Neurofeedback can help alleviate the symptoms of the following conditions:
- Sleep Deprivation
- Attention Deficit and Attention issues
- Foggy Brain
- Emotional Control
- Obsessive Compulsive Tendencies
- Chronic Pain
- Performance Improvement
- Traumatic Brain Injuries
- Attention Deficit Disorder inattentive type
- Attention Deficit Disorder hyperactive type
- Attention Deficit Disorder combined type
- Learning Disabilities
- Developmental Delays
- Executive Dysfunction
- Sleep disturbances
- Obsessive Compulsive Tendencies
- Non-Verbal Learning Disabilities
- Performance Enhancement (i.e. SAT Prep)
As Occupational Therapists, the foundation of our profession is built on improving an individual’s ability to successfully engage in life skills. When any of the symptoms of these conditions are interfering in a person’s ability to be successful with life’s ambitions, Neurofeedback is a modality that can be used to help remediate the symptoms and improve quality of life.
Definition of Neurofeedback:
Neurofeedback is a therapy tool that places EEG sensors on different locations on the head in order to train brainwave patterns. Specialized computer software is programmed to encourage the brainwaves to move in a specific direction through the use of operant conditioning (encouraging behavior through positive reinforcement). The sensors used in therapy are constantly measuring brainwave patterns. The computer software responds to the measurements from the sensors with feedback that correlates to the direction the software wants to lead the brainwave patterns. The feedback is in the form of fun, motivating experiences such as computer games controlled by the mind, or puzzles that fill in as the brainwaves learn to balance. At times, motivating movies are played and will become larger and smaller to encourage the desired brainwave pattern response. The response to the feedback is on a subconscious level, meaning the brain is intuitively learning to change its patterning. It does not require a strong conscious effort on the part of the participant. It is a gentle process that encourages change.
Methods of Assessment
QEEG (quantitative Electroencephalography) is a digitized tool that is used to map the brain. The brain map is uploaded to a clinical database, which produces a thorough report identifying the individual’s brainwave patterns. The results are analyzed to determine the presence of brainwave imbalances that correlate to what is troubling the individual seeking the therapy. Once the insufficient brainwave patterns are identified, a plan is developed to use the Neurofeedback equipment to help balance the brainwave patterns in order to remediate the symptoms of the individual’s struggles. This information is also correlated with other methods of assessment in order to create a comprehensive plan of care.
What to expect when undergoing a QEEG
During the administration of a QEEG, a cap is placed on the individual’s head. It resembles a swim cap except that it has 19 wire leads that evolve out of the cap and connect to the computer system. Once the cap is placed on the head, a small amount of gel is inserted into each of the 19 sites. As long as the connection is sufficient, the individual then maintains a quiet state for two minutes of recording with eyes open and two minutes of recording with eyes closed. The entire process lasts no more than 20 minutes from the moment the individual sits in the chair until the moment the cap is removed.
The Swingle Mini-Q
The Swingle Mini-Q is a five point EEG assessment used to assess five different areas of the brain commonly associated with symptoms of depression, anxiety, attention difficulties, autistic behaviors, stress, cognitive deficits, and much more. The occipital lobe (O1), Central Sulcus (Cz) (the point in the brain at which the frontal lobe and parietal lobe meet), Frontal Lobe (Fz) and Frontal Lobe right side (F4) and left side (F3) are all analyzed according to the amount of power within the brainwave frequencies at each location (i.e. delta, theta, alpha, beta, high beta). The collected data is compared according to a clinical database, which provides normal ranges, and clinically remarkable ranges that correlate to the different behaviors associated with various conditions and function. The outcomes of this assessment need to be correlated to client symptoms and behaviors in order to be deemed clinically significant.
How long does Neurofeedback therapy last?
Neurofeedback is an effective therapy tool that is thoroughly researched and supports the therapeutic concept of Neuroplasticity: the ability to change the brain’s neural connections in order to promote improved function. Therefore, in order to make these changes, the brain patterns that are being developed must be reinforced repeatedly until the changes have been assimilated into routine function. This change is different for each individual and may occur in 20 -120 sessions depending on the circumstances. QEEG re-testing is performed after every 20 sessions, however weekly data is also collected to ensure progress is being made. Because Neurofeedback is promoting a new way of learning, once the desired changes have been made, re-training is not necessary unless a life-altering event occurs to interrupt the changes (i.e. a traumatic brain injury, severe infection such as meningitis, stroke, etc.)
Medications and Neurofeedback
Individuals seeking Neurofeedback therapy who are also on prescription medication need to be aware that the Neurofeedback therapy may change how the medications affect the body. Therefore it is important to have close communication with the physiatrist or physician prescribing the medication so adjustments in dosage can be made. An individual’s desire to use Neurofeedback therapy to support the lowering of prescription usage or alleviate it completely must be effectively communicated with the Neurofeedback clinician and prescribing physician so that close collaboration can occur.
What is Neauroplasticity?
Neuroplasticity is the brains ability to reorganize itself by creating new connections.
For much too long, the medical world believed that the autonomic nervous system and central nervous system were human systems that functioned completely autonomously. The belief was that you were hard wired from birth and nothing you did could alter the cards you were “supposedly” dealt at your beginning. Thankfully, the hard work from countless researchers with brilliant minds has proven this assumption completely wrong. As human beings we have the innate capability of changing our physiology. With carefully crafted practice, we can alter our mind state, change our body responses and improve our mental and physical health and wellness all through natural means of attending to our body responses. The Mind Body Connection has proven to be such an exquisite gift that, when properly nurtured, can be life changing.
Biofeedback and Neurofeedback are therapeutic tools used to guide such changes and support a healthy mind body connection.
Core Values and Goals for Clients undergoing Neurofeedback with the staff of Advanced Occupational Therapy Services
- Our clinicians aim to complete a well-rounded assessment in order to determine the best approach for each client’s Neurofeedback/Biofeedback therapy.
- We develop a plan that supports the client’s ambitions for therapy in order to enhance quality of life and daily function as much as possible.
- We utilize Neurofeedback and Biofeedback, non-invasive, alternative therapy methods, to make lasting improvements in client’s daily lives.
- Neurofeedback is often sought out as a non-invasive alternative therapy to medication in children with attention and learning difficulties.
Neurofeedback and Biofeedback are commonly used to help clients overcome:
- Attention difficulties
- Learning difficulties (i.e. dyslexia, dysgraphia, etc.)
- Mood instability (feeling depressed or anxious)
- Enhancing performance (peak performance training)
- Improving stress management
- Sensory Modulation difficulties (sensory sensitivity)
- Insomnia (i.e. trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep or getting restful sleep)
AudioVisual Entrainment is a tool that is often incorporated into our client sessions. This tool supports the healthy production of brainwave frequencies during cognitive tasks that may otherwise be depleted under certain circumstances. Using the Viewhole eyeset, AudioVisual Entrainment allows the client to engage in cognitive tasks while receiving the audio and visual feedback in order to guide the brain to a more productive state of functioning during these types of activities (i.e. reading, writing, vocational activities, etc.). For example, many clients complain that they become tired while reading or often times re-read text because they aren’t always able to sustain their attention. The Veiwhole eyeset allows the client to read while the auditory and visual feedback from the equipment facilitates the brain toward a state of better concentration. Many of the settings are also designed to build flexibility in the brain. AudioVisual Entrainment is frequently used in combination with Neurofeedback to enhance effectiveness and often times increase the outcome potentials. Under the strict guidance of our therapists, AudioVisual Entrainment is also offered as a home program.
Helpful Ways to Enhance the Benefits of Neurofeedback/Biofeedback Therapy
- Maintain a healthy diet that limits sugar and caffeine intake as much as possible.
- Maintain healthy sleep habits including:
- Try to go to bed around the same time each night
- Try to get up around the same time each morning
- Try to limit as much light stimulation as possible in your room
- Do not keep electronic devices in your room (smart phones, ipads, TV, etc)
- Try to avoid using electronic devices up to 2 hours before bedtime
- Maintain a cool yet comfortable temperature in your room
- Avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening leading up to bedtime
- Set positive intentions for yourself before you go to sleep
- If you find it helpful, make a list of all the tasks that are on your mind before you go to bed so you can know the list is waiting for you in the morning and you can let it go in order to get a better sleep.
- If you have a tendency to worry, maintain a worry journal. Entering worries into the journal allows you to know they are acknowledged. No need to re-write a worry that already exists, just add any new ones that come up. Remind yourself that your worries are accounted for in the journal and therefore you can know they are accounted for so that you can to go to sleep.