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When you learn that your child is having a problem in school, you are confronted with a confusing but limited set of options. Special Education classes, tutors and medication are available. But often the problems persist, or only marginally improve. Of course, there can be side effects to medication, along with the social stigma of waiting in line to see the school nurse. And many children become embarrassed attending classes separate from their friends.
Neurofeedback Therapy is a powerful method for training poorly regulated brainwave activity. While looking at game-like displays on a computer monitor, your child learns to control the activity of the brain for effective learning. For them, it is like playing a video game with their mind. For you, it can mean a dramatic improvement in your child’s academic performance and behavior.
What is Neurofeedback?
Neurofeedback is a cutting edge technology that utilizes computers to train children, adolescents and adults how to regulate their brain wave activity. As they learn to do this, many challenging behaviors come under control.
What is Neurofeedback used for?
The purpose of Neurofeedback is to improve self-regulation. It can be especially helpful when the individual has trouble focusing, completing schoolwork or office work or struggles to keep themselves organized and on track. Neurofeedback is also often used to help children and adolescents with social skills deficits, autism spectrum challenges (including Asperger’s Syndrome) anxiety and depression. Finally, individuals who have suffered traumatic brain injury or other neurological injury have been successfully treated using Neurofeedback.
How does Neurofeedback work?
Sensors designed to read the electrical activity the brain produces (EEG) are attached to the scalp. These readings are then “fed back” to the person undergoing the training in the form of video games. When the sensors detect that the electrical patterns underneath it are not well-regulated, the video game will not progress. But as soon as sensors detect that the individual is beginning to produce a well-regulated electrical pattern, the video games proceed. In a sense, the individual learns to play the video games with their brain: the quicker the brain learns to produce well-regulated brain wave activity, the better their performance.
Will Neurofeedback last forever?
Neurofeedback teaches the brain to become more efficient. Once learned, it doesn’t get unlearned. It’s a little like learning to ride a bicycle; once you’ve learned how, you never have to re-learn it. On rare occasions after the training, if an individual suffers a concussion they may have to come in for a few sessions of “tune up”.
What is the success rate for Neurofeedback?
At our clinic, Neurofeedback is successful 85-90% of the time, which is quite remarkable given that many of our patients end up here after several failed attempts to get help. We’ve even considered changing our name to “The Clinic of Last Resort”, so the fact that we can have such success with challenging patients is a testimony to the power of this intervention when done correctly.
To what do you attribute such success?
To begin we use an individual brain map, called a qEEG . Using the qEEG we “map out” the electrical activity a patient’s brain produces and compare that electrical activity to a data base of same age peers’. We are then able to determine exactly where to train the patient’s brain during the Neurofeedback making our treatment plan specifically tailored to the needs of each individual client.
In addition to the Neurofeedback therapy, we have the expertise to intervene on multiple levels—the patient, the home and the school/work environment, using a holistic approach to achieving success for each individual and their personal goals.
Does Neurofeedback work for everyone?
No, not everyone. Although rare, there are some children, who can be so oppositional that they will refuse to do something just because their parents want them to. However, even when a child balks, they usually want the help but are afraid to admit it. But when they learn that they will not have to talk about their problems and that all they have to do is to play video games with their brains, it is often enough to overcome their initial resistance.
There are also some children who can be so hyperactive that they can’t sit still even for a few seconds. In such cases we may actually recommend a medication consultation in order to engage that child and as improvement occurs, work with the physician to reduce the dose.
Finally, we do not work with children under the age of 6. We have found that by waiting a year or so, we get better results.
Will Neurofeedback eliminate the need for medication?
Medication should only be adjusted under the supervision of a physician. We have found most physicians willing to work with us to reduce and often eliminate the medications as the patient demonstrates improvement.
What happens if Neurofeedback patients are already taking medications?
Neurofeedback often improves self-regulation to the point where medications may be lessened or no longer be necessary. However, it is essential that medication reduction/elimination be done only under medical supervision. We are always happy to assist the physician in making that assessment.
Does electrical activity go into the brain during Neurofeedback?
Absolutely not! This is a common misconception. During the process, the patient’s electrical activity is only read and “fed back” to them visually in the form of video displays. They are simply reinforced visually and auditorily when they produce improved electrical patterns.