New mind therapy incorporates hot springs | PostIndependent.com

New mind therapy incorporates hot springs

Lauryn Maloney-Gephert first realized she was on to something cutting-edge about 11 years ago.

For almost a decade, she had been working with a group of seniors who had lost most of their primary reflexes.

They were having trouble balancing and they fell a lot, she said, and for most of the time she had worked with them, she'd been struggling to find a way to connect their brains to their bodily movements.

One day, she decided to throw a ball to each person in the group, but nothing happened.

The next day she came with another approach, advising the class to first visualize themselves dropping, and then catching the ball.

When she led the group to finally perform the strategy, she says all 20 of the participants successfully executed.

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"I remember the hairs [on my body] standing up," Maloney-Gephert now says.

"These people were 85 to 95 years old," she added.

From that moment on, she continued studying and developing a program she now calls Neuroplastic Functional Training or NTF, a regimen that takes place inside and outside of the water, and works to promote healing.

The training helps to treat long-term orthopedic issues and the specialized approach, which incorporates the brain, has led her to treat some of the top athletes in the country.

She's worked hard over the past 41 years to fine-tune the program, and says that healing, freedom, functioning and love were the most important principles guiding her in refining it.

"If it gave [clients] physical function, I kept it. If it freed them up to not have physical issues, I kept it. That's how I got to where I am over those 41 years," she said.

The Yale School of Medicine graduate has extensive experience studying kinesiology, dance, choreography, physical therapy and medicine, and she says it wasn't until she read "The Brain That Changes Itself" by Norman Doidge that she started to see the importance of incorporating neuroplasticity into her treatment philosophy.

"The fact that the brain is not hard-wired or fixed gives us endless possibilities," she says.

She develops a unique program for each client and administers the training at Iron Mountain Hot Springs, as the warm water promotes relaxation and allows a client to stay in the water for an extended period of time.

Most courses run two or three times a week for five weeks, she said.

She starts by asking a client what their "neuroplastic GPS" is or what their long-term goals looks like, and then teaches the course based on that specific goal.

visualizing progress

"It's super ground breaking," said Soren Lindholm, a current client of Maloney-Gephert.

"It's not a very well-known thing, training your mind, body and spirit the way Lauryn has specialized in," he said.

Lindholm's goal was to regain movement in his legs, following a ski accident last year, which fractured his spine.

The 18-year-old says he was skeptical when he started the program but that he learned to trust Maloney-Gephert after about two or three months.

"She explained what she did and her background, that it was totally possible to get better, that I just needed to believe in myself and take it seriously," he said.

Since he started working with her 10 months ago, he's regained movement in his legs and says he uses each movement he regains to visualize the next movement he'll make.

"I think there's not a lot of hope after a spinal cord injury if you don't know about this sort of therapy," he said.

"I want to get better so I can share it with other people and prove to them that they can get better no matter what," Lindholm said.

Maloney-Gephert says Lindholm is a force to be reckoned with, and regained control in his legs in just five sessions.

"Soren is my hero because Soren is not to be stopped," she said.

Realizing that she's the only person in the valley using this type of training, Maloney-Gephert has decided to train other health care providers who want to use the same healing approach.

She's started a not-for-profit called "Healing Out Loud," and has scheduled the training for other providers from June 1-30 at Iron Mountain Hot Springs.

It's scheduled to run six hours a day, six days a week.

"Right now, there's only one Lauryn," said Kathy Lindholm, Soren's mother.

"Just think how many lives we could help change by supporting this effort," she said.

The course, called "Connect," will also give training, free of charge, to people with spinal cord injuries, who want to learn how to improve their function and quality of life.

Chance to help

There will be a fundraiser held from 5-7:30 p.m. May 25, at the Launch Pad in Carbondale, featuring music, dancing and fine arts performances choreographed by Maloney-Gephert.

There will be an open wine bar, hors d'oeuvres, designer cocktails, a silent auction and door prizes from local businesses and artists. The cost is a suggested $75 tax-deductible donation per person, with 100 percent of the proceeds directly benefiting local people with spinal cord injuries. Tickets are available at the door, she said.

"In my mind, it's a global way of helping people heal themselves," said Jeanne Beckley, co-owner of Iron Mountain Hot Springs.

Beckley said she didn't need to think twice when Maloney-Gephert asked if she'd allow her to administer NTF at the facility.

"I think what really struck me was her and Soren. I was just so fascinated to see the message she was using with him and the neuroplasticity. To just see that going on, to actually sit in the pool and watch the process, was so unbelievably fascinating to me," she said, adding that the training is a "huge gift to the valley."

Lindholm says he thinks his journey will be a life-long one, because he sees healing as never-ending.

"You can always keep getting better," he said.

"That's like the whole idea of this," he added.

Maloney-Gephert's approach has led additional clients to feel a life-long connection to her as well.

Larry Gephert, who became a quadriplegic two years ago, after falling off his motorcycle in Moab, says his cousin first introduced him to her.

When he met her he had regained the ability to walk but says he still felt robotic.

After meeting with her, he regained smoother movement and says one would never know he was once severely injured.

He says during his training, he was never told "no," and that Maloney-Gephert's "anything's possible" attitude drew him to her romantically.

The two married five months after they met, and he says the most powerful part of his recovery was the ability to have faith that he would walk again.

"I just set my mind to do it and never looked back."

HOL also has an online fundraising account, at https://www.gofundme.com/dqpt6-connecting, to help fund the Connect program.

Healing out loud fundraiser

Friday, May 25, 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., at the Launch Pad in Carbondale, featuring music, dancing, and fine arts performances choreographed by founder Lauryn Maloney-Gephert. Tickets at the door.

Or, donate to the HOLI Connect program online through GoFundMe.