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Neurofeedback Therapy

Neurofeedback therapy may be used to treat certain behavior disorders. This article helps define neurofeedback (NFB) therapy, explains what behavior disorders are best treated with NFB, and where to find the best licensed providers for this therapy.

Biofeedback is actually a collection of techniques that give a person a way to view their body's response to their efforts at control, helping them learn to adapt their efforts to make them more successful. It can be used to help people improve how they feel (for example, pain perception control), their health (for example, treating headaches or migraines), or performance (for example, reducing heart rate or improving muscle tone).

Neurofeedback (NFB), also known as EEG Biofeedback (EEG stands for electroencephalogram), is a therapeutic technique that makes the action of the brain visible. When they can see their brains working, patients are able to learn to control brain activity, an activity also called "self-regulation." When the therapy is effective, any medication that is being used to regulate brain function may be able to be reduced or discontinued, but this is decided on a case-by-case basis. Neurofeedback helps treat a variety of conditions: it does not cure them.

In order to access information about brain activity, Neurofeedback therapy begins with applying electrodes to a person's scalp. The signals of the brain's brainwaves is made visible to the client via a computer. With this feedback, the person can learn to shape the brainwaves into a pattern that is efficacious for the desired results. This requires training by an expert and committed by the patient or client. 

Neurofeedback therapy is used to treat a variety of problems. These include

  •  mood disorders, such as depression
  • anxiety disorders, such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • substance issues, such as drug or alcohol abuse
  • birth disorders, such as cerebral palsy and birth trauma
  • sleep disorders, such as nightmares, sleep walking, and bed wetting
  • behavior disorders, such as  Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD), Bipolar Disorder, and Conduct Disorder;
  • other medical and mental health issues, such as migraines and other headaches, seizures, issues of cognitive function, autism spectrum disorders and pervasive developmental delay (PDD), suicidal behavior

Perhaps the most clinical studies have been done on the use of neurofeedback therapy for children with AD/HD, including decreased impulsivity and hyperactivity. At least one study has shown improvement in cognition and IQ score. 

The protocols are geared to the specific problem being addressed, and training in an office setting is done for a discrete period, after which the patient may be able to continue the training remotely. Insurance companies differ on how they cover biofeedback, so people considering it should check their policies. 

The licensing of makers of neurofeedback therapy equipment is done by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and apparently, while it is only supposed to be sold to licensed providers, this is not always done. This means that not all those who have neurofeedback are necessarily licensed to use it. To find licensed providers, you might try the International Society for Neurofeedback Research (ISNR) website here: http://www.isnr.org/ or the Biofeedback Certification International Alliance (BCIA) here: http://www.bcia.org/i



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