How successful are Neurofeedback treatments, and how long do they last?

Here’s a text I just received today: “I wanted to let you know ‘CM’ is doing great! He is a junior (in high school) now. He has a job. He got straight A’s in his regular classes and 2 online classes. He should be done with HS, and ready to do all dual enrollment next year. Thanks for your help getting him there.”

This student started Neurofeedback in January of 2015 and has done 51 sessions to date, including some sessions with the Interactive Metronome.  He presented in 2015 with a diagnoses of ADHD, with a very hard time focusing in school, impulsiveness, mood swings, and a hard time controlling emotions.  CM also had failing grades in most of his 7th grade subjects.  We started doing Neurofeedback twice a week for the first 20 sessions, then went to once a week, and now I only see him about once a month.  He is also off all of his meds!  Another success story!

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New Study Finds That EEG NF Makes Changes in the Brain

A newly published study (“Effect of Infra-Low Frequency Neurofeedback on InfraSlow
EEG Fluctuations” by Vera A. Grin-Yatsenko, Valery A. Ponomarev,
Olga Kara, Bernhard Wandernoth, Mark Gregory, Valentina A. Ilyukhina and Juri D. Kropotov) has given more evidence to what Neurotherapists have known for years: ILF Neurofeedback makes long-lasting changes in brain activity.  “The ILF training
leads to the changes of the functional state of the brain. We suggest that the modification
of the baseline ILF EEG pattern may reflect the normalization in the metabolic balance in the brain tissue and increasing efficiency of compensatory mechanisms in the stress regulation systems”, the researchers concluded.  This article also does a good job at tracing the history of ILF EEG Neurofeedback, and some of its uses.   The article states: “The method [ILF Neurofeedback] came to be applied broadly to mental health concerns, with a range of application that was even larger than that of EEG-based training. The method has demonstrated dramatically positive outcomes for a variety of mental conditions, including different forms of anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances, ADHD, the autism spectrum, developmental trauma, migraines and other headaches, and traumatic brain injury”.  To view the entire study click here.

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5 Simple Things Parents Should do with their Infant to Encourage Brain Development

The Infant Brain is a learning machine!  It is exploring its new environment, learning how to manipulate and control their movements, and learning what all these new things mean.  Parents are instrumental in helping the infant brain to develop.  After all, the parent is the child’s first teacher.

Dr. Ron Ferguson of Harvard has gone through the research and has come up with 5 simple things parents should do to help their infant’s brain develop properly, which he calls The Boston Basics.  Here they are:

1  Maximize love, manage stress.  From early on in fetal development, babies are very in-tuned to stress levels of their parents.  It is well known that stressed-out pregnant moms produce hard to sooth, stressed little babies.  The infant brain learns best in a safe, stress-free environment.

2.  Talk, sing and point. “When you point at something, that helps the baby to start to associate words with objects,” Ferguson explains. Some babies will point before they can even talk.

3. Count, group and compare.  Yes, the infant brain begins to develop number skills early in its development.  Babies love numbers and counting, and there’s research to show they’re actually born with math ability. Ferguson says caregivers can introduce their children to math vocabulary by using sentences that compare things: “Oh, look! Grandpa is tall, but grandma is short” or “There are two oranges, and three apples.”

4. Explore through movement and play. Young brains (infant through early childhood) learn best through exploring their environments.  This helps establish proper connections between neurons and timing of neuronic signals.

5.  Read and discuss stories. It’s never too early to start reading aloud — even with babies. Hearing words increases vocabulary, and relating objects to sounds starts to create connections in the brain. The Basics also put a big emphasis on discussing stories: If there’s a cat in the story and a cat in your home, point that out. That’s a piece lots of parents miss when just reading aloud.

You can get the full article from NPR by clicking here.

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Tips for Getting Your Child to Bed

School is starting soon, and parents will be in the yearly struggle of getting students to bed earlier.  This is a little more difficult with ADHD children.  Here are some tips from Terry Matlen of ADDConsults:

There are many studies that show the difficulties children with ADHD – and their parents- face at bedtime. Typically, the child’s ADHD medication has worn off, causing his symptoms to reappear, often with a vengeance [these swings don’t happen with children doing Neurofeedback :-)]. As he becomes more hyperactive and impulsive, his body needs just the opposite: rest

What is a parent to do?

** 10 Tips for Getting Your Child to Bed **

  1. Insist that all electronics and other stimulating toys and activities stop one hour before bedtime.
  2. Have a schedule and stick to it with rare exceptions. Post the schedule (in more than one place). For younger children, use diagrams or pictures from magazines.

Clearly state each step of the bedtime routine:

  • What time the child must stop playing
  • Any chores needed to be done (i.e. putting toys away)
  • Snack time, if needed
  • Wash up, brush teeth, shower
  • Change into pajamas
  • Lights out
  1.  Warm milk, warm baths– they really do work.
  2. Even older children love one on one time with parents, whether it’s reading a book together, or sharing the day’s activities. Even many teenagers find this time together calming and special.
  3. Reward your child for every positive move in the right direction. For younger children,  keep a jar and add coins to it every time he follows the bedtime schedule.
  4. Remember that children with ADHD get bored with routines quickly and though you want to try and make them the same each night, you’ll need to be creative in making that  happen. Once, I was so desperate to get my child to bed, I turned it into a Scavenger Hunt. I wrote each bedtime step on an index card and hid them. Each contained a clue where to find the next card, plus instructions on what needed to be done to get ready for bed. Another parent wrote all the bedtime routines on her child’s bathroom mirror using whiteboard markers. Think of other creative, novel ways to keep your child on track.
  5.  Get help! There was a time when things were so difficult in my home, that I hired a sitter a few nights a week to help me. It truly saved my sanity. Insist that your spouse/partner also help. Consider trading off bedtime and morning responsibilities with your partner so neither of you becomes burned out.
  6. Sometimes the child seeks out stimulation by engaging parents in bedtime wars. Change YOUR habits- try different tactics that remove you from the scene as much as possible. You might be surprised that your child actually gets sleepy when the conflict with you disappears.
  7. Try sensory products . When my daughter was very young, I purchased a special tent that sat on top of her bed. She loved to curl up with her stuffed animals. The security of the tent encompassing her had a calming effect. You can also purchase a weighted blanket- these, too often have a calming effect on children with ADHD. Or…pile a lot of regular blankets on her.
  8. De-clutter your child’s room so that he isn’t stimulated visually by all the “stuff” in there or tempted to start playing with toys in the middle of the night.

Many children with ADHD simply cannot unwind at the end of the day. When their daytime meds wear off, their behaviors often become unmanageable and sleep impossible. Discuss with your child’s doctor whether a bedtime medication might be needed to help ease him into sleep. [Or do Neurofeedback!  I had one young client do Neurofeedback early one evening.  Parents reported that he fell asleep in the car, which had never happened before!  He slept through the night! As the number of sessions increased, the better his sleep became.]

Remember: you can’t force your child to sleep and you should never suggest that. But you can insist he stay IN bed and rest. Then let nature take its course.

 

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The Efficacy of Antidepressants

A newly published study found that people taking antidepressants felt worse in the long term, than people who did not take any medication for their depression.  This study followed 15,000 people over a 9 year period.  It seems that antidepressants make the condition worse in the long term.  This study, coupled with an earlier study that showed antidepressants, especially SSRI’s, actually do the opposite of what they were thought to do at the cellular level, shows the ineffectiveness of medication in treating depression.  More natural therapies such as exercise, diet modification, psychotherapy, and neurotherapy are more effective, especially in the long term.  Both studies suggest that the use of medication for chronic depression may be effective only in the short term.  The studies can be found here and here.

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The Problem with SSRI’s in Treating Depression

SSRI’s, (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), such as Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft,  have been around for more than 50 years and have been readily prescribed to treat mild to moderate depression, even though their effectiveness is questionable.  The idea behind SSRI’s is that depression is ’caused’ by a lack of serotonin in the synapses between brain cells.  It was thought that SSRI’s would increase the amount of serotonin by  inhibiting the process of cellular re-absorbtion.  However, recent research has shown that the brains of people with depression do not have less serotonin than neuro-typical brains, but more!  So, in effect, those people taking SSRI’s are making things worse, which could help explain why those taking SSRI’s for the first time feel more depressed the first two weeks after starting SSRI’s.  Click here to read more of the research.  Is there an alternative to depression meds?  Absolutely!  How about teaching the brain to function better?  We do this with Neurofeedback.

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Are All Mental Illnesses Related?

According to former FDA commissioner, Dr. David Kessler, all mental illnesses are related.  Revealed in his new book, Capture: A Theory of the Mind, Dr. Kessler explains that mental illnesses are misguided neuro-networks that keep firing in a maladaptive pattern in response to certain stimuli.  This reactive pattern is often times caused by trauma, usually experienced in early childhood.  He calls this ‘capture’.  Medications only dampen the feeling produced.  What must be done, according to Dr. Kessler, is that the maladaptive pattern needs to be replaced by a more positive pattern.  How does one do this?  Enter Neurofeedback, which helps rewire the brain, and psychotherapy, and Yoga and proper meditation.  Even more effective is a combination of those!  Hear more about ‘capture’ from Dr Kessler:

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The Problem with Multiple Concussions – Diagnosing CTE

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Boston University School of Medicine is heading up 50 medical researchers in a massive 7 year study into the brain disease CTE, or Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, the brain dysfuction made famous in the movie Concussion.  Typically, CTE can only be diagnosed in brains after death, and is typically caused by a series of head injuries, with or without concussion symptoms.  CTE is most evident in football players and other athletes.  There are several questions that this research endeavor will explore.  One of them is why do some NFL players experience CTE and others not?  How much an effect does genetics play in CTE (there are former NFL players who have had multiple head injuries and did not have CTE).  Does the age at which a person experiences head trauma have an effect on CTE later in life?  And the biggest question is how can we diagnose CTE before death.

The research team is recruiting 180 former NFL and college football players to study their brains.  Lead researcher Robert Stern, Ph.D. is aided by former NFL player Tim Fox, who is 62 years old and believes he has some symptoms of CTE.  You can hear more about this study in an NPR All Things Considered interview here.

This study may help decision makers in age group to high school to college football.

If you suffer a concussion, or any kind of head injury with symptoms, look into Neurofeedback as a way of relieving those symptoms.

 

Neurofeedback is non-obtrusive and fun!

Neurofeedback is non-obtrusive and fun!

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Five Drug-Free Treatments for ADHD

Medication is not the only treatment for ADHD!

Dr Daniel Amen recommends 5 Drug Free Treatments for ADHD

They are:

  • Neurofeedback – Brain training using EEG Neurofeedback – effective, but takes several sessions, no side effects
  • Nutrition – High protein, low carbs is a good start.  Sometimes children react negatively to certain processed foods, such as those with artificial coloring, gluten, or dairy
  • “Then What?” – question to ask yourself if you do a behavior
  • Exercise – A healthy brain loves oxygen and aerobic exercise helps get more oxygen to your brain cells, also helps the body to regulate chemicals in the body
  • Meditation – calms the body and the brain

Read Dr. Amen’s article here

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Study Shows Link Between Maternal Stress and Childhood ADHD

A study published in The Journal of the Canadian Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry suggests that there is  a relationship between maternal stress during pregnancy and childhood ADHD.  Which kind of makes sense.  There is an increasing amount of stress for expecting mothers during these times:  money worries, Zika virus, presidential elections, ect, and an alarming increasing rate of childhood ADHD!  How can an expectant mother deal with all this stess?  First, turn off the TV!  Second do Neurofeedback and learn meditation!  I wonder what a generation of children whose mothers did Neurofeedback and meditation during pregnancy would look like?  Hmmm…read the published study here.

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