Brain Balance: An Innovation in Learning

At Shelterwood Academy, we are dedicated to offering teens the best innovative therapies, as part of their journey to real growth and transformation. We are proud to be the only residential therapeutic boarding school in the nation with the life-changing Brain Balance program located  on campus.

Our brains have two distinct hemispheres — right and left — and these hemispheres are unique in what they do and how they cross-communicate. “Brain Balance is based on the idea that our brain’s two hemispheres need to connect,” explains Rujon Morrison, Shelterwood Program Director. “People with functional disconnection syndrome have an imbalance between the brain’s hemispheres. Brain Balance was designed to isolate the strong hemisphere of the brain and then strengthen the weaker side.”

The Brain Balance program is a comprehensive, therapeutic protocol combining physical and sensory exercises with cognitive skill training. Renowned Chiropractic Neurologist, Dr. Robert Melillo, originally developed Brain Balance for stroke victims. As he continued his research, he discovered the protocol was helpful for children and teens with neurobehavioral disorders, too. He saw improvement in the areas of attention deficit, learning differences, processing issues and the autism spectrum.

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Rujon was already well into her professional career in educational psychology and neuroscience, when she heard about the Brain Balance program, but her intrigue in neurology started much earlier. “From a young age, I was fascinated with the brain,” Rujon says. This led her to pre-med studies and a career in neuroscience and educational psychology.

In her work, Rujon developed a protocol that isolated the strong hemisphere of the brain to work on the weak one — and witnessed her students’ IQs jump between 10 and 20 points. “At the time, there was no understanding of neuroplasticity, but the brain really can change and grow.”

While working in Georgia, Rujon met Amanda Gunter, a Harvard-taught special education professional, who directed the community’s Brain Balance center. The similarities between the Brain Balance program and her own protocol developments were uncanny. As a result, Rujon shared the vision with Amanda of opening a Brain Balance Center at Shelterwood, and the rest is history. Amanda  launched our Shelterwood Brain Balance Center, and hired a dynamic team to run this facility. Because Brain Balance is an adjunct program at Shelterwood, parents must elect to have their student take part in the program but the Brain Balance assessment is free of charge to all Shelterwood students, and the team reviews the findings with the parents, so they are well-equipped to decide if the program will benefit their teen.

“In Brain Balance, we’ve seen kids progress as much as three to four grade levels academically, and some of the behaviors they struggled with have subsided. While the impact of Brain Balance is often noticed first in the classroom, the program can even help strengthen a teen’s emotional intelligence. “Many struggling teens lack connection with themselves or others when empathy is needed, and is one of the characteristics we are developing within Brain Balance protocol,” Rujon says.

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Success stories at the Shelterwood Brain Balance center are many, but one young man stands out to Rujon. Having faced much trauma, this teen developed manipulative behaviors. As a bully to his peers, he struggled to build friendships. After some time at Shelterwood, he wasn’t making progress; then, Brain Balance marked the turning point. His parents chose to enroll him in Brain Balance and they began to see a change. They started to see empathy and a tremendous decrease in his lying. He also began to take responsibility for his own actions. After a few more sessions, he was no longer stuck academically. His confidence was stronger than ever. “Really, everything changed for this young man,” Rujon smiles.  Over and over, parents and teens are encouraged and value the difference participation in the Brain Balance therapy provides for students.