes be able to shake it off and be happy again. Everyone else would be waiting for me to start screaming. My tics became less frequent. In school, I felt as if the heaviness and fuzziness I felt before had lifted away. I could think through problems.

I was able to live a normal life again. Neurotherapy had made the biggest impact on me. I now attend the school I dreamed of attending, Texas A&M in College Station. I was able to play sports again and get a 4.0 GPA in high school. I wish I could put into words just how grateful I am, just how relieved and just how happy I am. Neurotherapy changed my life not once, but twice. It saved my future; I know people who have had brain injuries and who have not been able to live the way I do. Seeing what I could have and should have become, and seeing people who are in the same situation that I was in, I know that I want to finish school and conduct neurofeedback sessions professionally. Neurofeedback impacted me dramatically. I am blessed that we had the resources to get help. Knowing how far I have come, how dramatic the difference of who I once was and who I am now and the possibilities of others, I want to help. I want to tell others that there is hope. Doctors told me there is nothing more they can do. Each person is different in what they need out of neurotherapy, and though I may not know each person’s individual struggle, I understand what it is like to have one.

Morgan does not take or need any medications. She is very active, mentally and physically healthy, enjoys dressage and jumping horses, scuba diving, and international travel.

Editorial responsibility:

Siegfried Othmer, PhD
drothmer.com

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