Friday, February 27, 2009

Neurofeedback: A Powerful Tool for Cognitive and Developmental Testing and Rehabilitation

Once in a while I run across a device or therapy other than that of nutritional protocols that I feel is important to share. Neurofeedback is one such therapy that holds promise for those with cognitive issues and for parents with children who have developmental challenges.

Sometimes referred to as EEG (Electroencephalogram) or Neurotherapy, Neurofeedback is the process of training a brain to learn to modify or control the brainwave activity through auditory and visual feedback. Neurofeedback is a gentle method of creating a balance within the central nervous system. It is painless and non-invasive in its approach.

The training process is measured by use of pictures on a computer screen and sensors on the head. The approach can be compared to potty-training. An individual is taking an internal organ and training it to respond by feedback. If a patient is producing an amplitude (strength of a signal) in a specific frequency level that is within the parameters that the technician has set, then music will begin and the picture will move. If the individual is outside those parameters then the music and the movement stops.

The process starts with a compilation of the participants emotional, behavioral and cognitive abilities, concerns and personal goals. After a thorough meeting involving some standardized tests and reviewing their social history a profile is created. The profile is used to develop academic and cognitive strategies for school, home and work. This profile is a starting point for memory, problem solving, reasoning and speed processing enhancement.

Most individuals will be asked to come as often as possible in the beginning of their therapy. It is not uncommon to come 5 days a week in the beginning. The first twenty sessions are the most important. The central nervous system is learning a new neuronal pattern and just like exercising any muscle the more it is practiced the more habitual that movement becomes. The total number of sessions vary and are dependant on the individual, their progress and their personal goals. A common number of therapy sessions range from 25-40.

Computer games, board games and card games are many times used during the session as a method of teaching a new cognitive strategy. Relaxation techniques such as autogenics, visualization, Hemi-Sync music and diaphragmatic breathing are taught to the individual as well.

Many times "home work" is given to the family so they can continue to practice at home, school or at the workplace.

EEG neurofeedback helps many different disorders and conditions. It seems to be effective for several reasons: It helps to remind the body how to relax the muscles, which allow the nerves to "let-go" and not respond until needed. It also allows the blood to flow through the body at a normal rate and volume keeping blood pressure lower during daily activity. Most disorders or conditions are affected by stress. Therefore, as the body reacts to the stress in a different manner the characteristics of these diagnosis' will decrease.

Conditions that can be treated by neurofeedback are:

· Anxiety Attacks
· Apraxia
· Aphasia
· Autism
· Bi-polar Disorder
· Depression
· Dyslexia
· Hypertension
· Learning Disabilities (LD)
· Migraines
· Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD)
· Pain Management
· Stroke
· Tourette Syndrome (TS)
· Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

Benefits to Expect:

Improved Sleep:

· Falls asleep within 20 minutes
· Stays asleep
· Wakes Refreshed


· Improved memory skills
· Increased flexibility in thinking
· Heightened sense of documentation and focus
· Increase in the speed of processing information
· Better reasoning skills
· Able to think faster
· Better strategizing and deduction skill


· Better sense of self control
· Better social skills
· Less anxiety
· Less needless body movement
· Less impulse behavior
· Less obsessive/compulsive behavior
· Reduction of addictive behavior


· More involved with family events and discussions
· More willing to share ideas and thoughts
· Happier and more content
· More composed physically/mentally
· Better self confidence
· Reduction of stress related behaviors such as headaches, nail biting, twisting hair, hair pulling, motor or vocal tics

I was introduced to neurofeedback through my friend and client, Dr. Lise DeLong, PhD, who is the founder and director of Cognitive Connections on the southside of Indianapolis. Dr. DeLong also offers a variety of nutritional protocols related to cognitive function and stress, as well as hyperbaric oxygen therapy, which helps to oxygenate the brain and body and can be useful for a variety of conditions. Her website offers some compelling case studies on Neurofeedback.