Neurofeedback & Brain Injury

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With mild to moderate traumatic brain injury, neurofeedback can provide highly significant assistance toward recovery of many brain functions often compromised because of the injury. Among the problems seen are such things as difficulty concentrating, poor memory, seizures, headaches, poor anger control, and sleep disturbances.Examination of brain activity through the use of computerized EEG (called qEEG) frequently shows an increase in the amount of slow brainwaves (especially theta) in one or more areas of the brain along with a reduction of faster brainwaves (called beta). These changes are associated with reduced efficiency of brain activity depending on the location and the extent of trauma.Neurofeedback training is directed toward assisting the patient in producing a more normalising brain activity pattern. Through a biofeedback of EEG (i.e. “brainwave”) activity, the person learns to voluntarily either decrease theta or to increase beta. Sometimes we have the patient learning to do both at the same time. In this way, the patient begins to recover reduced brain functions through what we call “physical therapy for the brain”. Over and over again we have seen people improve their functioning in very significant and, sometimes, dramatic ways.

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The graph seen here is the training record of a patient we worked with who had experienced a brain injury six years before therapy. The left hemisphere was injured the greatest and he was experiencing profound problems with attention and memory. Of particular importance was his explosive anger which was threatening to end his marriage. Fast brain activity in the beta range was quite low, indicating reduced cortical efficiency. This initial low beta is seen at the left on the graph. One can see a continuous rise in beta activity over the course of training which lasted about five months (“Sessions” on the graph are not days). When therapy was discontinued his beta had risen dramatically. More importantly, his symptoms had improved so much that he felt he was back to his “old self”.

Such cases offer hope for the brain injured patient. The key element is a willingness on the part of the patient to try.

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