Company Hopes to Make Pawtucket An ‘Epicenter’ for Brain Health
August 31, 2016
This building at 120 Webster Street, to be significantly renovated, will soon be the home of Living Well Adult Day Care and Brain in Play International. (Breeze photo by Ethan Shorey) By ETHAN SHOREY, Breeze Online News Editor
PAWTUCKET – Baseball, beer, and…better brains? A company making early groundbreaking strides in brain wellness appears to be the next big thing in Pawtucket, having completed breakthrough pilot research showing how just one component of their clinical system improved memory and cognition in all participants, and significantly reduced depression in 94% of subjects in their first prospective study. The study’s results are worthy of national attention, with multiple publications and presentations planned.
Brain in Play International has been accepting referrals from Living Well Adult Day Care, 461 Main St., and now the owners plan to solidify that partnership by moving their clinical offices from their current Warwick location, joining Living Well in a mill facility at 120 Webster Street.
The owner of Living Well, Greg Andrade, who opened his adult care services facility a year ago and has seen rapid growth, is set to close on the purchase of the Webster Street property this month. Brain in Play International will be a tenant.
The new five-story facility will have commercial kitchens with handicapped accessibility, treatment rooms, activity rooms, occupational and physical therapy spaces, an indoor track, exercise rooms, sensory rooms, a café, music area, administrative offices, and a partial hospitalization program, among other amenities, according to Andrade. With Brain In Play International, this will be the “epicenter for brain wellness,” he said.
Backers of Brain in Play International claim to have “invented scientific brain wellness to help save and improve brains and lives.” The company was founded by clinician-scientists William and Katharine White. Bill White, co-author of “Winning the War Against Concussions in Youth Sports,” told The Breeze the couple and their partners are seeing results restoring brain health that were once thought impossible. Scans are showing people with brain injuries or diseases can make a comeback. The advances are especially exciting in the area of concussions, said White, who has consulted with everyone from NFL executives to high school football coaches.
As the experts behind Brain in Play grow in their new Pawtucket space, they’ll be looking to scale their treatments nationally. Injuries and diseases of the brain are the fastest-growing cause of disability and death in the U.S., from youth with “epidemic numbers” of concussions to adults with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. With psychiatric and substance addiction diagnoses rising in all age groups, the need for evidence-based solutions has never been greater, says White.
Brain in Play International’s medical director is world renowned brain and spinal cord safety expert Dr. Al Ashare of Boston’s St. Elizabeth’s Hospital and Tuft’s Medical School, and its advisory board chair is physician training leader and Brown Medical School professor emeritus Ed Iannuccilli MD – a cofounder of the startup now known as United Health of New England. The company is using a patent-pending, evidence-based brain wellness solution they originated called Brain Performance Enhancement℠, utilizing precise behavioral, cognitive and therapy routines to change “gene expression” and “trigger swift and prominent structural and functional brain improvements, called neuroplasticity.” Medical experts can’t change someone’s DNA, said White, but what we have learned is that there are little ‘switches’ on the genes that make up DNA, and by triggering them we can change and regulate the way that brain cells function, communicate, grow and preserve themselves. “This is a game-changing discovery scientists call neuro-epigenetics,” he said. “Most doctors are still skeptical of these practices because they’ve been trained that DNA can’t be changed, said Dr. Ashare, but the evidence is becoming too overwhelming to ignore. Brain in Play International will help “change medical science involving the brain forever.” On a basic level, using just one best practice of skilled exercise, the latest scientific studies show that if older people exercise 20-30 minutes three or four times a week, “consistently enough to break a little sweat,” their brains may become 2.5 percent larger within a year, said White. The especially good news is that since most middle-senior aged people should expect to see brain shrinkage of about 2.5 percent from normal aging – this means that scientific brain wellness can offer a net improvement or gain of about 5 percent, he said. White refers patients to Rich Gingras of Pawtucket’s Fight 2 Fitness and his Rock Steady boxing program to get people with Parkinson’s and other brain issues consistently active in new ways. Besides skilled exercise, White and his team treat with a special type of relaxation therapy, proper hydration, reduced alcohol intake, mood management, stress management routines, inspiring brain stimulation, finding what motivates a patient and using it to jump-start change, best brain nutrition via the MIND diet, sleep hygiene, and reduction of cortisol (stress hormone) to name a few – all delivered in a customized form of cognitive behavioral therapy.
While there’s an important place for medication, prescribing 7 to 10 psychoactive drugs for someone is not what’s best for anyone’s mental or physical wellbeing, said White, himself a conservative medication prescriber. White’s team gets to know each patient, going deep into their family histories and life-styles to learn what most influences them. It’s all about finding how to best help every patient optimize their brain wellness and improve their life quality. John Collins is a great example of the change Brain in Play’s techniques are making in people’s lives. Collins, a “classic prototype case,” has struggled with many issues since having pituitary brain surgery and being challenged with a neuro-autoimmune condition, said White, and had a chronically inflamed brain. Since meeting White and working with him, the Johnston resident is a changed man. Though he still has some challenges, Collins reports he successfully managed what was a deep chronic depression and is feeling much better. He shares that he is more functional and active than he has been in many years and now volunteers to helping others. Collins, who thanks to White is now a regular at Fight 2 Fitness, told The Breeze that meeting White and finding Brain in Play was a “God-send,” and has changed his life for the better.
The Whites have just created Brain in Play Nonprofit Foundation, to promote awareness of the company’s dual vision of saving youth athlete brains by preventing/healing concussions and preserving adult brains by preventing/improving memory problems caused by neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. The nonprofit’s offices are located in Warwick, RI.
The Whites and their partners will officially launch their nonprofit foundation and hold their first Brain in Play Foundation Golf Tournament on Oct. 13th at the Pawtucket Country Club. The Whites have received preliminary 501(c)(3) approval. Call 401-615-8775 for more information.