How Neurofeedback is Used in the Treatment of ADHD
Neurofeedback, also known as EEG biofeedback, is sometimes used to treat ADHD. It is not invasive and does not usually cause any side effects, unlike many of the common prescription ADHD medications. It works by conditioning the electrical activity of the brain. The therapy involves placing sensors on the scalp of the patient to measure their brain activity. When the brain waves are within the desired range, the patient is rewarded in some way.
One type of neurofeedback for children with ADHD is called Play Attention. It works by placing a helmet on the patient while they play a video game on the computer. The helmet picks up the brain activity while the patient plays the game. When the patient is concentrating, they can continue to play the game, but, once their brain waves show that they are no longer concentrating, the video game stops. Play Attention is becoming very popular because it encourages patients to keep their brain waves within a range that allows them to continue to play the game. Eventually, the brain will train itself to maintain concentration for longer periods of time.
Some experts prefer this method over prescription medications because most medications are not long lasting. They only provide temporary relief of the symptoms of ADHD and do nothing to train the brain to remain focused on it’s own. Other experts do not believe that neurofeedback is an effective treatment for ADHD.
The Effectiveness of Neurofeedback for ADHD
Studies have shown that neurofeedback can be effective in treating many of the symptoms of ADHD. According to the Journal of Neurotherapy, one study showed that this therapy provided an increase in attention and impulse control in up to 86% of those studied. With enough therapy, most of the symptoms of ADHD can either dramatically decrease, or go away completely. If the treatment is successful, these improvements can last for the life of the patient, unlike prescription medications. The treatment does not always work for every patient, but studies show that it can provide some benefits up to 90% of the time. Some types of neurofeedback have also been proven to be more helpful than others. The type that is needed will differ among patients depending on the severity of their ADHD.
The number of neurofeedback sessions needed to properly treat ADHD depends on the severity of the condition. Some patients can start to see an improvement in their symptoms after just five sessions. For severe cases of ADHD, up to fifty sessions may be needed in order to properly train the brain to stay within normal ranges, but the average patient will not need to complete more than forty sessions. The length of each session varies depending on the method that is being used, but they generally last between thirty and forty five minutes.
U.S. News and World Report: Neurofeedback: An ADHD Treatment that Retrains the Brain?
Attention Deficit Disorder Resources: ADHD Treatment with Neurofeedback