Mental or physical struggles? These 3 Perham businesses have your back
Integrity Counseling and Dr. Big Brain both recently moved near Perham's Pizza Ranch. Alongside the moves, owners Vincent and Bridgit Pankonin opened a third business: Dr. Big Pain Solutions.
PERHAM — Emotional or physical pain, whatever someone may be suffering with, patients can go to one of three businesses all now located in the same convenient place.
Integrity Counseling and Dr. Big Brain, two Perham businesses operated by married couple Vincent Pankonin, DC (Doctor of Chiropractic), and Bridgit Pankonin, LPCC (Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor), recently relocated into much larger spaces. Alongside this relocation, the Pankonins took the opportunity to open up a third business: Dr. Big Pain Solutions. While these businesses all offer different services, they all have a similar goal: Help people change their lives for the better from a health standpoint.
"That's kind of the focus of all our businesses — all these three — just helping people change their life to something that's more where they want to be," Vincent said. "That's who we are, and that's what people can expect when they come see us."
This business venture all started about nine years ago when Bridgit opened Integrity Counseling in 2014, which offers both therapeutic and psychiatric medication evaluation care for all ages. Integrity also offers an intensive outpatient Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) program , which helps patients learn new behaviors and coping mechanisms for intense emotions or destructive behaviors.
This was Bridgit's only business for about seven years. That is, at least, until she heard about some services one of her patients was receiving, and it intrigued her.
"I had a client that was coming to me for counseling, and she mentioned that she was driving to Baxter, Minnesota, for this therapy she was doing," Bridgit recalled. "And I said, 'What are you doing?' And she said, 'Neurofeedback.' So I researched it, and I said, 'Why should we not have that here?' My husband had neurology training, so he would be a good candidate to get that certification and be able to provide that service."
Vincent, a chiropractor in Perham for almost 30 years, then began researching neurofeedback when he wasn't busy providing services at Perham Health. He agreed that providing neurofeedback in the Perham area was a good idea, so he got certified in "BrainCore" neurofeedback in 2021. From there, the business of Dr. Big Brain was born.
Though Dr. Big Brain offers neurofeedback right in Perham, this is a service many don't often know about. Put simply, it's a way of "retraining" the brain, Vincent and Bridgit shared.
Using an electroencephalogram (EEG), a patient's brain activity is recorded to create a brain map. This brain map is then compared to thousands of other people's to determine which areas of the brain have the most dysregulated patterns; from there, patterns are compared to the assessments a patient filled out. The evaluator will ask: How does the EEG correlate with struggles reported by the patient?
"We don't diagnose anything. You can come in and say, 'Well, my kid has ADHD,'" Vincent explained. "OK, so let's look at what his brain map really shows. Does he have an under-aroused brain, which is what we would think of with ADHD, or does he have an over-aroused brain that gives similar symptoms; but it's a different treatment plan? So it's much more specific at treating the underlying cause of what symptoms people come in with. At that point, now you have the information to at least make an informed decision. Do I want to go on with this or not? It's extremely safe."
From there, if patients wish to do so, they begin receiving neurofeedback. They're shown different visual and audio stimuli, such as a show they enjoy, and when their brain is in the new frequency chosen to reduce symptoms, the picture and audio stay bright and clear. When the brain falls back into its old frequency pattern, the picture and audio will dim. Since the patient enjoys being able to see or hear whatever they're watching, the brain will figure out how to do the work and find frequencies to keep the picture clear.
"Your brain does all the work. It's just being guided to a certain frequency while you're doing the neurofeedback," Vincent said. "It creates new connections. So, instead of going path A to B, it goes a different route that's more efficient and more regulated. And now, the symptoms you experience begin to diminish. You start noticing, 'I get upset, but I don't stay upset.' Or you manage your emotions. Or whatever it is you were feeling comes progressively less and less until you feel like you're at a stable point in your life."
Neurofeedback at Dr. Big Brain consists of about 45, 30-minute sessions. Vincent compared this retraining to riding a bike. Once you've ridden a bike as a child, you remember it as an adult even 20 years later. The goal of neurofeedback is to train the brain to go down different pathways that reduce symptoms of disorders such as ADHD, PTSD, anxiety and more.
Though the Pankonins have offered these services for a few years now, they recently added a third business to their roster: Dr. Big Pain Solutions. While Vincent was working at Dr. Big Brain for the past few years, he was continuing his work as a chiropractor at Perham Health. Recently, however, he sustained an injury that required surgery, which put a sudden halt in his chiropractic practice. He had to leave his job at the hospital earlier than intended. It seemed like a good idea to take a step back and take better care of himself, but he still wanted to do chiropractic work.
"There's where Dr. Big Pain Solutions kind of came about — to do (chiropractic work) on my own, part-time, and then still do Dr. Big Brain part-time," Vincent explained. "I deliver the same care that I've done for the whole time. I'm just in a new location and kind of a new venture. We're caregivers, and that's why I didn't want to quit. I didn't want to stop so abruptly … I still have the desire to help people."
Dr. Big Pain Solutions opened about a month ago when the Pankonins moved into their new space, located next to Pizza Ranch on Third Avenue Southeast. They offer the typical chiropractic readjustments alongside pain management care, such as laser therapy, acoustic wave therapy and spinal decompression therapy.
While Integrity Counseling, Dr. Big Brain and Dr. Big Pain Solutions are all separate businesses, they can all be found right by one another. For more information on Dr. Big Brain, go to drbigbrain.co, or call 218-210-2412. For more information on Integrity Counseling, go to intcounseling.com, or call 218-422-6131.
"I'm back," Vincent said. "I've been here a long time, and I've done a lot of different things, … but I still like to give back to the Perham community. I'm back at it."