Neurofeedback Offers Help For Attention Issues

For children, teenagers and adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) concentrating on even simple tasks can be very difficult and frustrating.

Although medication can be helpful for many people, some people cannot tolerate medication and others prefer to pursue non-medical remedies.  EEG biofeedback, or neurofeedback, is one such remedy.

Neurofeedback helps improve brain function by training pathways in the brain to focus more efficiently. This technology helps with concentration and attention problems by retraining the brain to sustain attention and improve processing.

The brain transmits signals every second called brainwaves. These waves can be monitored and recorded using an EEG, electroencephalogram. 

During neurofeedback, sensors are placed on the patient’s scalp and then connected to sensitive electronics and computer software that help detect, amplify and record specific brain activity. 

The EEG shows wavy lines with peaks and valleys and allows doctors to assess abnormal patterns. EEG’s are often used to rule out conditions like stroke, memory problems, seizure disorders, head injuries and sleep disorder. They can also be used to help detect alertness and attention in real time. That’s where the headset and the game come into play.

Traditional neurofeedback is done in the office, usually with video games as feedback, which are controlled by brain activity.

The in-office training is done twice a week for 20 weeks and takes about four months to complete.

“We’ve had some great success with neurofeedback, and we are excited to now be able to offer neurofeedback training not only in our office but also at home,” Dr. Frank Harbin says. “The at-home training is affordable and allows patients to finish the training quicker and in the comfort of their home on their schedule.”

Harbin Clinic Psychology is now offering a new home neurofeedback training device as well.  The device includes a headset, which the patient wears while playing a game or watching a video on a tablet.

The headset records the brains electrical impulses using EEG.  The tablet has six games, each which is controlled by brain activity.  There is also the option to watch designated YouTube videos. 

The patient controls a character in the game. When the patient is focused, the character runs faster on the screen. This gives the patient instant feedback and encourages them to pay attention to keep the character moving faster. 

When the patient’s mind starts wandering, the character slows down, forcing the patient to pay attention again to speed the character up.

If the patient chooses to watch videos instead, when the patient's attention wanders from the screen the video goes dark.

The patient plays these games at home, and the doctor can monitor the patients’ brain activity and progress remotely. The home option allows the patient to train five days a week and be able to finish the program in about two months.

The entire process helps to train the brain to be more attentive.

Patients using neurofeedback can make significant progress in learning how to maintain their attention, reducing hyperactivity, increasing adaptability to change, improving organizational skills as well as many other areas symptomatic of ADD and ADHD. 

Training can work for patients even while on medication. Several studies have shown that about 80 percent of trainees may reduce or eliminate the need for medication. 

Results vary from patient to patient, but improvements typically show up within the first five training sessions. The improved calmness and focus can last anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours after a training session. 

These improvements tend to start increasing and lasting throughout the day after 10 to 20 sessions. 

“Neurofeedback is a fun, painless way to help people with attention issues,” Dr. Harbin says. “When it works, for most people, it’s long term.”

To find out if neurofeedback might be able to help, contact Harbin Clinic Psychology by calling 762-235-3640.