Dr. Lonsberry helps clients with a variety of challenges. For more information on a specific issue, please select one of the buttons below.
Neurofeedback versus Medication for Migraine
Are you still suffering from migraines even though you are taking medication?
Are you getting relief from migraine medication but concerned about the side effects?
If you answered “Yes”to either question, neurofeedback training may be right for you.
Although neurofeedback training can stop a migraine while it is occurring, stopping individual migraines is not the main goal. Training with neurofeedback can be very effective in reducing the intensity and frequency of migraines over the long term providing real relief for people suffering from migraines.
The NBC news story focused on on the work of Deborah Stokes, Ph.D, a neurofeedback clinician in Alexandria, VA. One of her patients came to Dr. Stokes after a long history of medications for migraines. She had tried 10 different prescription drugs. She was concerned about the side effects of drowsiness, which could affect driving with her young children. This story discusses how her migraines were impacted by neurofeedback training and reports that she is now migraine free.
Another of Dr. Stokes’ patients was the focus of an ABC news story. Lynn, a flute teacher, was often unable to play music because of her migraines. The migraines were so debilitating that Lynn said, “I really didn’t have a life. I just survived between migraines.” Before trying neurofeedback, she had been though “countless treatments.” After neurofeedback training, Lynn reported that her migraines were “practically non-existent”.
Neurofeedback, which tends to reduce the number and intensity of migraines, is typically used with patients who have already tried a number of other options, including medications, before finding neurofeedback.
How can I relieve the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a serious type of anxiety caused by an extremely stressful event or series of events. People who suffer from PTSD are looking for a method to treat their symptoms. Unfortunately many people experience only limited benefit after trying various therapies and medication.
Research studies show that PTSD is a disorder based in the brain. In PTSD, a severe stress response is triggered which leads to numerous disruptive symptoms. The challenge is to teach the brain to turn off the stress response.
If more health professionals were aware of neurofeedback, it would be one of the primary treatments for PTSD. Training with neurofeedback is so effective with severe PTSD that there are many cases in which professionals and patients have reported that the neurofeedback helped someone with PSTD “get their life back”. Psychiatrists, psychotherapists, and other mental health professionals around the world have achieved success for their patients with PTSD using neurofeedback training.
How does neurofeedback help someone conquer PTSD?
By focusing on the specific areas of the brain affected by PTSD, neurofeedback trains the brain to produce a calm state as well as regulate stress response. Frequently, the first sign of improvement is that a client sleeps better. Then other symptoms begin to improve. It is often possible to significantly reduce medications. After sufficient training, someone with PTSD can maintain a calm state on his or her own. When a person has reached this stable state, neurofeedback treatments can be decreased until no further trainings are necessary.
PTSD Success Stories with the Help of Neurofeedback Training
Mirjana Askovic, a therapist in Sydney, Australia, worked in a hospital treating traumatized war refugees. Askovic found that standard therapies offered few results with these patients. After hearing about neurofeedback, she obtained permission from the hospital to learn how to do neurofeedback training and to use it with her patients.
Askovic found that neurofeedback brought dramatic improvements for her patients with severe PTSD. With her success, the hospital broadened the use of neurofeedback training to include additional patients.
Askovic published a case history of one her patients, Pablo Diego, who developed PTSD after being tortured in Chile during the rule of Pinochet. For 20 years, he had been unable to overcome the psychological damage from the torture. With neurofeedback, he experienced remarkable improvement.
The Homecoming for Veterans organization posted a powerful video chronicling the success of a veteran as a case study to highlight the potential for veterans with PTSD through neurofeedback training.
Why are people suffering with bipolar disorder looking for alternatives to medication?
Medications for bipolar disorder are very problematic due to their side effects, compliance rates, and the results of taking them over a long period.
Medications prescribed for bipolar disorder can cause a variety of troublesome or even dangerous side effects, including liver toxicity, weight gain, rashes, fatigue, sexual side effects, and feeling “flat and robotic” as some have described it. In turn, patients may be prescribed even more medications to counteract the side effects of the original one.
In addition, taking medications for bipolar disorder over the long term can have very negative effects. First, many patients develop a tolerance to their medication, requiring increased dosage to obtain the same benefit they received initially. This increased dosage also brings increased risks of side effects. Sometimes, tolerance is so great that the medication no longer helps at all.
Alternately, others develop a reliance on bipolar medication. Bipolar medications influence the brain and the central nervous system in order to improve mood, energy, sleep, and concentration. Unfortunately, the brain starts to rely on the medication to regulate those issues and does not learn how to cope on its own.
How can neurofeedback help a person with bipolar disorder?
Brain training via neurofeedback teaches the brain to maintain a consistent state. Learning self-regulation allows a person to achieve mood stabilization.
After beginning neurofeedback, clients commonly comment that they can once again “trust their brain.” What does this mean? Bipolar clients undergoing neurofeedback training report less susceptibility to mood swings, increased ability to focus, and reduced anger. Their ability to function increases as they find themselves less reactive and increasingly able to respond and act appropriately.
Ed Hamlin, a neuropsychologist at the Pisgah Institute in North Carolina, reported an ongoing study of the use of neurofeedback in patients diagnosed as biopolar. Of the more than 40 patients studied, many had a history of being frequently hospitalized for bipolar disorder. Following neurofeedback training, patients were able to reduce medications and enjoy stability including increased daily functioning, improved relationships, better performance at work and school, and a dramatic reduction in hospitalizations. Some patients, who had been medicated for 20 years and told that they would be on medications for their entire lives, were able to safely become medication-free.
Bipolar clients can be very sensitive, making proper medication management quite difficult and tricky. It is not uncommon that, with just a few minutes of neurofeedback training, these sensitive patients notice a shift in mood and become more calm. This can occur even when patients are on large dosages of medication. In addition, it can take time to see whether a new medication regimen is effective. As brain functioning improves during neurofeedback training, a neurofeedback practitioner can constantly fine-tune the training to help maintain and build on these gains, even within a single session.
In order to see results, a number of training sessions are necessary, and the number of sessions required differs from person to person, depending upon the complexity and severity of the disorder. Once the individual’s brain is strong enough, training can stop or be reduced to occasional maintenance training.
For most bipolar patients, reducing the use of medications is imperative due to both the unpleasant side effects and the lack of feeling like themselves. It is not recommended that clients reduce medications on their own. However, as neurofeedback training builds stability, most doctors are willing to reduce medications as they observe the increased stability in their patients. And, as stability becomes the dominant pattern in the brain, most clients can begin to reduce neurofeedback training as well.
Sleep and Brain Training
Alternative Insomnia Treatment
At least 40 million Americans each year suffer from chronic, long-term, sleep disorders. An additional 20 million experience occasional sleep problems. Neurofeedback is a powerful tool for helping people fall asleep and stay asleep. Over 3,000 licensed health professionals such as psychologists, therapists and doctors now use this new technology daily with patients. As a group, they report significant and consistent improvements for client sleep problems. It’s often remarkable how quickly sleep can improve with clients who have been to many different specialists and have struggled with sleep for years. Falling asleep and staying asleep is clearly the brain’s job to do. Many brain training options can help as well as making lifestyle changes and changes in sleep ‘hygiene’. A skilled neurofeedback clinician can review many different options with clients to help them assess what is most appropriate for their problem. The capability of neurofeedback to positively impact sleep is powerful. Most people can train their brain to allow sleep again. Since the brain is fundamental to sleep, training it makes complete sense. However, it’s a new technology that the vast majority of physicians and other health professionals are still unaware of it so they don’t as yet recommend it.
What are the most commonly reported sleep issues that improve with neurofeedback training?
1. Insomnia – Difficulty falling asleep; difficulty maintaining sleep during the night
2. Difficulty waking from sleep
3. Difficulty getting to bed
4. Not feeling rested after sleep
5. Sleeping too long (over 10 hours)
6. Physically restless sleep
8. Bedwetting (Nocturnal enuresis)
10. Restless leg syndrome – Leg discomfort or sleep causing movement and arousal
11. Bruxism – teeth grinding during sleep
12. Sleep terrors – Abrupt arousal with intense fear, difficult to awaken, no dream recall or memory of event
14. Dysregulated sleep patterns/cycles (circadian rhythms)
Neurofeedback training often helps these problems as it improves brain regulation. For instance, a 75-year-old woman reported that she “slept like a baby for the first time in 25 years” after neurofeedback training. Parents of children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) often say it’s easier to get their kids to sleep when they’ve had neurofeedback. Depressed clients remark that they have a much easier time getting going in the morning. These are common reports.
The Role of the Brain and Sleep
The brain regulates sleep. The EEG, which shows brainwaves, clearly reflects changes in sleep stages. Training brainwaves using neurofeedback to decrease or increase slow brainwave activity or to increase specific EEG activation patterns appears to help the brain normalize sleep. Based on reports from a large number of health professionals, the evidence shows that training the EEG impacts sleep regulatory mechanisms and people sleep better.
Since sleep is complex and involves many systems, it is not possible to suggest that sleep problems always improve as a result of neurofeedback. Yet clinicians say they routinely expect changes to occur in sleep patterns after appropriate training for a large percentage of their clients. As with any program, a complete sleep assessment is helpful. Sleep hygiene issues (including caffeine, alcohol, and other behavioral factors) and other potential contributory factors, such as possible sleep apnea also need to be carefully reviewed and corrected in combination with neurofeedback training.
ADHD / ADD
How can I treat the symptoms of ADD and ADHD without medication?
People with ADD may have a variety of symptoms. They may be distractible, impulsive and inattentive However, ADD is not laziness or a psychological problem – it’s a brain problem. Doctors know ADD is not laziness; that’s why they prescribe medications.
Unfortunately, medications do not teach a person to cope long-term and medications are accompanied by side effects such as loss of appetite, sleep difficulties, potential cardiac risks and even changes in personality. Moreover, some children with more significant ADD or ADHD may not gain much benefit from medications or behavioral interventions. Over time, people can develop a tolerance to the original medication resulting in the need to increase dosage or add additional medications to the regimen which can then increase the chance of more side effects.
Long-term effects of ADD medications are largely unknown. Ritalin, very often prescribed for the treatment of ADD, has been used to treat ADHD and ADD since the 1960s, but still has not been studied for long-term effects. In fact, the Canadian Medical Association asserts:
While research has conclusively proven Ritalin’s short-term effectiveness; little is known about the long-term efficacy and safety of a drug that some children take for many years. In fact, the average duration of randomized trials of the drug is 3.3 weeks…. There aren’t long-term studies and that’s of some concern because we don’t know whether the initial positive effects… might diminish over time. Moreover, we don’t know what happens to the side-effects… whether those got worse or maybe they diminish too – we don’t really know.
Unlike medication, neurofeedback trains the brain resulting in significant improvement in ADHD/ADD symptoms. With neurofeedback people can increase self-control and attention. According to health professionals who use neurofeedback in their practices, over 85% of clients with ADD/ADHD learn to increase focus, reduce impulsivity, and manage their behavior when they train with neurofeedback on a consistent basis.
Neurofeedback appeals to children – it seems just like a computer game! Instead of controlling the game with a mouse, the child “plays” the game with his or her brain.
Why is neurofeedback more effective than stimulants to treat ADHD in the long term?
Training the brain with neurofeedback helps overcome the problem. If a stimulant literally speeds someone up, why is it prescribed for someone with hyperactivity problems? Why do stimulants seem to help someone with ADHD slow down and focus?
In someone with ADHD, the areas of the brain that control attention and focus may have too much slow activity. This slow activity can also lead to feeling depressed, worried, and unmotivated. Unconsciously, people with ADHD increase body movements to stimulate and “wake” their brains. Therefore, stimulants are prescribed to increase brain activity without increasing body movement.
However, people with ADHD may already be experiencing too much fast activity in some regions of the brain. This can lead to other problems such as acting aggressively, impulsively, or feeling anxious. Someone’s brain can race so fast it makes it hard for them to sit still or listen. In fact, because people with ADD are often quite intelligent, they understand concepts quickly. However, their fast mental pace may cause them to move ahead before all the instructions are given causing them to miss crucial details. Research shows that neurofeedback is a successful alternative to treating ADHD and ADD. ADD and ADHD are brain problems. Neurofeedback allows people to work directly on the problem by training the brain. With neurofeedback the brain learns how to become calmer, more focused, and increase self-control. With neurofeedback, you learn to take control – reducing the too-fast and too-slow brain waves that occur in the brains of those with ADD and ADHD.
Usually anxiety results from one’s response to stress. The stress can be psychological, physical, dietary, or environmental, like loud noises. Once a person gets locked into a pattern of anxiety, it can be hard to break. Learning how to modulate or turn off chronic stress responses is life changing. Neurofeedback helps people learn to change past anxiety-producing responses to stress. With brain training, they can develop the skills they need to reduce or eliminate anxiety in their lives.
How do you know it is anxiety?
Anxiety comes in various forms. Sometimes anxiety includes excessive worrying, a nagging sense of fear, restlessness, overly emotional responses, negative thinking, catastrophizing, awfullizing and defensiveness. Anxiety is involved in addiction, perfectionism, being overly controlling and behavioral issues.
Anxiety sufferers are often overwhelmed, exhausted and stressed out. Some can’t concentrate due to their intense internal focus. Others obsess about specific things. The constant internal chatter can get so bad that it interrupts their sleeping and steals their quality of life. They don’t live in the present; they constantly worry about the future or live in the past.
Teaching the brain is the solution.
Helping people learn to calm or quiet themselves is by far the best and most effective solution for anxiety. Learning to decrease anxiety gives suffers hope as they take control of their lives. Biofeedback and EEG neurofeedback are two of the quickest and fastest ways to teach people to learn to help themselves and it is easy to learn. These technologies have been used for many years with solid, proven results. Its true, one can learn how to decrease anxiety and remain calmer with neurofeedback. Learning this life skill decreases the need for dependence upon medications and improves quality of life.
When medications aren’t working to treat depression, what is the alternative?
During the past decade, large numbers of mental health professionals have been looking for a new technique to treat depression due to the limited results many patients experience with medication and psychotherapy alone. With medications for depression, including the commonly prescribed SSRI class drugs such as Prozac and Lexapro, many patients with depression continue to struggle. Additionally, a person’s brain develops a reliance on the medication which makes it difficult to stop taking it and manage mood on one’s own.
Neurofeedback trains the brain to regulate mood.
After training with neurofeedback, people with depression report that they are better able to stabilize their moods and that their motivation improves.
How does neurofeedback help in the treatment of depression?
Feeling down or depressed from time to time happens to most people. Usually such feelings pass and a person can improve his or her mood naturally. However, some people cannot break out of a depressed state over an extended period of time. In such cases, a person is considered to have clinical depression. However, there is much research that shows that depression is neurological - not psychological. Certain brain patterns are frequently linked to depression.
Therefore, training the brain through neurofeedback has a powerful ability to treat depression. With neurofeedback training, the brain practices a healthy pattern of mood regulation. Sometimes people with depression notice improvement after only a few sessions. However, for the brain to fully learn, more training is required. In time, the brain learns to regulate mood on its own.
With Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), a person can’t stop repeating specific behaviors or stop his or her brain from repeating particular thoughts.
A substantial body of research shows that problems with OCD are related to the functioning of areas in the front of the brain. If that part of the brain is working too slowly or quickly, a person is unable to stop repeating certain thoughts or behaviors.
In some cases, medications improve the issues. However, many times with medication the OCD does not improve or does not improve significantly. In addition, people taking OCD medications can suffer unwanted side effects.
How can OCD be treated without medication?
With OCD, the logical goal should be to adjust the part of the brain that is “stuck” to end the continuous repetition of certain thoughts or behaviors. Through neurofeedback training, that is technologically possible.
Many therapists and other health professionals using neurofeedback to treat OCD note marked reductions in OCD symptoms in their clients after neurofeedback training. People with OCD relate that, after neurofeedback training, they do not really need to make an effort to stop unwanted repetitive thoughts and behaviors. They say that they their minds are much quieter. With neurofeedback training, the brain learns to respond to situations in a more conventional and healthy manner.
Can Neurofeedback Help Reduce Stress?
The short answer is - Yes it can. It can do this in two ways:
· It can help alleviate the symptoms of Stress.
· It can train the brain to cope better with Stress and avoid the symptoms.
What is Stress
Stress is a common term in our current busy society and is best described by how one feels and responds when dealing with challenges and pressures. Stress can be experienced within relationships, at school or work or when dealing with health or financial issues. The responses to stress can vary enormously. For some, stress can have a motivating effect leading one to work harder with more focus. For another, it can limit his or her concentration and mistakes are made. For some it can even cause more severe consequences. This ‘bad stress’ is sometimes called ‘distress’. The cause of stress is the production of excessive ‘stress hormones’. When experiencing pressure, the central nervous system is activated causing the body to produce stress hormones as part of the natural ‘fight or flight response’ designed to prepare our bodies mentally and physically for danger. Normally, the level of stress hormones will stabilize again when the pressure has gone, but when there is persistent pressure or when pressures are too high to cope with, the level of stress hormones stays too high generating several mental and physical symptoms. In such situations, stress can have a great impact on someone’s feelings, thoughts and behaviors, as well appetite and sleeping patterns. What causes stress differs from person to person. Stress is a problem when an individual perceives that the demands on them are more than they can cope with.
Symptoms of Stress
Experienced symptoms of stress differ from person to person. It is important to identify symptoms of stress in an early stage because, when untreated, stress can cause (more) severe mental and physical health problems. Associated symptoms of stress can be cognitive, emotional, physical, or behavioral.
Treatment for Stress
The initial step in treating stress is often prevention; learning to read the signs that stress is coming on and self-managing stress. Preventative measures include relaxation techniques, talking with someone, exercise and support in planning and organization. When stress remains after applying these ‘basic’ options, stress management groups, counseling or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is commonly recommended. In case of more severe health problems, prescribed medication could be considered.
Stress and Neurofeedback
Another option to reduce stress is Neurofeedback. Neurofeedback training has proven to be very helpful in stress, especially since the central nervous system – which enables the body to produce stress hormones – is trained to cope better with varying demands to avoid stress. This is different to managing stress, where one learns to deal with stress symptoms, or medication, which suppresses the symptoms. With Neurofeedback the central nervous system can be stabilized. Additionally, the agitation caused by stress can be calmed down and self control can be increased. This will decrease feelings of anxiety or anger and improve self-esteem, concentration and organizational skills.
How can you stop the “revolving door” of addiction?
With relapse rates sky-high in the majority of addiction programs, people struggling with addiction can find themselves in and out of treatment and rehabilitation programs for years. Often, people with addiction even leave a treatment program before completion. Neurofeedback helps bring increased success to the treatment of addiction. Combining neurofeedback with other addiction treatments can help a person finally escape the cycle of addiction.
Why is neurofeedback so effective?
Many people think addiction is due to a lack of self-discipline, but addiction is physiological, not psychological. People with addiction are often called “weak” by their family and friends, but addiction is a disease and it is very hard to change. Addicts struggle with emotions such as guilt and shame, anger and frustration.
Addiction is a brain disease, a mental health disorder that severely debilitates a person in all aspects of his or her life. In addition, people with addiction frequently suffer from other mental health disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder or anxiety. Neurofeedback treats the brain disorder of addiction. Through neurofeedback, a person’s brain is retrained. Teaching the brain how to be calm, focused and relaxed helps a person think more clearly. Neurofeedback training provides a solid base on which to build recovery and prevent relapses. It helps teach the tools one needs to cope long term. Medications may be helpful and useful to begin change in the short-term. Recovery from addiction is about the long term.
How does an addict stop the cycle of addiction?
Neurofeedback retrains the brain patterns causing dysfunction thus giving a person with addiction the ability to succeed past the typical 30-day treatment cycle. For a person who has relied on a substance to manage addiction day-to-day, medications may be just another substance.
How does neurofeedback help end addiction?
During times of stress, a person with addiction needs to be able to remain calm, reasonable and rational in order to make the choices needed to stay clean and sober. Neurofeedback teaches a person’s brain to connect to a calm, rational state, even in stressful situations.
According to a number of research studies, integrating neurofeedback training into one’s treatment program yields higher rates of success and lower rates of relapse than treatment programs without neurofeedback - for all age groups. In addition, heath professionals who use neurofeedback report that more than 85% of their clients that train with neurofeedback improve their ability to focus and regulate behavior and reduce their impulsivity.
Since neurofeedback helps a person manage emotions and mood and improve sleep, adding neurofeedback to an addiction treatment program gives people the necessary tools to help them be in control, achieve success and avoid relapse.
Neurofeedback is a respectful approach to treating addiction. It helps replace maladaptive behaviors with more healthy patterns. People with addiction don’t want this disease. They want to learn new ways to manage it. Neurofeedback can help a person be aware of triggers that often lead to numbing and destructive behavior patterns.
With neurofeedback, a person can gain the tools necessary to free themselves from the destructive cycles of addiction.
Dissolving Physical Pain
Pain is epidemic in our culture. Pain is not just a throbbing headache or an aching neck, but can be a broad range of sensations. It is any sensation or feeling that has an unpleasant or unwanted quality or intensity of experience that lingers over time. This includes a wide array of emotions such as anxiety, hatred, sadness, embarrassment, loneliness and depression. It includes all forms of physical pain – sharp, pulsating, shooting, dull or fuzzy. And it includes such everyday pains as headaches, muscle spasms, back pain and body aches.
Culturally we hold a one-dimensional view of pain, the “telegraph-wire” model, wherein pain signals are sent to and perceived in our brain. Surgeons can either cut the wire to interrupt the transmission or drug the pain into submission. Some models of pain, however, hold that tissue damage is a small part of the total picture. A host of other physical and psychological factors determine how pain is perceived thus affecting everything from the intensity of the pain to its nature, sharp or dull or throbbing, to how other neural signals may enhance or compete with the pain.
The central nervous system is responsible for perceiving and registering pain. If it is running at too high a speed, it does a poor job of handling pain signals. It becomes more reactive and hypersensitive; registering pain that might not have any physical cause and making minor pain seem much worse than it is. So pain – even physical pain—is a product of how we habitually attend. Chronic narrow-objective attention, which is the style of attention that we use when we tough it out and unconsciously push the pain away and keep it at bay by averting our attention, actually makes things worse.
In large measure, these symptoms are products of an electrically unstable or overactive brain. Drugs can be helpful, but they have side effects and taking a drug doesn’t teach us how to establish stable brain activity or stable attention on our own. A brain that can be electrically stable when necessary (and flexible when necessary) can deal with pain much more effectively than one that is not. My own clinical experience has shown that neurofeedback training can guide us to deploy our attention so as to achieve greater brain stability and flexibility.
To effectively deal with pain we need to do the opposite of what we usually do. When we feel pain, we automatically want to distance ourselves from it and fight it. We think that resisting or otherwise avoiding the pain will give us some relief. But over the long term exactly the reverse is true. We give power to pain by narrowly objectifying away from it, whether consciously or unconsciously. By contrast, moving toward pain in an open focused attention style allows it to diffuse into a broader awareness and thus to dissipate and dissolve. It is possible that accepting pain instead of fighting it could prevent swelling and inflammation.
The act of narrowing and objectifying attention of a painful leg, for example, holds the pain at a distance and triggers additional nervous-system arousal. This makes the brain more reactive and the leg more painful, which in turn coincides with more narrow-objective attention. As a result, the pain takes on an exaggerated place in our narrow awareness. Once it is triggered, this feedback loop tends to sustain the emergency form of attention and thus it takes some time to recover electrical and attentional stability.
As a person moves from a narrow focus on pain to diffuse attention, his or her physiological arousal levels are lowered and a broadened awareness develops around the pain. With this broadened scope of attention, opening to and accepting pain and moving even closer to it diminishes its intensity. When our pain becomes a small portion of our total broadened awareness it becomes more acceptable, less threatening and can readily be merged with and dissolved altogether.
How to Better Deal with Pain
The process of dissolving pain begins by establishing a physically quiet, low-frequency style of attention. Once clients in diffuse attention have objectified their pain and the space in, around, and through it, they imagine moving toward the pain, eventually merging with it. The sequence of attention styles usually necessary for pain dissolution begins with the client in narrow-objective attention and at least somewhat averse to full and direct experience of the pain. The client is first guided to include in his peripheral awareness a diffuse attention to all available senses in space. This is developed while attention is centered in feeling his/her pain and the space that pervades all sensations. Keeping this diffuse attention in awareness, the second step is to narrow and objectify the pain by physically feeling its location in the body, its shape, and its intensity (on a zero-to-ten scale). The third step establishes a clearer, more direct objective attention to the pain with a simultaneous diffuse experience of space and sensations as a background. The fourth attention change involves creating the permissive conditions for merging one’s conscious awareness into the center or heart of the experience of pain, thus allowing it to spread, diffuse, dissipate, and dissolve over a period of one to thirty seconds.
Repression and chronic avoidance of pain causes an immense energy drain. Once pain has been dissolved it frees up energy. Clients who have dissolved their pain – physical or emotional – using neurofeedback-trained attentional skills often feel more centered, as if they have slipped back into their own “skin” after a long absence.
TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) - Stroke
Currently, there is little formal rehabilitation for someone who has suffered a stroke or traumatic brain injury (TBI) that occurred more than two years in the past. Sometimes, additional physical, speech, or occupational therapy is offered, but usually no major progress is expected at that point. However, neurofeedback therapy can bring about dramatic improvements significantly beyond the two-year mark.
For example, at a conference, a therapist shared a case in which a patient showed significant improvement three years after suffering a stroke. Since the stroke, the patient’s left hand had been constantly and completely clenched. After her tenth neurofeedback training session, the patient began to open and use her hand. How did neurofeedback help bring about that change? The therapist targeted the neurofeedback training near the brain’s motor strip – an area involved in controlling muscles and muscle tone. Through neurofeedback training, it is possible to reorganize the motor circuits. In this instance, it was successful and enabled the patient to regain motor function in her hand.
Why is neurofeedback so effective in rehabilitation for stroke and traumatic brain injury (TBI)?
Stroke and TBI involve injuries to the brain. Therefore, to treat those injuries, the brain itself needs to be targeted. With neurofeedback, the brain is exercised. Brain training is completely individualized and the specific areas of the brain affected by the stroke or TBI are targeted during neurofeedback therapy. A variety of symptoms can be improved through neurofeedback training such as speech, movement, regulating moods, controlling behavior and reducing headaches. Neurofeedback works because the brain regulates each of those issues.
For people recovering from stroke or TBI, neurofeedback training can be particularly helpful in improving speech. During neurofeedback training, the specific areas of the brain related to speech can be targeted and thereby strengthened and improved. In fact, some neuropsychologists believe that neurofeedback actually rehabilitates the damaged speech areas of the brain rather than just compensating.
A speech therapist specializing in stroke and TBI began using neurofeedback training with her patients in the first hospital-based program to employ neurofeedback training. When interviewed, the speech therapist reported more instances of progress in speech improvement for stroke and TBI patients in the one year since implementing neurofeedback training than in the whole previous ten years. She feels that training the brain directly greatly increases success. The amount of recovery possible after stroke or TBI is dependent on numerous factors. However, the experience of therapists and their patients has shown that many people can increase their recovery through neurofeedback training even well after the incident.