In this episode of The NeuFit Undercurrent, I talk with Dr. Lauren Leiva, DPT of The Exerscience Center in Lutz, Florida about how she used her own resilience and mindset to not only heal herself, but also create a thriving integrative physical therapy practice to make massive changes to her patient’s lives.
Lauren details her struggles with Crohn’s and a pregnancy that left her hospitalized for 9 months that would have caused most people to throw in the towel and relegate themselves to a life of “less than.” Not only was she able to get back to a baseline of health, she’s been able to take her own progress past any other conceived limitations.
[Garrett salpeter] 0:41
Welcome to the undercurrent podcast, I’m so excited for this episode, we have Lauren Leyva, Doctor of Physical Therapy and founder of the extra Science Centre in Lutz, Florida, just outside of Tampa. Lauren, thank you so much for joining us today.
[Dr. Lauren Leiva] 0:58
How are you? Thank you for having me.
[Garrett salpeter] 1:00
I’m excited for this episode. I’ve I know a little bit about your both personal and professional stories. And so I’m so excited to share that with our listeners and super grateful to you for coming on here. So thank you. You’re welcome. I’m excited to be here. So let’s start. Let’s start actually, with your personal story. So you know, before we get into your practice, and how you’re using the newbie with patients and all that, can you tell us a little bit about your, your personal story and the journey you’ve been through? Gotcha.
[Dr. Lauren Leiva] 1:35
So my story and I’ll just start that. My mother was very holistic and always brought me to yoga class and jumping on the beach. So I always had a very yogic philosophy. Stay positive, think mind over matter, stuff like that. So I’m blessed to have that as a foundation in my life. And that has helped me because when I turned 13, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, and then later on rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, kind of all of those things, tie together those auto immune issues, but I still kind of battled it out. I was an athlete, a figure skater, volleyball player throughout middle school, high school.
[Dr. Lauren Leiva] 2:19
But then in college, my mother had a stroke, different things. So the stress was bothering me. And then when I got pregnant, I ended up hospitalised for about nine months. And it was very, very difficult in and if and if I didn’t have that mind over matter, philosophy, I don’t know if I would have made it out. I definitely would not be here with you today. But I was pregnant, and the hospital was checking an abscess, they cut my intestines. I ended up septic and that’s how I was hospitalised for nine months because I refuse to have an abortion. All the doctors all the specialists came in and told me your child will be like this, you’re going to end up and for no better words dead. They told my nine year old son this, my husband, my father, my family to tell me to you know, have the abortion and clean up everything inside of me.
[Dr. Lauren Leiva] 3:17
My mind had different, different wavelengths. And I knew, thank God, I had the education to read, you know, the imaging reports I saw he had two hemispheres his spinal cord was closing. But you know, God had other plans. I ended up transferring hospitals twice. The Cleveland Clinic saved my life. And I did not leave the hospital till my son was four months old. The whole time I had a PICC line in my arm shooting Dilaudid, morphine, all of this terrible stuff to just take away my pain unnaturally. To the point I lost feeling in my shoulder blade, my whole arm. And it was radiating pain constantly. I was my mom and I was hitting my hand on things, putting my hand on hot cars in parking lots, anything to take away what was happening.
[Dr. Lauren Leiva] 4:11
As well as I was a new grad and I never quit school. Throughout all of this, I graduated. And I found Jason was in Tampa. Because not only was I looking for a job, but I was looking for a job at a place that, you know, respected the technology of tomorrow and included really new ways to treat their patients. So Jason was like, what are you coming here? I don’t have a job posting you know listed, but you’re very unique, and we have a new fit training tomorrow. So God works in mysterious ways because I cleared my whole schedule. And I spent the whole day there learning with other doctors and I was just so blessed because I’m truly a lifelong learner. And I instantly knew I had to buy the machine I didn’t even have a practice or a job.
[Dr. Lauren Leiva] 5:02
But like, it’s really pathetic, because I don’t know if I’m the only one who did payment plans for you guys. But I was like, I need that machine. So I did payment plans as a new grad just because I, I respect technology and innovation. And I knew right away that it made sense. And it worked. So I used it on myself and I actually have zero pain in my left arm. Zero pain, I’m not going to say that it’s perfect, because I actually, I can’t feel my finger, you know, here, but at least I don’t feel like my hand, I want to cut it off, you know. So and I don’t feel that hot and cold yet, but maybe it’ll happen. Maybe not.
[Dr. Lauren Leiva] 5:47
But at least during my yoga practice for all you Yogi’s out there. I don’t know if people know what pushing syndrome is. But it’s common after some people have a stroke and they lose feeling of half their body, they sometimes keep pushing their body this way just to feel it because they don’t feel it. So during my yoga practice, I was shifting my playing. So I was shifting my whole body, even though my leg, just everything was off, and it was affecting my collarbone, my neck. You know, when your body is compensating, it’s just it was just terrible. I was getting pain everywhere else. So I just started treating different areas of my body. And I am where I am today, just constantly using each breath as a moment to connect with myself. And then I reset my plan of care. And I have a newbie so I can treat myself all day.
[Garrett salpeter] 6:41
So you got your machine that was eight 910 months ago, somewhere in there, right? Yeah,
[Dr. Lauren Leiva] 6:50
I got a I feel like I almost got it instantly, but I probably harassed Jason. And then unfortunately, I’m I had two car accidents. So when t boned me. And I went for Jason for therapy because I wanted no offence, Jason, I’m kidding, I want to use the newbie on me teach me more, as well as heal my pain. Because once you go to a practitioner who has the newbie, it really doesn’t make sense to go anywhere else. So that’s also why I included in my practice with other bio hacking modalities, because if you can hack your system, why not? I mean, that’s what we do. So if I can do my job four times faster and easier, why not?
[Garrett salpeter] 7:37
Yeah. So that’s, that’s awesome. Thank you for sharing your story. And I mean, one, I think it’s super inspiring how you talk about mind over matter, and how, you know, they gave you an answer that you really felt called to, to do better and when multiple places and just you know, didn’t take no for an answer. I mean, I don’t
[Dr. Lauren Leiva] 8:03
Know if I mentioned here, but you know, they even gave me a colostomy bag. I don’t know if I said it here another time. But they did so many surgeries on me. They took out the parts of my body that they said I would never go to the bathroom normal again. And I do. So I just wanted to say the mind over matter. i When anybody tells me I can it’s an opportunity again for me to wonder if it’s something I want to do first of all, because I’m not I’m not a toddler throwing a tantrum, I can do anything. But if something I want to do, I always rip the T off because I think everybody can do anything they want, if they put their mind to it.
[Garrett salpeter] 8:44
Amen, amen. I’m so excited that that we were able to connect, you’re able to work with Jason and see and that the newbie was a tool that could support you on this journey because I share that same belief that if we can get the right tools and resources and have the right mindset and get everything working in our favour that we can overcome tremendous obstacles. And you are very inspiring example of that.
[Dr. Lauren Leiva] 9:09
Thank you and not even just for me, but my patients, you know, they find me whether it’s directly or through your site, and they say you know, because of your story, I want to go with you. You know you lived it. And a lot of people might not have that mind over matter philosophy and it really all starts in here and then the rest will follow so and then the new newbie machine, even my patients that are learning how to walk again I have it almost switched my practice to completely neuro which is my passion.
[Dr. Lauren Leiva] 9:43
I get Parkinson’s disease stroke. We’ve had a SPG seven which is something new. I’ve been working with spastic paraplegia gene seven. A lot of my patients follow Dr. Terry walls so then you know, they want to do the foot baths, the master reset. And what they find out is not only are they maintaining their baseline, they’re improving. And not only are they improving, but one of my patients are significant others like, are you working out there because your body is changing. And that was just really an amazing message I read from my client, because her goal was not for any body image change. And that was just a complete side effect of her being able to walk not use a walker, not in a wheelchair so that it’s been such a blessing to give what I’ve done to myself to others, because they think I’m a miracle. And I said, I’m just using the techniques that are put on the table. So that’s awesome.
[Garrett salpeter] 10:48
That’s awesome. So just to recap for all of our listeners. So you when you first started working with Jason, the physical therapists in Tampa, I got exposed to the newbie you did not have your practice yet. And then it was opening was also further delayed because of COVID. So you’ve only really officially been open for a few months at the exercise centre.
[Dr. Lauren Leiva] 11:08
Science Center’s been open since 2015. But I was doing personal training group fitness in yoga. Oh, yes, yes. And in 2018, I got my doctorate in physical therapy. So I wanted to transition my practice. And because I’m a lifelong learner, even though I was keeping my own practice, I also wanted to learn, you know, I always just, I don’t even care about the money, I just want to learn from somebody. So that’s why I was going out to get the job for experience, and because he has good feedback on his practice. And I opened my physical therapy practice August 1 and ludes. So it’s kind of like I did just open it, because now it’s a whole new centre.
[Garrett salpeter] 11:49
Yes, yes. So the the new the new iteration of the extra Science Centre now with physical therapy, and that’s, that’s awesome, how it has helped to attract new types of patients. And that’s great, you know, get more of those neuro population patients. And I know that you have a really interesting mix of services, some of the original iteration of extra Science Centre is still there. And in terms of yoga, and the emphasis on fitness, emphasis on on mind over matter. And that philosophy, can you tell us about the whole kind of suite of services that you have now in the in the current centre.
[Dr. Lauren Leiva] 12:29
So we are having a state of the art, sensory deprivation float tank, it’s being made right now in the USA in California, they’re making them a little bit different because of COVID. You know, how they filter the water and all the things they have, you know, this hair capture system, but we have a sensory deprivation float tank. And if you’re a floater, you already know, but if not, it’s a great way to connect with yourself.
[Dr. Lauren Leiva] 12:56
And if you have trouble meditating, we have ways that we can guide you through the beginning so you’re comfortable, and then you can go into your own floating experience. We also have a halo generator and a salt cave. So we bought a sauna and turn it into a salt cave with a halo generator. So just like any salt room, if you study halo therapy for sinuses, for just lungs, everything, it helps with allergies, you know, inflammation and helps bring your body to that nice equilibrium.
[Garrett salpeter] 13:31
Just share a little more detail on what exactly that is for. For people are listening.
[Dr. Lauren Leiva] 13:37
Okay, yes, I tend to do that sometimes just because I you know, and I watched one of your podcasts about I think you’ve said like to get a little more detailed with the newbie, just because I know what it is when I tell people I have to like really tell them because I’ve been studying and so much but halotherapy Halo is salts and therapy is therapy. So when you go to the salt rooms, they have a halo generator.
[Dr. Lauren Leiva] 14:04
So it is a machine that you pour medical grade salt into it and you can add essential oils and different things to uplift your experience if you want, but then it is diffused into the room. So your breathing this salts which helps your deepen your breath to that diaphragmatic breathing, which goes into the autonomic nervous system, the system that you cannot control. You know, like when you’re if God forbid you’ve ever been pulled over for speeding when your heart drops. You know when you get really nervous and helps change your nervousness, your anxiety, which improves your metabolism, your circulation just like the master reset. So when you have all of these things working together to bring your autonomic nervous system to a parasympathetic state, I mean you’re just living your coolest life ever. Right?
[Garrett salpeter] 15:00
So, that’s awesome. I love the suite of services there, the way you’ve been able to combine those. So you’ll have
[Dr. Lauren Leiva] 15:07
The PMF mat, you know, the beamer mat. So again, just different things, we have a vibration plate. So if it’s if you’ve looked it up, and it’s in a bio hacking blog and as evidence based and proven we probably haven’t.
[Garrett salpeter] 15:24
And what so in terms of the model on how you work in your practice, what’s the, the typical patient or client path? Do they do they come in for physical therapy, and then do other wellness things after do they come in for wellness, sometimes separately, what’s the go right
[Dr. Lauren Leiva] 15:44
now, it’s more of a Holistic Therapist, spa, all private pay, we are going to be accepting insurances to them, because they know COVID has affected some people’s ability to private pay their therapy. So we’re separating the business to where we’re having the the therapy side, excuse me traditional. But we also have the holistic therapy model, where it’s a monthly membership, people come, you know, once a week or more depending on what they pick, and then we create a plan of care in the beginning.
[Dr. Lauren Leiva] 16:16
So whether they see me once 123 times a week, for one on one, manual therapy, including the newbie, or vibration plate training, it’s basically I hope, whatever they’re coming to me for, as long as it’s within my scope, and we’re, we’re, we’re just doing, you know, using all of the modalities to get them better. So it’s more of a membership plan, they come once a week or three times a week, and they just use all of the services. So when the floatation pot is in, we’re going to have on add on, so maybe float, you know, once a week or once a month, and then that’ll just be there for them to schedule when they come for therapy. And then we have a shower, we just installed a really nice shower, so people can shower before and after the salts, the sauna, the deprivation tank, because cleaning, as you know, before COVID was very important to me, I’m glad it’s important to everybody. Now, after COVID, I always maintain a clean atmosphere, so you guys can trust that.
[Garrett salpeter] 17:18
That’s awesome. So it’s really cool. I love all of those technologies that you have and how complementary everything is, especially when it is around this unifying theme that you have of, you know, trusting that if you get the body into the right state that it can heal, it can overcome trauma, and it can recover from things that that, you know, even other people may have said were impossible.
[Dr. Lauren Leiva] 17:44
Yeah, and we’re talking about, you know, online meds, patient classes, yoga nidra. Some people don’t know what that is, but it’s a whole class where it’s a deep day, I hope I can use that facility in Austin, where I have 20 machines, because to me, that’s my goal, you know, where everybody’s mastery setting David Watson
[Garrett salpeter] 18:11
Will, will share some notes. And we’ll compare notes on that you and I, we can talk about that. And let’s get that going down there.
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[Garrett salpeter] 18:56
So, one last one last question before we will let everyone know how they can can find you online and such. Are there any outside of your own any success stories or patient experiences that stand out as kind of the really solidifying or really impactful experiences or outcomes that you’ve seen?
[Dr. Lauren Leiva] 19:19
Yes, I have had a patient who came to me and she had a diagnosis of SPG seven, and her doctor told her she was not going to possibly be walking and you know, a year or two. It’s a degenerative diagnosis. Something that I was fairly new with. I never had somebody with that diagnosis, but it kind of follows a little bit CP, symptoms of gait and stuff like that. When she came to me, she she couldn’t walk that well. And she was getting ready to you know, get in system. Now she’s not only walking well, but she’s getting those muscle mass changes in her body. She’s taking she’s doing yoga with me. So it went past just learning how to walk again. It’s now we’re in Warrior poses, and we’re standing on one leg, and we’re, you know, we’re taking it to the next level. And that’s how my philosophy really is, is there’s no ceiling, if you don’t put a ceiling there, you know.
[Dr. Lauren Leiva] 20:29
So I want people to not just get better. I always ask them, you know, close your eyes, and where do you see yourself if you could do anything, you know? And then that’s my end. And then some people say why, like your physical therapist, what do you care? And some people say, I want to skydive. Well, why not? You know, like, we can modify things and get you there. And I just love to really go right into what is their dreams and make them happen. And, you know, from kids, to seniors, and another one of my success stories is a patient with Parkinson’s. And I had him he was in a skilled nursing facility, he could not walk 20 feet. So of course, you know, he was using the restroom bedside, or in the bed, and there’s just a deterioration that happens when you’re hospitalised, institutionalised, sedentary, you know, pressure ulcers, all of that. So it was a big mission for me to get him out of the hospital and better. And this is also why I work for myself, because no offence to like huge systems, but I not only wanted to walk in past 20 feet, because you know, everybody, every therapist knows when you work in a specific place, there’s a specific recommendation on how far you can walk them.
[Dr. Lauren Leiva] 21:50
And you can ask my past jobs that I would get in trouble for writing unlimited distances. And they said, well, you have to put it I’m like, why? Because if if our appointment was longer, we can keep walking. Or why is Lauren outside walking her patients over the curbs and on the grass, but I’m like, I got to get out of this hospital. That’s our goal, you know, so. And then he actually still sees me. And not only he got, he has a completely fused ankle, and he’s a veteran and stuff like this. But he’s also in tree pose.
[Dr. Lauren Leiva] 22:26
A guy who he always used to tell me, you can take a horse to water, but he am not going to swim. And now he’s women. Okay, so he’s meditating, you know, bringing his awareness inward. And that doesn’t mean he might not be holding two chairs, okay? Because but in his mind, he might be playing piano on two chairs, while he’s holding them doing a tree because he can do the tree, you know, so I just kind of I brought someone who wasn’t walking and going to the bathroom to he’s, you know, squatting 17 times in a row, walking on the distances, because every time I got up to 800, I just quit measuring I didn’t want to anymore. You know, so it’s really just, I’ve tonnes of stories like that, where I go past the goals. And when you’re working at certain places, like whoa, you know, now what’s happening here. I’m like, Hey, I blast past goals. We go to unlimited places. And that’s, that’s where I found that the newbie really helped me get there with certain individuals just through kind of, they joke with me, but I say, kind of zapping them out of their mentality.
[Garrett salpeter] 23:33
Oh, that’s a great way to put it. Yeah, I
[Dr. Lauren Leiva] 23:35
Did. Exactly the way their mentality is I can’t, you know, I just come, I’m going to have to wrap it up a little higher.
[Garrett salpeter] 23:46
Oh, that’s fabulous. So the, that’s really good, really inspiring and a great, great perspective on that if I think we could think I’d love to hear more of these and talk all day here. If people if people do want any more such doses of inspiration, what’s the best way to, you know, to see your work? You know, follow you on social media or kind of where are you? Where are you most active? What’s the best way to follow you? Oh,
[Dr. Lauren Leiva] 24:15
The best and easiest way to follow me is to go to the extra science centre.com. And if they go there, there’s links to all my social media right on the top. I have a great office manager web team that put everything there conveniently, or you go on Instagram, you know, the exercise centre or Facebook exercise centre. But the easiest way is just going to the website and all the links are on the top,
[Garrett salpeter] 24:42
Right, and we’ll post a link to your website in the in the notes here, and also a link to the particular subpage where they can see your inspirational story as well. So thank you, thank you so much for coming on and sharing your story. It’s awesome. I’m not only how you’ve helped yourself, but how you then turn that around to helping many, many patients and making a tremendous impact. And we are grateful to be working with you. Thank you for the wonderful work that you’re doing. Keep it up.
[Dr. Lauren Leiva] 25:13
Thank you for your mission of helping me you know, get better and helping others. So thanks for having
[Garrett salpeter] 25:20
A wonderful collaboration and partnership. Thank you.
[Garrett salpeter] 25:26
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