First Responders such as police, dispatchers, firefighters, paramedics/ambulance attendants, and front-line health workers have some of the most difficult jobs in the world. They are often faced with life-or-death decisions and are repeatedly exposed to the traumatic events that most of us don’t want to think about. While such work can be immensely rewarding, there is often a heavy cost.
Dr. Friesen has been working with First Responders in various capacities for almost 20-years and has seen the difficulties some First Responders experience as a result of their work.
At Niagara Neuropsychology, we are opening up and expanding our offerings for First Responders. Over the last few years, Dr. Friesen and his team developed and implemented the annual Optimal Psychological Performance Assessment (OPPA) for specialty units and dispatchers/communicators at the Niagara Regional Police Service (NRPS) as part of their larger Safeguarding program.
This has been a ground-breaking program and, as far as we are aware, the first Safeguarding program in North America to incorporate objective neuropsychological and psychophysiological measurements. Dr. Friesen designed the OPPA by incorporating aspects of assessments he has developed for elite athletes (e.g., professional and Olympic athletes), executives, those with brain injuries, and patients who are suffering from depression and anxiety (including PTSD).
We are now opening this program up to First Responders in general, including police officers, dispatchers/communicators, firefighters, paramedics/ambulance attendants, and front-line health workers (e.g., physicians, nurses, etc.).
Our program is designed to help First Responders identify psychological, neuropsychological, and physiological difficulties early (often before self-awareness) by using objective and evidence-based measurements.
The main goal is to help prevent stress-related injuries (e.g., Posttraumatic Stress Disorder—PTSD, burnout, etc.). Like elite athletes, First Responders need to be in top psychological, neuropsychological/cognitive, and physiological shape in order to perform at their potential. Thus, a second goal of the program is to identify decrements in optimal performance and functioning and help provide timely solutions.
The OPPA is designed to be repeated every 6 to 12 months in order to track difficulties and functioning. This is valuable for detecting both positive and negative changes in psychological/emotional, behavioural, neuropsychological/cognitive, and psychophysiological functioning early to help ensure First Responders are performing and functioning optimally.
To learn more about how the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers are using neurofeedback and biofeedback, to improve their game, click HERE.
For how the New York Jets quarterback Josh McCown used neurofeedback to improve his game, click HERE.
For one video blogger’s experience trying to improve her daily performance with a brief trial of neurofeedback, watch the video below:
Professional baseball players also use neurofeedback:
We offer the same training at Friesen Sport & Performance Psychology.
Want to learn more about Concussions? In 2017 I had the honour to serve as the invited guest editor of a special CONCUSSION issue for the Canadian Psychological Association’s national magazine, Psynopsis. To see my introductory article ( The Role of Psychology in the “Concussion Crisis”) and the other articles in the magazine, click HERE. To download the PDF version click HERE.
Dr. Friesen also consulted with the Canadian Psychological Association for their CONCUSSION FACT SHEET. Click HERE for a PDF version of it.
BACKGROUND: Persistent Sport-Related Post-Concussion Syndrome is often diagnosed with any type of prolonged PCS symptoms. However, there are not specific diagnostic criteria for PPCS such that misdiagnosis often occurs. Further, the signs and symptoms of PCS overlap with other common illnesses such as depression, anxiety, migraines, ADHD and others. Misdiagnosis may lead to less than efficacious treatment, resulting in prolonged symptoms.
OBJECTIVE: This article will review relevant evidence-based literature on PCS, pointing out the lack of a systemic diagnostic framework. It will also provide evidence that highlights the multiple conflicting findings in the literature. This article will posit the BioPsychoSocial framework as the best diagnostic framework for understanding the impact of concussions on the person and to generate individualized and personal interventions.
METHODS: A narrative review of sport concussion-related articles was conducted, after extensive searches of relevant and non-relevant literature by each author, as well as articles recommended by colleagues. Articles varied from American Academy of Neurology Class I to IV for evaluation and critique. Class IV articles were reviewed, as there is much public misconception regarding sport and other concussion treatment that needed identification and discussion.
RESULTS: Articles reviewed varied by quality of research design and methodology. Multiple symptoms, recovery patterns and rehabilitation treatment approaches are purported in the sport-related concussion literature. Current consensus data as well as the mixed and contradictory findings were explored.
CONCLUSIONS: Persistent Sport-Related Post-Concussion Syndrome is a topic of great interest to both professionals and the general public. There is much misunderstanding about the etiology, causation, diagnostic formulations, symptom presentation, prolonging factors and treatment involved in this syndrome. This article posits an individualized multi-system diagnostic formulation, examining all relevant factors, as generating the best interventions for neurorehabilitation of Persistent Sport-Related Post-Concussion Syndrome.
To learn more about the latest on how we now assess and treat concussions from my colleague, Dr. Robert Conder (former Carolina Hurricanes team neuropsychologist), watch the videos below.
To learn more about the latest on how we now assess and treat concussions from my colleague, Dr. Robert Conder (former Carolina Hurricanes team neuropsychologist), watch the videos below:
Applied Psychophysiology Education (APEd) has a comprehensive list of abstracts for neurofeedback research that you can access HERE.
Similarly, the International Society for Neuroregulation & Research (ISNR.org) regularly updates a comprehensive bibliography of neurofeedback research studies, including on Peak Performance that can be accessed HERE.
In addition to neurofeedback/biofeedback and other forms of neuromodulation (click HERE for more information), we are now offering the Low Energy Neurofeedback System (LENS), also known as High-Performance Neurofeedback (HPN), Microcurrent Neurofeedback, Direct Neurofeedback, or Low-Intensity Pulsed Transcranial Electrical Stimulation (LIP-tES), to help with peak performance and those with TBI/Concussions and other difficulties.
Preliminary research has found such treatment effective for those with TBI/Concussions. Here are some examples of TBI/Concussion/Post-Concussion Syndrome research:
University of California summary of MEG study of HPN treatment of veterans with Mild TBI/Concussion/Post-Concussion Syndrome: Click HERE and HERE
Dr. Stephen Larsen’s article in the journal Biofeedback titled The Special Applicability of the LENS Form of Neurofeedback to TBI: Click HERE
Multisite case series of retired NFL players with multiple concussions & Post-Concussion Syndrome treated with Direct Neurofeedback: Click HERE
Dr. Stephen Larsen’s clinical outcomes study using LENS on 100 patients in the Journal of Neurotherapy: Click HERE
Dr. Corydon Hammond’s case study and qEEG analysis of a young woman with a severe TBI in the Journal of Neurotherapy: Click HERE
Videos of patient and athlete experiences and other information on LENS and related treatments:
Young woman with Cerebral Palsy and a TBI treated with LENS: Click HERE
Interested in learning how to keep your brain healthy and sharp as you age? Drs. Robert and Alanna Conder and I recently published a review article in OBM Geriatrics where we outline ways to promote healthy neuro-cognitive aging.
Are you struggling to perform under pressure? Maybe you’re a professional athlete performing worse during competition than during practice. Or an entrepreneur and your pitches to investors are hampered by your nerves
Ever find that you set a goal for yourself but start to peter out after a few days or weeks? Maybe you decided that you’re going to be getting up 30 minutes earlier to do cardio or work on that book you’ve finally decided to write.
Do you have important things on your to-do list that you never seem to get to? Maybe these are projects or activities that are really important to you. Maybe you set a goal to start implementing a daily stress management strategy like mindfulness meditation.
Are you finding yourself struggling with self-doubt? Do you wish your confidence was always up? Do you find your belief in yourself waxes and wanes? Maybe you’ve tried “positive affirmations”, fighting back your doubting thoughts by telling yourself you’re awesome or you’ll be successful.
We help athletes and other top level performers achieve new levels of excellence by turning the latest science into practical and easy to understand strategies and techniques.
Our mission is to help athletes and others who are serious about success. We do this through one-on-one in-person (from Niagara to Oakville) and phone/webcam consultation.
We also offer seminars & workshops to groups (businesses, specialized conferences, and elite sports clubs) on topics related to productivity, peak performance, and performance enhancement.
We don’t feel right unless we are excelling or moving forward.
With one life to live, we have one shot to achieve our dreams and goals–we owe it to ourselves to give our best.
Nothing happens unless we make it happen.
If we really want something, we need to use every tool at our disposal.
We often have more natural talent and resources than we are aware of.
That many of us have not tapped our full potential. We are not aware of or not utilizing the numerous strategies and techniques that the fields of executive coaching, sport/performance psychology, and cognitive neuroscience have to offer.
If we are serious about our success we will leave no stone unturned to achieve our full potential.