Neurofeedback in an Integrative Medical Practice

“Restoring the Brain:  Neurofeedback as an Integrative Approach to Health” has been published.  I wrote a chapter about successfully applying neurofeedback to treat patients with conditions that are not necessarily thought of as being primarily brain based.  These included chronic pain, fibromyalgia, diabetes, asthma, and gastrointestinal problems, as well as traumatic brain injury, seizure disorder, autism, ADD/ADHD, and headache.  It was an honor to participate in the effort that produced such a fine book.  For those who care to find out more about the history, theoretical underpinnings, and application of neurofeedback, “Restoring the Brain” is an excellent resource.

Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Children with Neurological Conditions

A study of children in the US with certain common neurological conditions such as headaches, migraines, and seizures showed that they were nearly twice as likely to use some form of complementary or alternative medicine (CAM) than children without these conditions. Of the CAM techniques used, the most popular were mind-body techniques.

This data seems to reflect how poorly current medical models for treatment of these conditions perform in real world settings. In my practice, I see two main issues. The first is the lack of effective treatments, mostly in the form of medicines. However, even such highly technological and expensive procedures as deep brain stimulators seem to have only limited efficacy. Even more prominently, is the problem of unacceptable side effects. So many medicines that are meant to correct certain aspects of brain function cause symptoms that can be just as debilitating or worse than the original problem. The biggest issue is often sedation. In children as well as adults, being “out of it” for much of the time makes them inaccessible for high quality social interactions, learning, exercise, and other activities that are essential for normal brain development and maintenance.

No wonder these children, or more likely their parents, are turning to CAM.

While neurofeedback is not a panacea, it tends to have some significant positive impact on most brain-based conditions. Its lack of side effects is one of its most notable benefits over medicines or invasive surgical procedures. Neurofeedback allows most brains to re-engage with their environment. Then social skills improve, learning become easier, physical activity levels increase, and overall well-being makes improvements.

Too bad allopathic medicine is just beginning to realize what many health providers and health consumers have realized for a long time. Treatment of brain-based symptoms need to be carefully individualized. Frequently, CAM techniques like neurofeedback, which promotes brain regulation, are an excellent place to begin.