What is Epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a neurological condition defined by recurring unprovoked seizures. Epilepsy is one of the most common disorders of the nervous system and affects people of all ages, races and ethnic backgrounds. In many cases, there may be no detectable cause for epilepsy.
About 1 in 26 people in the United States will develop a seizure disorder. Nearly 10 percent of individuals may have a single unprovoked seizure. At least two unprovoked seizures are generally required for an epilepsy diagnosis.
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 relieve seizures. 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 Neurofeedback helps with Epilepsy?
With Neurofeedback, specific symptoms of Epilepsy can be targeted. Since abnormal brain activity, also know as instabilities, are seen as the main cause of Epilepsy, the most important goal during Neurofeedback training is stabilizing the brain. In other words, ‘to train the brain to control it’s abnormal activity. Neurofeedback is an option applicable to all types of seizures.
At the NeuroFeedback Center, we measure brain function with a Quantitative EEG also called a brainmap so that we can see the areas of the brain that have been negatively effected by Epilepsy.
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, medical history, 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).
What is a Brainmap?
A Brainmap is a Quantitative Electroencephalogram. It is an EEG that has been compared to a database of normals of all ages. We compare your EEG with your date of birth, handedness, and gender and we get back a great deal of data and colored maps that describe where your brain is functioning well and where it is not functioning well. The results of a Brainmap (Qeeg) enables us to determine any specific regions of your brain which are not functioning at their best and to use this information to setup your direction for Neurofeedback training.
Case Study: 30 year old woman with Epilepsy
The image below is from the qEEG analysis of a 30 year old patient who had her her first seizure the day after a fall striking the back of her head while skiing. She and her parents were able to identify 18 concussions by the time she was evaluated by Dr. Bell for Neurotherapy. Most of her concussions occurred from falling during seizures. Even though she had been evaluated by one of the best Neurologist in the U.S. for Epilepsy and was put on medication to control the seizures, she continued to have seizures.
She reported problems with math, reading, hyperactivity and impulsivity during her childhood. Other problems reported as a symptom of concussions and seizures were concentration, disorganization, memory loss, confusion, anxiety, panic and because life had become so difficult for her suicidal thought upon evaluation.
The brainmaps reflect problems in the brain from the various shades of blue to the shades of yellow, orange to red being most extreme. Green in the brainmap is normal. In the heads where there are lines of various thickness it is a reflection of the neuropathways of the brain having functional problems. The more lines and the thicker the line the more difficultly.
The first brainmap is before Neurofeedback. The red areas of her brainmap reflect her disorganization and inability to be present and to read or communicate and finish sentences and the source of seizures. The blue areas in the Delta frequency reflect her inability to sleep and to be calm and less anxious. Her alpha in blue is reflecting inability to be calm, less anxious and to self sooth. And the high beta red areas are likely some of the many concussions she has experienced, causing memory problems, reading and language problems and anxiety. All of the lines in Asymmetry, Coherence, and Phase are a reflection of neuropathways in the brain that are disorganized and inefficiently functioning.
The second brainmap is after 20 sessions of Loreta Z-score Neurofeedback training. The patient is now less anxious, more organized and able to read and communicate easier by completing her sentences and finding her words. As the brainmap moves more into the green her functioning abilities are increased. She is less anxious and her mind is more organized. Most of the red areas have lowered indicating less anxiety and better functioning. And the connectivity in her brain has improved as one can see fewer lines indicating reduced problems of inefficiency in the brain neuropathways.
After 25 sessions of Neurofeedback her Neurologist did an in hospital EEG under stress to the patient and found no seizure EEG and reduced her medication in half.
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.