My clients know that I use therapeutic music called Quickshifts and Gearshifters in many pediatric therapy sessions. They use binaural beat technology (Binaural Beats and Regulation: More Than Music Therapy ) to induce an alpha brainwave state. This is the brain’s calm-alert state. Due to the unprecedented stress we are all under, I am using them myself. Every day, twice a day minimum. Here is why:
I am no good to anyone if I am vibrating with anxiety. There is only so much breath work can do for me. I need brain work.
The calm-alert brainwave state that Quickshifts and Gearshifters rapidly induces is effortless. Turn it on, (they can be purchased and loaded onto your phone through the free Therapeutic Listening app) wear the headphones, and it works perfectly without me doing anything else. I do have to stay off the screen stuff, but then, I should anyway. Mostly I take a walk (alone) or crochet.
I love music. Most of us do. I need music. Most of us do. I won’t listen to some droning boring sounds if I can listen to fun music instead. Quickshifts have children’s music, classical music and gentle techno music that isn’t aggravatingly boring.
The effects of altering brainwave states boost my immunity. And there has never been a better time for it.
I can bring it with me on a walk, so I get a double dose of healthy input.
It isn’t tiring or distracting.
I could use it more often than 2x/day. There is no danger or downside, unlike modulated music. Modulated music is a workout for your brain, and using it too close to bedtime can be a challenge. Quickshifts and Gearshifters are designed for anxiety and even trauma recovery. This pandemic is a trauma if I ever saw one.
I can use it alone at home. No one is getting massages, going to psychotherapy, or getting acupuncture. There is no neurofeedback machine in my house. I couldn’t go anywhere even if I wanted to. Enter Quickshifts.
Quickshifts and Gearshifters are best used when selected for a client by a trained OTR. Listening to the wrong album will not damage you or your child, but it is a waste of money and time. Two things most of us are running out of right now.
The use of binaural headphones or speakers placed close to the child allows the ears to hear the full range of sound with as little interference or absorption from the environment. It is important that the left and right ear are hearing the sounds separately. The echo-y sound? What you are hearing is the BBT; binaural beat technology. The slight alteration in sound frequency between what the brain hears from the left and right speakers forces it to synch up at a frequency that matches to level of difference.
It isn’t new. BBT has been used and researched since the 70’s. It is out there in many forms; you can even find it on YouTube. There are enough studies done to prove that this technology has real effects on alertness, attention and mood. It makes sense that therapists would like to use it to help kids with self-regulation issues. BBT is helpful for learning and self-regulation, but only if you know what brainwave state you want, and why you want it. And that is where skilled therapists can help.
But which one to use?
I only use Quickshifts in my therapy sessions.
Why do I prefer Quickshifts to deliver BBT?
Quickshifts entrain an alpha brainwave state. This state is associated with calm focus the ability to move to a more powerful focus or downshift into sleep, and, wait for it, interoception. Yup, the biggest new word in occupational therapy is interoception, and there are some excellent studies done by neuropsych researchers that indicate that alpha brainwave states increase interoception. Yeah! Interoception is the ability to perceive internal states, and this includes basic physiological states such as fatigue, hunger, and the need to eliminate. So many of our clients struggle with knowing what they feel. Quickshifts can help.
Alpha brainwave states are theorized to act as a gating mechanism for anxiety, which means they help kids block anxiety. Anxiety isn’t a great state for kids with ASD, SPD, or any of us. Anxiety is a component of so many diagnoses, and it isn’t easy to do cognitive behavioral strategies like CBT or DBT with children under 10 or 11. Quickshifts also work well for adults with anxiety as well! Should the PARENTS of Kids With Sensory Issues Use Quickshifts?
The music used in Quickshifts is very carefully designed to enhance specific functional states, and every occupational therapist is all about functional performance. We don’t want just relaxation; we want engagement in life. The way that Quickshifts uses music allows BBT to address specific behavioral performance abilities. There are albums for attention, for movement, and for regulation. They all use BBT. For each particular album, one functional goal will predominate. I don’t need to induce a meditative state in a child that is working on handwriting. I need calm focus and better movement control.
The avoidance of pure tonesmeans I don’t have to worry about seizure activity in kids with a seizure disorder. The use of pure tones is a risk for seizures, so if a child has frequent seizures, I can be confident that I am not increasing them with this treatment.
The choice of instrumentation on Quickshifts albums is often more grounding than other BBT choices. I want kids to feel grounded, not floating on a cloud. That state makes it harder to pay attention, to speak, move, etc. Being jolted into a high level of engagement without grounding isn’t great either. Remember: OT is all about functioning. This happens at that “just right” point of arousal.
There is a progression of instrumentation and rhythm on many Quickshift albums that guides the brain into more environmental awareness and postural activation, but it is done gently. Getting to an alpha state is a goal, but improving functional performance with less risk of overload is most important to me. I have to give kids the ability to leave our session in a great state of mind.