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News & Current Issues

In 2013, Chris Gardner had to undergo brain surgery to remove a tumour.

The operation impaired his mobility and cognition. Despite nearly nine months of therapy, he was making little progress. This is when he decided to try neurofeedback in the hopes Neurofeedback would alleviate his condition. Gardner’s doctor projected a recovery period of two to three years based on his progress following the brain surgery. Gardner decided to undergo neurofeedback therapy.

“I was skeptical. But I was desperate. I felt like I was wrapped in miles of cotton and could not reach through it to touch or feel anything.”

Neurofeedback therapy is a type of biofeedback that teaches the brain to function more efficiently. EEG electrodes monitor the electrical output of the brain. The feedback is shown to the patient on a monitor.

As the patient watches a video, the therapist monitors the data and programs key elements to respond to certain activity. Self-regulation is one of the main aspects of the therapy.

But just how effective is Neurofeedback?

A study published in the Journal of Pediatrics involved 104 children that were randomly selected to receive neurofeedback, no interaction, or cognitive training. Those who received neurofeedback demonstrated improvements in attention and impulse control for longer than six months.

By Gardener’s ninth Neurofeedback session, he was already driving and working from home.

Gardner received tiny pulsed signals to his brain. Research suggests the signals “revive” communication channels which may become impaired due to injury. During sessions, his brain was essentially rewiring itself.

Results for neurofeedback therapy vary for each patient.

“I am not 100 percent. I probably won’t stand on my head or get on a roller coaster. But I can do almost everything I couldn’t do before,” said Gardner.

Neurofeedback has numerous implications for many types of conditions

Research suggests that neurofeedback is effective management for ADHD. Sessions are brief and typically last from 30 to 60 minutes for a total of up to 20 sessions or more. One of the most promising aspects is that benefits remain even after sessions have ended.

Mary Lee Etsy, Ph.D., the founding owner of BRAINSAKE has conducted studies of using neurofeedback to help veterans with PTSD. Based on a small size of seven veterans who underwent therapy, the results were promising.

“These people initially had minimal function. They could not work, and many attempted suicide,” Etsy said. “One is getting a Ph.D now. One has a full scholarship when he could not read after his head injury. All of them are doing well.”

Etsy continues to collaborate with the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences to evaluate the effectiveness of neurofeedback on patients suffering from PTSD.

Based on early studies, neurofeedback has already proven to be effective management with lasting benefits for a range of conditions.

Chris Gardner is one of many patients who have already benefited from such sessions.

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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is characterised by inattention and impulsive behaviour. The condition is the most commonly diagnosed disorders of children, affecting 10 per cent of school aged children with boys being diagnosed at a much higher rate than girls. ADHD is not limited to early ages as it can continue into adulthood.

Distinguishing between ADHD and normal behaviour makes diagnosis difficult.

It is normal for children to daydream during class or occasionally forget their homework, however inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity are also early signs of ADHD. Early intervention is important as the condition has a strong impact on learning and social interaction.

Traditional treatment involves behavioural therapy and prescriptions of stimulants such as Dexamphetamine or Ritalin to decrease hyperactivity and increase attention span. However, stimulants come with a host of side effects that make them less than an ideal option for some children.

Neurofeedback is one of the most promising interventions for children diagnosed with ADHD.

What is Neurofeedback?

Neurofeedback is a safe, drug-free and non-invasive technique of training the brain to function more efficiently.

Client brainwave activity is recorded and the information is relayed to a monitor where clients learn to control their brain by suppressing or activating certain areas.

The process uses a reward-based system. Clients are given instant positive feedback when their brain frequencies are within the set parameters. Neurofeedback is essentially a type of self-regulation training that improves brain functions.

How effective is Neurofeedback?

Research is still ongoing but early results are promising as a viable option for ADHD. Neurofeedback is rated as a ‘best practice’ intervention for ADHD by the American Society of Pediatrics.

How Neurofeedback Helps

The idea behind neurofeedback is to help children improve their attention span. This is especially important for activities that require sustained attention such as in school environments.

Neurofeedback sessions are typically provided by mental health professionals such as psychologists.

Clients are able to monitor their own brain wave patterns and are instructed to focus on certain tasks by using the feedback as guides. This enables them to train their own brain. People can then utilise these same strategies when they are no longer attached to the sensors to improve their focus.

In some studies, children who underwent neurofeedback demonstrated improved control and attention. A more recent study sheds new light on neurofeedback.

Andhra University Research

Researchers at the Andhra University in India conducted research on the brain waves of children diagnosed with ADHD. For the study, 20 children between the ages of seven and 13 years were selected to receive neurofeedback training and behavioural therapies.

Out of the group of children, 15 had ADHD and the other five had ADD. Participants in the study underwent 40 sessions of neurofeedback.

The results are yet to be published, but the following observation was made:

“The study found that when ADHD kids are treated with neuro-biofeedback, other system begins to improve as the brain wave is regulated. Attention, oppositional behaviour, sleep pattern, irritability, depression anxiety, anti-social behaviour, retention and memory improve. The child becomes less impulsive, less fidgety and fussy with increased mood stability. The improvement in neuro-physiological measures is permanent unlike in the case of the use of stimulant medication. The IQ score increased by at least 10 points.”

Neurofeedback as a management strategy for ADHD has proven to be highly effective.

But perhaps most surprising are the implications in other areas. For example, people suffering from depression or anxiety may also benefit from neurofeedback sessions, the results so far are promising.

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HeartMath emWave device for Stress Relief

February 18, 2015

One of the most common health problems in modern society is stress. Our daily routines are rushed with deadlines to meet and challenging situations that need our attention. When everything is so stressful, it takes a toll on your body and mind. Stress is normal and at a minimum level, can be a good thing. […]

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Computer Science Allows Better Understanding of Brain’s Function

August 28, 2014

A neuron or a nerve cell is an electrically excitable cell that processes and transmits information through electrical and chemical signals. Neurons are the core components of the nervous system, which includes the brain, spinal cord and the ganglia of the peripheral nervous system (PNS) which comprises the central nervous system (CNS). A study conducted […]

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Forgetfulness and its Link to Genetics

August 13, 2014

Have you ever been on your mobile phone and almost had a panic attack when you couldn’t “find” it? How about putting your sunglasses on the top of your head and then frantically searching for them in your handbag? Or forgetting that your car keys were actually in the freezer? It happens. These incidents might […]

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Helping Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder Sleep Better

June 16, 2014

Sleep plays a critical role in our health. Not getting enough sleep can impair cognition and make it difficult to concentrate. Research has also shown that individuals with chronic sleep loss are at higher risk of long-term health consequences including heart disease and diabetes. This presents numerous challenges for children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder […]

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Results From Neurofeedback Training For ADHD | Learning Discoveries

June 5, 2014

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common disorder characterised by difficulty paying attention or concentrating on tasks. It is estimated that 9.5% of children are diagnosed with ADHD which has an impact on academic performance and social relationships. Stimulant medications such as Ritalin or Adderall are effective but also carry side effects. One remedy […]

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The Benefits of Essential Fatty Acids on Mental Health

May 30, 2014

Mental health refers to emotional and psychological well-being. Issues from stress to depression and anxiety have a direct impact on emotion and even behaviour. The exact extent depends on the condition along with the factors contributing to it. Research shows that essential fatty acids (EFAs) are beneficial for mental health. Individuals with an insufficient intake […]

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Studies Reveal Coeliac Disease Remains Largely Undiagnosed

May 24, 2014

Celiac disease is a common digestive condition where ingestion of gluten leads to an adverse reaction and damage in the small intestine. Ingesting foods containing gluten such as bread can trigger a range of symptoms include: Diarrhoea Abdominal pain Weight loss Flatulence Bloating Fatigue Chronic constipation Decreased appetite Irritability Itchiness Headaches Iron deficiency Symptoms vary […]

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Neurofeedback Therapy For ADHD Officially Recognised by the APP

May 12, 2014

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is typically characterised by inability to maintain concentration for extended periods of time, making it difficult to manage tasks. The condition commonly affects children but can also continue into adulthood for some. Stimulants are often prescribed to treat symptoms although they may not necessarily be the best choice. Individuals diagnosed […]

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Rosemary Boon

Registered Psychologist

M.A. (Psych),
Grad. Dip. Ed. Studies (Sch. Counsel),
Grad Dip. Ed. B Sc, Dip. Nut.

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