The prestigious American Academy of Pediatrics recently reviewed scientific evidence about non-medical treatments for ADHD. They placed neurofeedback in the top tier as having “Best Support” in scientific research for treatment of ADHD without medication.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) effects as many as 11 percent of American children. ADHD is a complex disorder that can affect many aspects of a child’s daily life and behavior, which is especially why early treatment is so important.
What does ADHD do to the brain?
For a child without ADHD, the act of concentrating on a task helps speed the brain’s activity, rendering it more efficient. The contrary is true for a child with ADHD. Concentration makes a child with ADHD more distracted and therefore less efficient. That’s why simply trying to help a child pay attention isn’t the most effective solution. The idea behind neurofeedback is to help children with ADHD learn how to make their brain be attentive when it needs to be.
Neurofeedback training can often lead to the reduction or elimination of drugs.
How Neurofeedback helps with ADHD
Individuals with ADHD have problems with attention, focus, concentration, hyperactivity for some, executive functions like planning ahead and often the ability to socialize appropriately. Neurofeedback can produce significant and lasting improvement in these symptoms in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Through Neurofeedback training the electrical activity changes in the optimal direction and so does the brain chemistry. And this is why individuals begin to need less medication and are eventually able to decrease medication and stop medication completely.
What is Neurofeedback training?
Neurofeedback Training is a simple, painless, drugless and non-invasive therapy. It trains the EEG or brainwaves using operant conditioning. Operant conditioning uses auditory and visual feedback to reward the brainwaves when they change in the desired direction to improve attention and focus and other problems of ADHD. An individual learns to control his own brainwaves through the help of visual and auditory feedback.
Neurofeedback training is simple, painless, drugless, non-invasive and
virtually has no harmful side effects.
How does Neurfoeedback work?
Neurofeedback is a way to quantify and train brain activity.
The basic principles of how neurofeedback works are deceptively simple.
Communication between groups of cells in the brain generates thoughts, sensations, actions and emotions. This activity is detectable in the form of brainwaves – electrical impulses generated by your brain activity.
During a neurofeedback session, sensors detect your brainwaves to see your brain in action. A computer compares your brain activity to targets or goals for you to reach. Through operant conditioning, sounds and images tell you immediately when your brain reaches your goal and when not – when you are activating or suppressing the target area of the brain.
Through this simple method, you learn how to quiet brainwaves associated with low performance and increase brainwaves associated with optimal brain function. Much like physical exercises strengthen and develop specific muscles, the more your brain is exercised into reaching a new more comfortable, more efficient position, the better and stronger it gets.
How do we decide what needs to change?
A thorough assessment is done to determine what the difficulties a person is experiencing along with the history of the problem, family history, and an assessment of brain functioning. A quantitative EEG (QEEG) is performed to collect data under different conditions, eyes closed, eyes open, reading and doing a performance task. We look at the results of the way the brainwaves are working, and we run the results against a normed data base that is the same as the person’s age, gender and handedness. We determine a direction for treatment based on the symptoms of the individual and the quantitative electroencephalogram (QEEG).
How long does it take?
The length of neurofeedback training sessions always depends on the condition, age and health of the patient as well as any other health conditions that are present and need supportive treatment. We find that an average number of sessions to get a significant change to occur are around 20-30 sessions. However, rarely does a case resolve completely in that few sessions. It usually takes around 40 to get the best results. Individuals that have other health concerns need to recognize that Neurofeedback alone cannot do everything and there needs to be a comprehensive understanding and treatment of the overall health problems.