In 2013, Chris Gardner had to undergo brain surgery to remove a tumour.
The operation impaired his mobility and cognition. Despite nearly nine months of therapy, he was making little progress. This is when he decided to try neurofeedback in the hopes Neurofeedback would alleviate his condition. Gardner’s doctor projected a recovery period of two to three years based on his progress following the brain surgery. Gardner decided to undergo neurofeedback therapy.
“I was skeptical. But I was desperate. I felt like I was wrapped in miles of cotton and could not reach through it to touch or feel anything.”
Neurofeedback therapy is a type of biofeedback that teaches the brain to function more efficiently. EEG electrodes monitor the electrical output of the brain. The feedback is shown to the patient on a monitor.
As the patient watches a video, the therapist monitors the data and programs key elements to respond to certain activity. Self-regulation is one of the main aspects of the therapy.
But just how effective is Neurofeedback?
A study published in the Journal of Pediatrics involved 104 children that were randomly selected to receive neurofeedback, no interaction, or cognitive training. Those who received neurofeedback demonstrated improvements in attention and impulse control for longer than six months.
By Gardener’s ninth Neurofeedback session, he was already driving and working from home.
Gardner received tiny pulsed signals to his brain. Research suggests the signals “revive” communication channels which may become impaired due to injury. During sessions, his brain was essentially rewiring itself.
Results for neurofeedback therapy vary for each patient.
“I am not 100 percent. I probably won’t stand on my head or get on a roller coaster. But I can do almost everything I couldn’t do before,” said Gardner.
Neurofeedback has numerous implications for many types of conditions
Research suggests that neurofeedback is effective management for ADHD. Sessions are brief and typically last from 30 to 60 minutes for a total of up to 20 sessions or more. One of the most promising aspects is that benefits remain even after sessions have ended.
Mary Lee Etsy, Ph.D., the founding owner of BRAINSAKE has conducted studies of using neurofeedback to help veterans with PTSD. Based on a small size of seven veterans who underwent therapy, the results were promising.
“These people initially had minimal function. They could not work, and many attempted suicide,” Etsy said. “One is getting a Ph.D now. One has a full scholarship when he could not read after his head injury. All of them are doing well.”
Etsy continues to collaborate with the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences to evaluate the effectiveness of neurofeedback on patients suffering from PTSD.
Based on early studies, neurofeedback has already proven to be effective management with lasting benefits for a range of conditions.
Chris Gardner is one of many patients who have already benefited from such sessions.