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Meet Jennifer Medina of Brain Space in Highlands

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jennifer Medina.

Jennifer, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
When was the last time you had a “check-up from the neck-up”? What do you do on a daily basis to support and protect your brain?! Brain Space is here to help!

I’m a Neuropsychologist, which means that I have a doctorate degree in Clinical Psychology, with a specialization (read: extra training in school) in Neuropsychology. My core skill set is to conduct diagnostic evaluations to help people understand their cognitive abilities, such as their memory, attention and concentration, language skills, etc. In my clinical practice, I work with individuals and families affected by neurological and cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s, brain injury, stroke, and memory disorders to name a few. I also have a passion for helping people cope with these conditions and I do this through psychotherapy. I use mindfulness and cognitive-behavioral strategies to support people and help them build skills to live with the challenges that are brought on by their neurological condition. I love the work that I do.

Over time, I have developed another passion, born from the prevention and wellness movement. As science becomes more sophisticated, we have a better understanding of what we can do to prevent disease and illness. This includes brain health! I developed Brain Space to give people the knowledge and understanding of what they can do to protect and support their brains. I am playing a small role in shifting our health care culture to promote a prevention mindset, rather than reacting to problems after they have started. I’m helping people take control of their health, from the neck up!

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It’s been quite a journey to build a practice from the ground up. Two things have challenged me the most: 1. our health care industry. As I’ve mentioned, our current paradigm lacks a prevention-based mindset, and this has to change! The more we focus on maximizing our health, and making healthy choices to support our body, mind, and emotions, the better we fare as we age.

Consumers of healthcare services (i.e., patients) and providers of services face challenges every day as they navigate our healthcare marketplace. It’s a consistent battle of finances (e.g., reimbursement rates, deductibles, cost of care), wait times, access to services, and the list goes on. Unfortunately, wellness services fall by the waist side. These challenges have inspired me to interact with the system in a different way. Ultimately, I want the work that I do to decrease the number of patients in my clinical practice because we’ve shifted to a mindset of prevention and taking care of our brains.

Being a business owner is my second biggest challenge. My graduate training did not prepare me for running a business! I’ve learned some things the hard way, and mostly had a lot of support from my business-minded husband, my community, and lots of resources available to small business owners, especially in the Denver community.

Please tell us about Brain Space. What should we know?
Brain Space offers a suite of services designed to help people focus on their cognitive wellness and brain health. There are four pillars that support a person’s individualized Brain Health Plan. The first pillar includes a brief cognitive assessment and interviews to understand a person’s unique cognitive style and the risk factors that we can support with the goal of optimizing their brain health. This results in a customized Brain Health Plan based on evidence-based recommendations to support cognitive wellness and brain health. The cognitive wellness plan focuses on enhancing skills such as memory and attention so that people can function at their best in their work, relationships, and personal life. The next pillar is focused on stress reduction and emotional health, by using mindfulness. Research shows that mindfulness and meditation can change the brain and improve well-being. Stress is bad for the brain, so this is a very important pillar!

Sleep hygiene is the 3rd pillar and very important for brain health. By helping people improve their sleep quality, we are supporting the brain and improving their ability to function at their best. The final pillar is focused on physical activity and nutrition. Each Brain Health Plan includes science-backed evidence to guide people towards making healthy diet and exercise choices that support the brain.

There are few individualized services out there that offer a Brain Health Plan that is comprehensive and multi-faceted. One of the most important features of Brain Space is having an accountability partner or coach (me!). Most of us have a general sense of how to take care of ourselves, but sometimes it can be hard to make changes! As a psychologist, I know how to help people be successful with changing their behaviors and I love talking to people about their brains! Having support along the way is so important.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
I stay engaged with the science and research findings about brain health that are emerging every day. Integrity is important to me and I place a high value on empirical evidence and science. I make this information make sense to individuals and relevant to their lives. I also try to practice what I teach! Having a wellness mindset is a lifelong process, and I’m travelling on my own journey, making choices each day to support my cognition, reduce stress, prioritize sleep, exercise and eat a healthy diet. Living sustainably is also important to me and all these things help me stay on my best path to having a healthy brain.

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