The Brucker Biofeedback Center

The Brucker Biofeedback Laboratory is at the Miami Jewish Home and Hospital. Dr Bernard S Brucker, who sadly died last year, is one of the founders and the original Co-Director of the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis. He is renowned all over the world for developing specific behavioral procedures for restoring function to people with physical disabilities.

The Brucker Method

Using state of the art technology, Brucker developed an operant learning technique specifically designed to teach an individual to detect and efficiently utilise any intact nerve pathways from their brain, brain stem and spinal cord to the affected muscle group. This is for the purpose of restoring function to people who have paralysis from central nervous system damage, in my case, a spinal cord injury. This is known as the “Brucker Method”.

How does Biofeedback treatment work?

The nerve signals from the C5/6 vertebrae of my spinal cord were damaged in the accident. Consequently, my brain is unable to control movement in certain parts of my body. Using EMG biofeedback procedures, the treatment was able to identify intact nerve pathways in certain muscles. Electrodes were connected to a specially designed computer which received and processed all the motor neuron activity from my spinal cord as it arrived at the particular muscle site. I could observe on the monitor how I was utilising this information in order to find any surviving cells in my spinal cord and connect them to the affected muscle site. Once learned, the recruited nerve cells are permanent, but the muscle then requires a programme of aggressive physiotherapy to increase its strength and function.

Was it beneficial?

I went to Miami for Biofeedback treatmemt in September 2003. After the introductory meeting with Dr Brucker, I had fifteen one hour sessions over three weeks. The results from this course of treatment indicate that I have intact nerve pathways in certain muscles: my shoulders, biceps, triceps, deltoids, wrists, hands, abdominals and back. I have since been building strength in these muscles through aggressive physiotherapy undertaken by my physiotherapist Sylvia Hogarth. This has led to greater strength and function and I'm still making good progress.

How much does the treatment cost?

The cost of the treatment is $200.00 per session. The real cost is the trip itself: the flights, accommodation, vehicle and equipment hire, etc. I also paid for three personal assistants to accompany me, which made the trip was extremely costly - about £15,000! The first trip was a learning experience, so I know where savings can be made for future trips. The cost of one trip to Miami would pay for a full nine courses of treatment if it was available in England!

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