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Simple, Fast and Accurate

Spectral analysis is as simple as having a few electrodes on your chest (similar to an EKG) and blood pressure cuff on your arm; it takes only seventeen minutes while sitting in a chair.  There are no uncomfortable shocks or painful needles.

Simply put, spectral analysis accurately evaluates autonomic function by capturing the signals of the sympathetic and parasympathetic of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) as they communicate with the heart.  Incorrect functioning of the ANS from brain injuries makes it difficult for the body to adapt to the wide array of physical and emotional stressors encountered on a day-to-day basis.

The signals from the heart itself and the ANS are blended together in a manner similar to the variety of signals coming to one’s home from the cable/internet service.  In the home, the signal is put into a cable box that separates the signals into a variety of distinct television channels.

In a similar fashion, spectral analysis takes the single electrical impulse from the electrocardiogram lead wires that are attached to the patient’s chest, and separates the cardiac and autonomic signals by their unique individual frequencies.  Spectral analysis is thereby able to directly measurement both autonomic branches simultaneously in a rapid and non-invasive manner.

Spectral Analysis Testing Equipment


Prior testing is not necessary to determine if underlying autonomic damage exists.  Clinical history is often ample to determine a general time frame that the unresolved brain injury occurred. Any variation from the well-defined normal responses is scientifically valid evidence of autonomic damage.  The measurement of autonomic function via spectral analysis has been utilized in almost 3,000 different research publications.

In experiments comparing spectral analysis of autonomic function to traditional “gold-standard” autonomic function tests often used in autonomic research, there was a high (83%) correlation between the results of both techniques. Differences can probably be traced back to the greater sensitivity of spectral analysis, which can show disorders even at very early stages. Furthermore, spectral analysis has proved to be an easier, less stressful and faster method during daily routine use.

The 4 Components of the Test

Spectral analysis utilizing the ANSAR ANX 3.0 software utilizes 4 autonomic testing maneuvers known as Resting Baseline Test, Deep Breathing, Valsalva Maneuver and the 5-Minute Stand.  Each testing component provides a different view of autonomic functioning.

The first testing component, the Resting Baseline Test involves having the subject sit quietly for 5 minutes while measuring sympathetic and parasympathetic electrical activity, blood pressure and pulse.  This gives a good measure of resting sympathovagal tone and overall autonomic health.

Resting Baseline Test

Resting Baseline Test

Damage noted in the Resting Baseline Test often can demonstrate weakness of both parasympathetic and sympathetic functioning known as low heart rate variability (HRV).   Low HRV is associated with an increased risk of death from all causes.  Low HRV makes the brain unable to command the body to respond correctly to stressors such as injury, pneumonia, heart attacks, or cancer.

The Resting Baseline Test may also detect cardiac autonomic neuropathy, a state of extreme sympathetic-parasympathetic imbalance that is associated with increase risk from cardiac arrest.  It may also detect elevated HRV, the underlying phenomena responsible for cardiac arrhythmias such as atrial fibrillation and atrial flutter.

The second testing component is Deep Breathing, and involves the slowed controlled inhalation and exhalation of 6 breaths over a 1-minute time frame.  This tests for the ability of the brain to increase parasympathetic drive while under stress.

Deep Breathing

Deep Breathing Test Normal

Damage here is reflected as a weakness in parasympathetic signaling, and is associated with increased inflammation in brain, joints, tissues, worsening of autoimmune disorders.  The normal control of inflammation within the brain is critical for proper recovery from brain injuries.

Impaired parasympathetic functioning also contributes to heartburn, constipation, bloating and cramping, sleep disturbances and leads to abnormal hormone regulation.

The third and fourth components, the Valsalva Maneuver and the 5-Minute Stand test measure both sympathetic and parasympathetic functioning simultaneously.  These tests shift the burden of maintaining proper brain blood pressure and oxygen delivery to the sympathetic branch requiring the simultaneous increase in sympathetic activation with a balanced decrease in parasympathetic activation.

Valsalva Maneuver

Valsalva Test Normal

5-Minute Stand Test

Stand Test Normal 

Excessive parasympathetic activation on either of these tests is known as paradoxical parasympathetic syndrome and leads to the development of poor exercise recovery, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, non-restorative sleep, headaches, erectile dysfunction, bladder dysfunction, and hot flashes.

A weak sympathetic response is referred to as sympathetic withdrawal and leads to the development of poor focus, poor memory and concentration, impaired vision in dim light, altered balance, anxiousness, fatigue, headaches, neck tightness, hand numbness, and increased thirst.

Sympathetic withdrawal also causes increased hunger leading to obesity, and increasing the subsequent risk of developing diabetes, cancer, heart disease, heart failure, clotting disorders, macular degeneration, ALS, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Collectively, these 4 tests provide a rapid, precise and easily repeatable method to assess recovery from traumatic brain injury as well to assess and design treatment regimens that can accelerate recovery.

Reversal of Brain Injury

Achieving a healthy inflammatory process that results in complete recovery from brain injury requires the normal activation of a specialized white blood cell known as the microglia.  Click here to see an example of traumatic brain injury recovery or read more about LPS-activated microglia and their role in preventing brain recovery.

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