Dr. Bookspan's Extreme Research
My work is the study of the human body in extremes of environment: cold, heat, altitude, immersion, G-forces, micro-gravity, forensics, military maneuvers, exercise, high and low air pressures (hypobarics and hyperbarics) - how to survive and perform better in these environments and fix injuries from them. As a child, I sat in the snow watching my father and grandfather walk barefoot over ice and snow to go ocean swimming every day. My grandfather was the oldest member of "The Icebergs" ice swimming club.
Scroll down for rare photos and free articles about it all from high to low. Don't miss the Dancing Penguin bio link at the end. Keep scrolling and reading.
Site Map at the bottom of this page for links to the rest of my large fun web site, plus buttons to SHARE, TWEET, and LIKE.
Fixing Injury and Pain Research
Functional Exercise, Better Biomechanics, and Top Training
My career as research physiologist took me to military, university, and training centers from undersea to mountaintop to jet cockpit. I was given the toughest assignments to find why common training and rehabilitation methods don't work, and what does. Strong brave men got hazardous duty pay just to have a day with me. Methods I developed are now learned in school by doctors, trainers, physical therapists, Navy divers, chamber operators, combat swimmers, police and military, and top athletes. Doctors and fitness instructors come to me as patients to find out why they have back and other pain and what to do about it. I pioneered functional fitness training. Click here for Functional Training, and click here for Appointment Info to learn top training for yourself or your groups. I was the first to develop fitness programs aboard cruise ships, and was told it would "never catch on" - photos and stories below, keep scrolling.
Dr. Bookspan photo by Robert Troia. Click the Bio page for the story.
"It seems the movie heroine Laura Croft, played by Angelina Jolie, was created based on you.
In case you didn't see it, think of Indiana Jones."
- Karen Kukurin, Los Angeles
Articles on Fixing Pain and Changing Fitness and Medicine to be Healthy -
Not all Exercise is Medicine
I put many of my summary articles on fixing pain here on my web site. Some of them grew from patient handouts that physician colleagues asked me to write to replace the ones they used.
Here are some to fix pain
NECK painBACK pain
Fixing main causes of KNEE pain
DISC pain and sciatica
Healthier pain-free SITTING
Here are some for saner, smarter, healthier fitness
Abdominal and core muscle function
Years in the lab to study what abdominal muscles really do, why crunches and flexion-based abdominal training weren't helping as hoped, and what was found to work better: studies and background is on the Ab Syllabus
Lower body function and healthiest movement
More years of lab and field research developing methods to fix lower limb and knee pain in the way you actually need to move and function. See the results, including summary of one 11 year study: Click the Lower Body Revolution Syllabus.
My years of laboratory research, measuring and testing hundreds of subjects, found no relation between hamstring flexibility and back pain. That finding wasn't given notice until other names in sports medicine found the same: Here's some of my research on What Hamstrings Have To Do With Back Pain.
Nutrition - Healthier for you and the people who bring it to you
How other people got better
Thai MassageIn Thai massage, also called Thai Yoga Massage, you wear comfortable clothes and bare feet to receive wonderful stretches and presses to your legs, feet, arms, hands, back, and whole body. I worked years to understand which claims were wishful thinking and exaggerations, and how to do techniques that can benefit without causing more problems. Read about it, plus how to schedule a great-feeling session for yourself or friend, on my Thai Massage page.
More articles, how to get appointments, and ways to make life simpler and healthier
See my Clinical Page.
My credentials and work
I never thought it mattered to tell about myself. After all, it's my work that matters - what I can do for you. Students told me it helped them to know about me. This page that you are on now tells some of the interesting work. See the following two pages for more:
The Bio page has some of my schooling, and a photo of me at age 9 winning the science fair - your entertainment at my expense.
The Rare Photos page has some stories of my early work, how I put the first fitness programs on cruise ships, and the years after the accident - "The years I thought I'd never mention again."
Site Navigation Links and Sharing ButtonsEducation is crucial to world health. I make my web site available for a better world. There are hundreds of articles here. Find main navigation links (Site Map) at the bottom of this, and every page, along with Sharing Buttons.
On Aug 22, 2016, Christine G. wrote:
"Your web site is a library full of information that everyone needs to see, learn and practice. Thank you for providing so much lifesaving information."
Photo of Dr. Bookspan and eagle friend. Photo © Paul Plevakas
Diving, Hyperbarics, Altitude, and Extreme Environment Research
Conducting altitude decompression studies at UPenn Medical School.
Free-diving moorings for the pioneering program preventing anchor damage.
Since I was a child, I wanted to study science under the sea. I grew up to study decompression physiology, diving maneuvers and countermeasures for SEAL teams and combat swimmers, oxygen toxicity and exercise during submersion. I lived and worked in laboratories underwater, competed in cold water middle distance swims, taught SCUBA, studied the Ama-San diving women of Japan, and researched barometric effects on human performance. I have studied combat swimmers and done extreme swims with them for fun. For military survival protocols, we blasted pilots in ejection towers and spun them in centrifuges and other scientific thing-a-ma-bobs. I put men in vats of freezing water to see how we can keep pilots alive after bail-outs and how to get covert swimmers to their objective, and, I found out, an entire separate topic to get them back again.
As a SCUBA instructor and hyperbaric researcher working at an underwater lab studying saturation decompression, we opened valves of full scuba tanks and rode them underwater and at the surface like bucking broncos. I studied thermal and decompression protocols with the top developers of computer-modeled cold prediction programming of the day. We made rebreathers out of hot water bottles. We rode bikes underwater.
I found a bubble component to altitude sickness - back in the 1980s and 1990s.
I wrote a grant to get the study, and used Doppler ultrasound to detect and score decompression bubbles developed in the bloodstream during altitude exposure during actual flights. In my first tests, a friend pilot flew us in a Comanche. I Dopplered us both during several flights. Before my work, bubbles were assumed to occur only after ascent from underwater to surface. Altitude sickness was assumed to be from hypoxia. I found bubbles when going to altitude from sea level.
With this "pilot" data, I did more work to study bubbles in human subjects using a hypobaric chamber (altitude chamber) to simulate specific altitudes, and at specific speeds of ascent.
I reported my findings to the division where I worked as US Navy research physiologist. They did not like it at all because it would fix some errors and the US Navy has no errors. I published some declassified info in articles for dive and wilderness medicine magazines.
Before digital cameras you took a few snaps then waited to develop the film to see what you took. We are in flight. I am removing a precordial (chest) monitor from myself. The lab reversed the print, making it look like I sat left seat (pilot). Funny.
"Dr. Bookspan, How could we forget the best of the best? Thanks for all your years of service."
- Randy Shaw, National Association of SCUBA Instructors (NAUI Worldwide) Training Department
My Web Page of Diving and Aerospace Stories
Click here for Higher, Deeper, Smarter - My Work In Aviation, Aerospace, Diving, and Hyperbarics
Some Articles on SCUBA, Hyperbarics, Extreme Environments From My Column, The Fitness Fixer
The Fitness Fixer was my column on Healthline from 2006 to 2010 - almost 800 articles. Healthline ended my column in 2010 and removed most photos, all movies, and reader comments. Later, they removed almost all the articles and redirected my links to their own articles. I found some original articles remain on the BlogSpot archive which was used to upload my articles to them. Format is not pretty as it once was, but the words are mostly there. I hope these still load, let me know:
SCUBA diving science and medicine. I may have found one archive allowing the "label" to work - click this for most of the SCUBA articles together- http://healthlinefitnessfixer.blogspot.com/search/label/scuba
BREATHHOLD DIVING - Here is the Blogspot archive that allows the "label tag" to group most of the articles on breath hold diving - http://healthlinefitnessfixer.blogspot.com/search/label/breath-hold%20diving
HYPERBARIC science and medicine - hyperbarics.
SWIMMING science and medicine - swimming.
PULMONARY EDEMA/OEDEMA science and medicine -pulmonary edema.
COLD science and medicine - cold.
HEAT science and medicine - exercise in the heat.
AEROSPACE science and medicine. A Blogspot archive of many of the articles together: http://healthlinefitnessfixer.blogspot.com/search/label/aerospace
ALTITUDE science and medicine - altitude.
g-FORCE and ACCELERATION science - g-forces.
MARTIAL ARTS - Have fun checking around this great resource: martial artsFORENSIC science and medicine - forensics.
I am Science Officer for the Vidocq Society (I'm "The Spock of Vidocq"). An international cold case think-tank, only allowing 82 full members - www.Vidocq.org. I was honored when they told me that when Vidocq has a case involving severe environment (aviation / cold, etc.) I am called in and they say, "She's the Man!" For books about us, see The Murder Room, The Girl With the Crooked Nose, and other creepy true forensics books on my BOOKS page.
Photo below - my favorite lab partner for some of my work studying long exposures to heat at elevation.
Diving and Hyperbaric Books
Diving and Hyperbaric Medicine Review For Physicians. For physicians who want a handy review and summary of all hyperbaric medicine, and to prepare for board exams in hyperbarics,.
Hyperbaric Medical Review For Board Certification Exams, CHT/CHRN. Hyperbaric chamber technicians and nurses saw the physicians book and asked for their own separate edition to prepare for certification and know their stuff.
See all my books and other fun things on my BOOKS page.
In the photo below, taken just before they sealed the hatch, I am in a hyperbaric chamber, hair tightly pulled back for being tested on intubation and I.V. skills during one of the first certification courses in Hyperbaric Chamber Operations. A long time ago with Dick Rutkowski's Hyperbarics International.
I Test On Humans
No non-human animals are hurt in my work, or used at all (except those wanting to play fetch or sit in my lab coat pockets munching seeds). I have lost grants and been turned down by medical schools of my choice for my work advancing knowledge directly applicable to humans (not testing on animals). Healthy Green Medicine.
Public EducationI am working on a public education program to educate about diving and hyperbarics. Watch this space. Qualified practitioners are invited to apply to contribute in their specialty.
can call you the "Peaceful Warrior" and defender of all that is
good in this world. Keep up the good work Paladin"
- Derek Barrett
Dr. Bookspan's Academy of Functional Exercise Medicine - The Fixa U (TM)
- Not all exercise is medicine. Not all medicine is healthy. We change that.
- World health programs for people and communities, green fitness, no-cost preventive medicine, innovations in training, certifications, Fellow advancement, more.
- Instead of membership "dues" there are "do's" - to do good. Join the fun. Come be a part of making a better you and a better Earth through my Academy of Functional Exercise Medicine.
The Fitness Fixer
My Former Column of nearly 800 Articles, plus Twitter
When Medicine and FItness Aren't Healthy, We Fix It, and Boy Do They Need it
For more than four years, it was my great joy to bring my column "The Fitness Fixer" (tm) to Healthline.com, providing close to 800 articles - not repeating what "everyone" says, but primary source research and information. My original research and innovations in improving fitness and medicine to be healthy, developed through years of study with thousands of patients and students. I developed no-cost health for people and communities to be healthier stronger happier, not through sets and reps of artificial "moves" or burning electricity for artificial gym equipment, but healthier movement and everyday actions.
When Healthline stopped running my column in 2010, the company kept some of the articles at first, but removed all the movies I had made specifically for understanding the concepts, the interesting reader questions and my answers, and almost all my photos and illustrations. They also removed "label" tags which would have allowed you to click a topic label to group all the many articles about one topic together on one page. In 2012, for some reason, they cut each of the nearly 800 articles into two-page articles, but changed many of them so the end is at the beginning, with reference end-links in the introduction making many unintelligible. Later, they started removing more and more of the original articles in favor of their own, which sell their products. Links to my articles often redirect to them. I am updating hundreds of the links I made on this site to my Fitness Fixers so that they point to the originals on Blogspot or here on my site, but it is taking time. Most of the articles are now gone.
If you are a major Health Source who would like to run or syndicate this top column, tell me about your ideas - SyndicateTheFitnessFixer @ DrBookspan.com.
INDEX of Articles. Here is a page with almost all the Fitness Fixer article topics - Fitness Fixer Index.
Some Examples: Below, I used to list many of the most popular articles. Healthline replaced them with their own which sell their products. I had hoped my articles would be an enduring free resource, but it turned out not to be. The BlogSpot archive is not as pretty, and I can't edit any broken links. I hope they are still there when you click:
PREVENTING NEED FOR SURGERY
I found an archive of my Fitness Fixers on Blogspot, that, for now, allows my Label tag to group many of my Fitness Fixers about surgery. Let me know if this still works: http://healthlinefitnessfixer.blogspot.com/search/label/surgery
Don't limit the person to limit the pain -
Here is the Blogspot archive of several aging articles together: http://healthlinefitnessfixer.blogspot.com/search/label/aging
Here is a collection of several articles helping Military Fitness - http://healthlinefitnessfixer.blogspot.com/search/label/military%20fitness
MARTIAL ARTS training and medicine - Is Bad Martial Arts Good Exercise?
Here is the Blogspot archive of several articles on improving martial arts - http://healthlinefitnessfixer.blogspot.com/search/label/martial%20artsLORDOSIS and HYPERLORDOSIS
Here is an archive on Blogspot that, for now, has several articles on the topic together on one page. Let me know if this still works:
DISC INJURY AND RECOVERY
The Blogspot collection of helpful Fitness Fixers on understanding and fixing discs - http://healthlinefitnessfixer.blogspot.com/search/label/disc.FACET Joint, SI and "Mystery" Lower Back Pain
Here is the archive on Blogspot that, for now, displays a page with several articles on this topic together, plus some of the original photos. Let me know if this still works:
SPRAINS and ANKLE HEALTH - Sprains.SITTING WITHOUT BACK PAIN and in HEALTHIER WAYS
Let me know if this archive on Blogspot still shows a collection of my Fitness Fixers on Sitting, and if you can see the photos: http://healthlinefitnessfixer.blogspot.com/search/label/sitting
FUNCTIONAL BALANCE TRAINING
Healthline removed my articles. Click my web page on Fitness as a Lifestyle to see how to build balance into daily life.
SHOES and BAREFOOT
The Hype and the Facts: http://healthlinefitnessfixer.blogspot.com/search/label/shoes
FIXING HEALTH of MIND and SPIRIT
Here is my page with short articles for mental and emotional health.
SOME OF THE FIRST MOTION CAPTURE STUDIES - Rocky Movie Computer Fight Simulation. My small contribution. Look for it on my Karate page.
PARCOURS - Dr. Bookspan's Bush-Bash
I taught Parcours/ Free running in the 1980s and later put the fun stories on my Fitness Fixer column. (sorry, the company first took off all my photos, then removed the articles). Come to my CLASSES for learning healthy movement in fun ways.
NUTRITION, probiotics, foraging, healthier sourcing, easy recipes.
Healthline took them all away. I am still working on my healthy food book. Until then, see my free Nutrition Page.
See what my patients, students, and readers did that worked, or didn't, and why - Hall of Fame 2010, Hall of Fame 2009 and Hall of Fame 2007- 2008. Here is the blogspot archive of my Reader Inspiring Stories, and my web page on this site of Patient Success Stories.
Updates, quick & fun: Twitter.com/TheFitnessFixer.
I am private and spent a career keeping personal information out of print. Finally, here are a few moments to share:
Examining Movie Star Christopher Reeve
with Doppler ultrasound to detect decompression bubbles, and other medical checks after dives to film his television show about scuba diving.
Experts in several areas of diving joined the show to explain the underwater world as he dived and explored it. I was his personal medical expert (this show was filmed before his horse riding accident). The show never aired but we did great things.
I had been in a paralyzing accident (more about that here) and my crutches, scars, and body metal bothered them. We did all possible to hide them.
Invited to Dinner by Physicist Dr. Edward Teller
at a scientific conference.
Regardless of politics, his enormous intellect and wit are undisputed. He told me the inside scoop on why the public record of his interactions with Oppenheimer was untrue.
When we first met at the conference, he first scowled at me and asked in his deep voiced Hungarian accent, "Vat do yoo know about rrradiation?" My heart sank. My chance to talk to this great physicist and he asks something out of my area. I stammered, "Nothing... Sir..."
We talked rapid-fire about medical isotopes, his family, radiation, injuries (he lost a leg in a train accident as a student) and his passion and knowledge of hyperbaric medicine. He quizzed me non-stop on all topics until he furrowed his bushy eyebrows and roared, "You LIED to me - you said you know nothing ... but you know - EVVERRRYthing."
First Dr. Teller quizzed me.
When I passed his tests, he invited me to dinner.
Equations With The Great Dr. Ed Lanphier (Edward Howell Lanphier, M.D.)
in his home in Wisconsin.
Dr. Lanphier asked me to live at their house with him and his wife (Mom Lanphier) in Wisconsin in the dead of winter to work on several studies. Dr. Lanphier was a renowned pioneer in diving physiology and medicine, initiating many top US Navy diving medicine studies. He had been very (very) ill. I was told that when he needed someone to finish his work, he sat up unexpectedly in his hospital bed and said, "Get me Bookspan."
The heavy body braces I had to wear after my paralyzing accident, were evident even under my thick sweaters. (I'm debating with myself to upload the ugly photos of lying paralyzed looking like spaghetti. I was told back then that I would never recover. Click Here for a glimpse). Often I worked lying on the floor - the bracing did not bend for chairs. It did not bother Lanphier, even when others were not hiring.
As we worked, he and his wife got better. Instead my only finishing his life's work, we were able to do new work. His knowledge was vast. No matter what topic I asked him about, he had been involved in it in some way, even the first liquid breathing studies. It led me to always say, "All roads lead to Lanphier."
Worked Over 9 Years with Dr. Chris Lambertsen (Dr. Christian J. Lambertsen)
at UPenn's Institute for Environmental Medicine (IFEM). I hand-reduced the data for his famous Predictive Studies Series. He believed direct capture of physiologic parameters superior to automating, and I tracked every data point straight from strip chart recordings, intimately learning study results for each subject.
Dr. Lambertsen developed the United States Navy's rebreathers in the 1940s for underwater warfare, including the first oxygen rebreather, the Lambertsen Amphibious Respiratory Unit (LARU), and was a pioneer in undersea medicine.
I also worked on Dr. Steve Thom's pioneering carbon monoxide studies and was on the Advisory and Review Board for the Specialized Center of Research (SCOR) grant to investigate a number of areas in oxidative stress and hyperbaric medicine, headed by Dr. Thom.
Living and Working Underwater
in Saturation Habitats.
Since I was a small child, I wanted to work underwater. I designed ocean habitats and underwater laboratories for school projects and was told there was no such thing.
In the first photo that should appear at right, I am entering the dry habitat from the ocean below through the bottom hatch. I'm wearing a long surface supply hose plus a small 'pony' tank. I wore blue jeans for diving. Easy to get work done underwater and on land without changing.
In the 2nd photo, I am also deep underwater inside the habitat lab. A reporter who came to "get a story" about the lab demanded that, since I am an underwater research scientist, I use a microscope while in the habitat underwater. No explanations convinced her that my work as a human physiologist doesn't use one. I could barely remember from school how to turn it on. She insisted that I hunch over it to look intensely involved.
My actual work was not mentioned in the news story.
I did find out about exploding toilets - surfacing the marine toilets that had been under saturation pressures. See what happened on my Diving and Aerospace page.
More of these stories explaining the wonderful science were on my former column, The Fitness Fixer. The company ended most of their blogs in2010 and took down all of my articles.Some remain in the Blogspot site in a bare-bones format, with some others intact in the WayBack Machine archives. If you are a publisher, I can offer a great column. See my Fitness Fixer page for info. Or you can come to my classes to learn in person.
To Lama Tenzin, Senior Monk and Principal of the Tibetan Medical School in the remote region of Lo Monthan.
The kind Lama allowed physical contact for his learning, teaching me techniques in exchange. More about medical massage is on my Thai Massage page.Kali-shoo!
Pioneered Fitness on Cruise Ships
They said it would "never catch on."
Back then, people didn't exercise on vacation. I developed the program and taught exercise on ships in the early 1980s with the first onboard Parcours (free running all over the ship), yoga on the swaying decks (good for balance training), scuba and snorkeling, stretching at sunrise and sunset, aerobics in best '80s leg-warmers style, dance, calisthenics, nutrition, many programs all day for all ages in several languages.
I didn't get royalties on my programs but loved being out to sea.
Few people owned cameras back then. Passengers sent me a few snaps that I am starting to scan and put here
I got sun while stretching, old fashioned, on top deck.
Worked as Able Bodied Crew on Tall Ships
I swabbed the decks, the toilets, the dirtiest of bilges.
Good hard work in the hard salt air. The photo at right was sort of a joke as they didn't let us swabbies take the helm. After the photo, I went back to polishing the brass.
I carried loads to ship when we docked in ports for provisions each 2 weeks. We slept stacked on litters 4 high. We worked 6am to midnight, 7 days a week. In between, I studied for my 100 ton licence and dreamed about jellyfish. We sailed exclusively in the Devil's Triangle.
I am the one on the left. Hard work in searing sun and salt scrubbed me golden. Fellow navigator at right.
Anatomy & Physiology Professor in Mexico
at a college to licence teachers.
I think the entrance exam was getting up the mountain to school without a nosebleed.
I had been living in Mexico teaching scuba and working with locals to start their own gym - more photos here. I mortared and hammered to build the place itself and taught how to teach classes. I worked until my Spanish was good enough to apply and be accepted as Professor at the University level, living and teaching entirely in Spanish.
Many many funny stories. Ask me about them when you come to take my classes sometime
Can you see me? First row with students (in neat uniforms). Fellow professor at left.
Martial Arts With the Fighting Horseback Muay Thai Monks and the Shaolin Monks
I am a 4th degree Black Belt in Shotokan karate.
The pioneers and Masters were my teachers, including Teruyuki OkazakiSan, who learned from the founders. We were later honored to study in Japan.
Our dojo (training hall) in Philadelphia is pictured at right. I am first on left, then Paul Sensei (Sensei means teacher in this context), who makes a fun optical illusion that we are all short. Then our students in order of rank.
I did years of painful rehab after my paralyzing accident (not martial arts related) using my own methods while all around me said I was unreasonable not to accept I would never stand or walk. I started over as a white belt, training for years until earning the black belt a second time.
Paul and I are at the Shaolin Temple (Shaolin Monastery) near Zhengzhou in China. We were glad to attend before it was popular with foreign tourists and before they had a cushy hotel there.
From there, we traveled to the Chen Village, birthplace of Tai Chi, to study from the source. It was a poor backwater with open sewers, requiring a bone crunching trip by 4 wheel drive vehicle. More photos and stories of this to come. Check back here, or with me.
I trained Muay Thai in The Netherlands and then Thailand, fighting in the ring there. A little about Muay Thai kickboxing classes I taught at Temple University is here.
Years later we traveled on our own to the far northern Thai-Burmese border to the Muay Thai Monks on Horseback. They fight drug lords with education and strength. The Monk (Abbot), the Kru Ba, is on horseback. Paul is the tall one in yellow. I am in purple second from right. We stayed with our friend Kunyai (Grandmother) Tiem Pon, pictured first on right. The famous monk is her nephew.
Story is on my web site Kickboxing Syllabus - Muay Thai Monks on Horseback.
The young monks (novices called nen in Thai) thought it was hilarious that my hair is the same color as their Abbot's horse mane. For some, it was the first time they laughed since their families were murdered in border drug wars.
Martial Arts In Japan With The Living Treasures
We lived in Japan to study Martial Arts.
I found work at a medical school and arranged for us to stay with a family we had helped when they were in the US. We did long formal paperwork to be approved to train Shotokan officially. We packed language books and our Gis (dojo uniforms), and moved. Eleven days later, the family could no longer host us, and we were instantly standing in the street in a suburb of Tokyo, needing to speak more Japanese than medical and Karate words.
Back then, foreigners were usually not rented to, except in special foreigner enclaves, but we managed to get a rare apartment in Tokyo. We passed a small dojo and made brave to go in. We thought we could attend class in the back unnoticed. It was a style we had never done - Goju-Ryu, The teacher said "You! You! - HERE!" We had to go up front and prove ourselves. The kind teacher made room for us in his class. After a summer of work, invited us to their training camp (gasshuku) at Mt Fuji. We already had other plans, but changed every ticket to make sure we arrived when and where they said. We got to live and train with Morio Higaonna Sensei, who since then is honored as an Intangible Cultural Treasure.
Worked extra to study Shiatsu there. The Namikoshi Shiatsu school, one of our training schools, has two statues; one of Tokujiro Namikoshi, the inventor of Shiatsu and founder of the school holding two thumbs up, and a second statue of a single thumb. We told the Japanese that in English, "all thumbs" means clumsy, but I don't think they believed us.
Breath Hold Diving With The Japanese Ama Divers
there not... Two points in the adventure of the diver:
Dr. Jolie Bookspan lived and dived with
the Ama of Japan
(click the dancing penguin to see who Dr. Bookspan is)
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