From incredible bodies to brilliant brains, The Doctors explains the extraordinary!
Beating the Odds
A child trapped underwater for 25 minutes and a man whose heart stopped for more than an hour; hear how they lived to tell their death-defying tales.
Legally Blind Pitcher
Douglas, 15, was born with congenital glaucoma, a rare condition that causes the drainage mechanism in the eye to develop improperly, leading to fluid build up and damage to the optic nerve. While Douglas underwent five surgeries to contain his vision loss, he is legally blind. But despite his huge limitations, he never let his condition hold him back.
Douglas has been playing baseball since the age of 5, and by the time he was 10, achieved what many professional athletes can only hope for – he pitched a no-hitter.
But how can someone who’s visually impaired pitch a baseball with such success?
Ophthalmologist Dr. William Christian explains that since Douglas' sense of sight is declined, his other senses, such as how the baseball feels in his hand, are enhanced.
While throwing a no-hitter is often the pinnacle of an athletic career, Douglas has no plans of slowing down on his sport goals.
“I’m going to try out for the freshman football team,” he says.
"The Human Google"
Brad, 55, has been coined “The Human Google” after being diagnosed with hyperthymesia. Hyperthymesia is a superior autobiographical memory where a person is able to remember almost any day within their lifetime.
Brad says he’s always had an extraordinary memory, and over the years, he would be able to recall certain events and days on the calendar that other people in his family couldn’t. When playing Trivial Pursuit, he especially excelled at answering questions concerning certain dates.
Pediatrician Dr. Jim Sears asks Brad to describe how his astonishing rate of recollection occurs.
“Sometimes [my rate of recollection] is so fast that I don’t even have time to think about how it happens,” Brad says. “In many cases, it’s just automatic. Other times, I might have to visualize a month on the calendar or associate it with something else that happened right at the same time.”
Dr. Sears tests Brad’s memory on the spot. See how he does!
Increase Your Memory
• Eat brain foods: Omega-3 fatty acids and complex carbohydrates work as fuel for your brain.
• Enhance brain activity by getting enough exercise and sleep.
• Boost your senses: Surround yourself with bright colors and pleasant smells.
"The Human iPod"
It can take people years to master a craft, but for some like Derek, 32, it’s instantaneous. While completely blind and severely autistic, Derek is a musical prodigy. His brain is programmed like a computer, and he can remember every song he’s ever heard, and play it instantly on a piano.
While Derek’s talent is clear, where does genius like this come from? Furthermore, how can it co-exist with such severe disabilities?
“What the human brain can accomplish is stunning,” UCLA neurosurgeon Dr. Neil Martin says.
Dr. Martin explains that Derek has savant syndrome, a learning disability with a genius talent. About half of savant individuals are autistic, whereby deficiencies in one area are accompanied by unique abilities in another. The theory states that damage to one part of the brain can reveal heightened abilities in another. Those with fully functioning brains may have these abilities, but they are concealed or overridden by all functioning areas of the brain.
Dr. Martin says the more dramatic the brain damage, the more dramatic the artistic skills, as latent talents may not come to the forefront until all normal brain traffic disappears.
How Do Their Bodies Do That?
Cirque du Soleil performers bend and twist their bodies into unimaginable positions. Assistant director of performance medicine for Cirque du Soleil, Kerry Gordon, explains how contortionists attain their amazing flexibility and strength. Could you be a contortionist? Test your flexibility at home.
Build up your super-human strength:
• Pushups develop the muscles in your arms and your chest.
• Squats condition your thighs and gluteal muscles.
• Power yoga is a great way to increase flexibility, stamina and strength.
Adrian emails The Doctors and asks:
My mom was recently diagnosed with a tumor in her brain and is going to need radiation. I am concerned about the radiation harming healthy tissue and leading to further complications. Are there any new treatment options?
Dr. Martin explains the latest in radiation therapy, Novalis radiosurgery, a noninvasive, rapid procedure that delivers direct treatment to the tumor itself, with minimized damage to surrounding tissues.
“The goal is to kill the tumor and preserve the tissue,” Dr. Marin says.
“If you have a friend or relative dealing with cancer, pay attention, because there are [often] new advancements in treatment,” Dr. Travis says.