What can Brain Changer do for me?
There’s been a lot of work done on explaining what chronic pain is, but not enough on the how and why certain strategies can change it and why certain strategies work.
We give you the HOW and WHY in one simple tool.
Through your daily use of the Brain Changer app you will plan out your activities each morning and identify safe activities, triggers and dangers; becoming expert at threat identification and changing your threat response through a measured response of scoring and reinforcing positive action.
Once you’ve planned your day you will then measure your bio-psycho-social environment and provide a measured response with frequent positive experiences to nullify threats and triggers. Using a traffic light system of measuring your green ‘safe’, orange ‘becoming unsafe’ and red ‘stop, reassess and add more safety’ you will add in safe activities as required, so that you have a good ‘margin a safety’; repeatedly showing yourself evidence that you are safe.
The app trains you to become expert at what works best for you and your recovery.
What is Brain Changer?
Brain Changer is a unique app based tool that combines an activity/safety card and scoring system that enables you to apply your pain education as part of a daily program – on any device, anywhere, anytime.
Using the app you will be able to recognise when your brain is escalating your status away from ‘safe’ and be prompted to counteract the danger signal with a stronger ‘safe’ signal.
By measuring how safe you are on the app you will be able to map and track your progress over time, helping identify patterns or tricky days (e.g. travel days) that you can use to re-calibrate your rehab program in consultation with your health care practitioners.
Brain Changer is a card and app based system for people who have had pain education in a clinic and want to harness that knowledge through a daily program. The card decks help you pace yourself and build safety into your day.
Brain Changer is designed to be used as part of your recovery in conjunction with health care professionals, including:
- Pain Specialists
- General Practitioners
How you gain control over time
To get better, you need a whole of body approach to wind down your nervous system. This is because your nervous system runs through your whole body (including your brain).
The evidence from contemporary pain science is that the way to do this by combining:
- Graded Exposure (or ‘pacing up’)
- safety signalling, and
- danger identification.
Brain Changer helps you do all three.
As you wind down your nervous system you will gain condition. This means you will be able to do more and be more comfortable doing it. This process isn’t linear – there will be flare ups along the way, but the good news is that with time flare ups become less common and recovery much faster and reaching for recovery will become second nature.
It’s about daily action
So, we know a lot about pain, but how do we chip away at recovery each day, build condition and re-wire our brains?
Answer – with a planning and scoring tool where you are more able to ‘stand down’ your nervous system by
- adding structure to your whole day
- adding safe, positive experiences into everything you do
- acknowledging the dangers, the triggers and flare ups and adding in more safety; and
- using a measured response to threats and dangers.
Are we saying its all plain sailing? No. There’s always bumps along the Graded Exposure path.
What we are saying is that when you repeatedly show yourself you are safe, when you reach for safe activities, it reinforces new pathways in your brain.
The Brain Changer app is your handrail for your day loading in plenty of positive experiences so that you become expert in reaching for recovery and safety.
It’s through these many repetitions of planning and scoring that help you re-wire your brain and change your symptoms. Over time these repetitions will mean reaching for safety will become second nature to you and you will learn how to navigate your day with ease and best of all, enjoyment!
What is ‘safety signalling?’
Your brain takes into account any evidence of safety or ‘safety signals’ when it weighs up a potential danger and whether to send pain to protect you. These signals can come from what’s going on in your mind and body. The environment around you also drives your brain – it’s constantly scanning for cues about your safety. Just the slightest whiff of possible danger (including the unknown or uncertain) can be enough for your brain to put on the pain break.
By planning and scoring using the Brain Changer app you will be able to recognise when your brain is escalating your status away from ‘safe’ and be prompted to counteract the danger signal with a stronger ‘safe’ signal.
The Brain Changer app
- directs you back to adding more safe activities into your day to counteract the dangers
- shows your progress over time, highlighting your margin of safety score
- identifies patterns – such as special days or tasks that are major ‘Zombies’ for you
- helps you calibrate your rehab program in consultation with your health care practitioners.
How do I use it?
Step 1 – Plan out your day
When you add structure to an activity you get back control and lower the cognitive load you are under.
You do this using online playing cards, or ‘activity cards’, which help you pace yourself and build safety into your whole day by overlaying them with ‘safety cards’.
By placing a ‘safety card’ over everything you do you demonstrate to yourself that no matter what you do you are covered, even if you have a long day with challenging work or family activities. The trickier the activity (e.g. sitting on a hard seat, a stressful meeting or commuting) the more cards you can add in ‘safety cards’ like ‘smile big’, ‘listen to comedy’ and ‘ask for help’.
Step 2 – Measure your biopsychosocial environment
Now it’s time to score what happing between biology, psychology, and socio-environmental factors.
First you list and rate your ‘Halos’- these are your positives experiences right now
Then you list and rate your ‘Zombies’ – these are your negative experiences. Why Zombies? Because pain is like a zombie program in your brain, running in the background and impacting what you anticipate and expect.
Step 3 – Review your ‘Margin of Safety’
Once you’ve scored your ‘Halos’ and ‘Zombies’ the app shows you if you are on
- a ‘green light’ with 10+ points of safety than danger
- an ‘amber light’ 1-10 points of safety, or
- a ‘red lights’ when you have more danger than safety
You then either accept the margin or safety or add in more.
We suggest you score in at least three times a day – morning, noon and night – as your brain generally needs three data points to see a trend.
How can I get Brain Changer?
Get set up with Brain Changer at any of these clinics and get started:
Kerrianne Abbott Psychology, Lyneham and Philip, ACT
Active Recovery Physiotherapy, Phillip, ACT
Canberra Injury Management Centre (CIMC), Deakin, ACT
ACT Pain Centre, Calvary Clinic, Bruce ACT
Momentum Sports and Rehabilitation Centre, Bruce, ACT
Jacqueline Davies Psychology, Woden, ACT
Capital Pain and Rehabilitation Centre, Deakin, ACT
Sori Rippon, Corinna Chambers Psychologists, Woden, ACT
Accelerate Physiotherapy, Garran, ACT
Karin du Plessis, Perspectives Pain and Rehabilitation, Lennox Head, NSW
Dr Annie Woodhouse, Psychologist, Glenrock Country Practice, Wagga Wagga NSW
Brain Changer benefits:
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Brain Changer Code Card
Our Gift for you
The Brain Changer Code Card sets out the behavious we need to be practising day to day in order to benefit our brain. And they actually apply regardless of whether you have chronic pain. People tell us they like to carry a spare copy around in their wallet or stick it on the fridge. Every 4-6 weeks we’ll share another Brain Changer card so you’ve got some fresh inspiration.
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