Functional Neurologic Activities

Neurologic activities involve short repetitive actions to improve balance and function in specific areas of weak brain function.  Each individually tailored prescription can be developed to improve left-right communication and strengthen brain lobes that are not performing well.  Think of functional neurologic activities as exercise specific to the brain.  Dr. Johnson usually teaches the patient the proper activities requesting that the program is performed at home for short periods of time daily.

Heart Rate Variability (HRV) Biofeedback

Heart Rate Variability (HRV) biofeedback is a relatively new technique for training people to change the variability and dominant rhythms of their heart activity. The use of HRV biofeedback began in Russia in the early 1980’s where it was applied to the treatment of asthma and numerous other conditions. Research is now going on in many sites in the United States and Canada and other countries, applying HRV biofeedback techniques to persons who have a variety of medical and psychiatric conditions, including: anger, anxiety disorders, asthma, cardiovascular conditions including heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), depression, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), chronic fatigue, and chronic pain.

Pertinent Research Findings:
  • Higher levels of resting HRV have been associated with effective stress coping strategies and increased resilience under stress
  • NOTE: Attention control is associated with higher HRV
  • Reduced HRV is seen in many disorders with autonomic dysregulation, including anxiety, depression, irritable bowel syndrome, and asthma
  • Patients with generalized anxiety disorder show lower HRV than controls
  • Patients with major depression show lower HRV than controls
  • Reduced HRV is associated with increased vulnerability to physical and psychological stressors and disease

Interactive Metronome® (IM)

The Interactive Metronome® (IM) Program provides a structured, goal-oriented process that challenges the patient to synchronize a range of hand and foot exercises to a precise computer-generated reference tone heard through headphones. The patient attempts to match the rhythmic beat with repetitive motor actions. A patented audio or audio and visual guidance system provides immediate feedback measured in milliseconds, and a score is provided. IM training can be done in the office with supervision and there is also a home-based program called IM Home.

Conditions known to benefit from Interactive Metronome® Therapy are:
  • Asperger Syndrome
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Behavior (Aggression & Impulsivity)
  • Tourette’s Syndrome
  • Brain Injury
  • Balance/Vestibular Disorders
  • Early Alzheimer’s
  • Stroke
  • and many more.
Learn more about Interactive Metronome® (IM) Training:

Photobiomoduation for Brain Health

Photobiomodulation therapy is the newly accepted term of  light therapy that utilizes non-ionizing forms of light sources, including lasers, LEDs, and broadband light, in the visible and infrared spectrum. No heat is generated by these forms of light. There are several benefits to photobiomodulation, including:

  • Enhanced blood flow and oxygen delivery.
  • Improved energy production in brain tissue by stimulating mitochondria.
  • Is completely painless and safe to be used over the brain.  It does not produce any tissue damage and can easily penetrate to major brain lobes.
  • The is a growing body of research demonstrating improvement attention, depression, mood regulation, memory and post-consussion recovery. Take a look some research that has been published on photobiomodulation.

Mechanisms of Brain Photobiomodulation

There are several mechanisms associated with promoting physiological change through photobiomodulation therapy (PBMT). The wavelengths primarily used with PBM is within the near-infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum with a sufficient power density. When hypoxic/impaired cells are irradiated with low level NIR photons, there is increased mitochondrial adenosine tri-phosphate (ATP) production within their mitochondria.1, 2 Another change is the release of nitric oxide from the hypoxic/impaired cells. Neurons are cells that contain mitochondria and nitric oxide.

In hypoxic neuronal cells, cytochrome-C oxidase (CCO), a membrane-bound protein that serves as the end-point electron acceptor in the cell respiration electron transport chain, becomes inhibited by non-covalent binding of nitric oxide. When exposed to NIR photons, the CCO releases nitric oxide, which then diffuses outs of the cell – increasing local blood flow and vasodilation.3, 4

Following initial exposure to the NIR photons, there is a brief burst of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the neuron cell, and this activates a number of signaling pathways. The ROS leads to activation of redox-sensitive genes, and related transcription factors including NF-κβ.5, 6 The PBMT stimulates gene expression for cellular proliferation, migration, and the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines and growth factors.7


1. Karu T. Primary and secondary mechanisms of action of visible to near-IR radiation on cells. J Photochem Photobiol B 1999;49:1-17.
2. Wong-Riley MT, Liang HL, Eells JT, Chance B, Henry MM, Buchmann E, Kane M, Whelan HT. Photobiomodulation directly benefits primary neurons functionally inactivated by toxins: role of cytochrome c oxidase. J Biol Chem 2005;280:4761-4771.
3. Karu TI, Pyatibrat LV, Afanasyeva NI. Cellular effects of low power laser therapy can be mediated by nitric oxide. Lasers Surg Med 2005;36:307-314.
4. Huang YY, Chen AC, Carroll JD, Hamblin MR. Biphasic dose response in low level light therapy. Dose Response 2009;7:358-383.
5. Migliario M, Pittarella P, Fanuli M, Rizzi M, Reno F. Laser-induced osteoblast proliferation is mediated by ROS production. Lasers Med Sci 2014;29:1463-1467.
6. Avci P, Gupta GK, Clark J, Wikonkal N, Hamblin MR. Low-level laser (light) therapy (LLLT) for treatment of hair loss. Lasers Surg Med 2014;46:144-151.
7. Huang YY, Gupta A, Vecchio D, de Arce VJ, Huang SF, Xuan W, Hamblin MR. Transcranial low level laser (light) therapy for traumatic brain injury. J Biophotonics 2012;5:827-837.

Dr. Johnson explains transcranial photobiomodulation (tPBM):


Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy (PEMF)

PEMF stands for Pulsed ElectroMagnetic Frequency therapy.  PEMF enhances energy production, improves circulation, helps move vitamins and minerals into the cells.  PEMF has been used for decades in Europe and has thousands of scientific studies to back up its effectiveness and safety.

Here is a short video explaining Puled Electromagnetic Field Therapy (PEMF):
Check out this great discussion of how PEMF energies cells, particularly mitochondria:

Exercise with Total Brain & Body O2

We offer exercise with enhanced air therapy (sometimes called exercise with oxygen therapy or EWOT) to enhance brain function and energy production. The system we use is called Total Brain & Body O2 exercise.

The basis of the protocol on Total Brain & Body O2 exercise is to induce O2 deprivation and then once recognized by the software data, flood the body with O2 saturation and take advantage of the vasodilation/saturation by pushing it to as much tissue as possible via exercise (in this case our NordicTrack® Commercial VR21 recumbent bike. It facilitates healing by super-saturating nearly all body tissues (especially the brain, kidney, liver) plasma and lymph with very high levels of oxygen that permeates the tissues because of the exercise component.

Neuroplasticity Requires Oxygen

We can use Total Brain & Body O2 as a stand-alone exercise or prior to neurofeedback training to potentially help increase oxygen levels in the brain and body. Total Brain & Body O2 exercise is supplied via the Total Brain & Body O2 apparatus and is noninvasive and painless.  It can be combined with Dr. Johnson’s neurofeedback training to provide faster and more synergistic results.

Total Brain & Body O2 exercise ensures the maximum amount of oxygen reaches where it is needed the most; damaged and inflamed tissues and allows them to return to normal aerobic metabolism. Total Brain & Body O2 starts a healing process where the process halted due to poor cellular healing capacity.

Oxygen is vital for every function of the body and brain. No matter what your present level of physical and mental health, you will benefit from flooding your cells with life-giving oxygen.

The Prefrontal Cortex (PFC)

The PFC is the region of the cortex behind the forehead.  It plays a central role in making decisions, formulating and carrying out plans and intentions and sticking to those plans in the face of distraction.  For example, suppose it is time for your evening meal.  Your PFC will formulate a plan for meeting that need.  Your PFC accesses the knowledge you need such as your memory of where you keep your pots and pans as well as the ingredients for the meal.  Suppose the phone rings while you are cooking – you decide to answer it, your PFC will hold your intentions to finish cooking the meal so that you can come back to cooking when you are done.

The PFC also has the ability to inhibit other areas of the brain connected to emotions, enabling you to, for example, override a fear of heights when you need to climb a ladder.  In summary, the PFC controls attention, blocks distractions in the environment, controls physical and emotional impulses and helps access your memory.  However, in order for the PFC to function properly, it requires blood flow to supply it with the nutrients necessary for metabolism.  Studies have demonstrated that some individuals have limited blood flow to this area of the brain.  For example, children and adults with ADD/ADHD have a decreased blood flow to this area of the brain.

The Goal Total Brain & Body O2 Exercise

Whereas the goal of neurofeedback is to train the individual to produce, inhibit or improve the balance of certain brainwaves, the goal of Total Brain & Body O2 exercise is to increase blood flow to the pre-frontal cortex (PFC) and the entire brain.  Increasing the amount of blood to the PFC will result in increased metabolism thereby allowing this area of the brain to function optimally.  Like neurofeedback, Total Brain & Body O2 exercise is completely non-invasive and drugless.

Total Brain & Body O2 Exercise and ADD/ADHD

ADD/ADHD is a real neurological disorder and typically results in dysregulation of the PFC.  Brain scanning studies have shown different activity in the PFC of children and adults suffering with ADD/ADHD.  These scans have demonstrated a deactivation of the PFC during tasks requiring concentrated attention, for which you would normally see an increase in PFC activity.  This deactivation results in the symptoms commonly seen with this condition.

The benefits reported by users of the Total Brain & Body O2 system have been described as significant concerning improvement in cognitive function, executive function, and motor control. Now doesn’t that sound fantastic for improving brain health?