Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is characterised by inattention and impulsive behaviour. The condition is the most commonly diagnosed disorders of children, affecting 10 per cent of school aged children with boys being diagnosed at a much higher rate than girls. ADHD is not limited to early ages as it can continue into adulthood.
Distinguishing between ADHD and normal behaviour makes diagnosis difficult.
It is normal for children to daydream during class or occasionally forget their homework, however inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity are also early signs of ADHD. Early intervention is important as the condition has a strong impact on learning and social interaction.
Traditional treatment involves behavioural therapy and prescriptions of stimulants such as Dexamphetamine or Ritalin to decrease hyperactivity and increase attention span. However, stimulants come with a host of side effects that make them less than an ideal option for some children.
Neurofeedback is one of the most promising interventions for children diagnosed with ADHD.
What is Neurofeedback?
Neurofeedback is a safe, drug-free and non-invasive technique of training the brain to function more efficiently.
Client brainwave activity is recorded and the information is relayed to a monitor where clients learn to control their brain by suppressing or activating certain areas.
The process uses a reward-based system. Clients are given instant positive feedback when their brain frequencies are within the set parameters. Neurofeedback is essentially a type of self-regulation training that improves brain functions.
How effective is Neurofeedback?
Research is still ongoing but early results are promising as a viable option for ADHD. Neurofeedback is rated as a ‘best practice’ intervention for ADHD by the American Society of Pediatrics.
How Neurofeedback Helps
The idea behind neurofeedback is to help children improve their attention span. This is especially important for activities that require sustained attention such as in school environments.
Neurofeedback sessions are typically provided by mental health professionals such as psychologists.
Clients are able to monitor their own brain wave patterns and are instructed to focus on certain tasks by using the feedback as guides. This enables them to train their own brain. People can then utilise these same strategies when they are no longer attached to the sensors to improve their focus.
In some studies, children who underwent neurofeedback demonstrated improved control and attention. A more recent study sheds new light on neurofeedback.
Andhra University Research
Researchers at the Andhra University in India conducted research on the brain waves of children diagnosed with ADHD. For the study, 20 children between the ages of seven and 13 years were selected to receive neurofeedback training and behavioural therapies.
Out of the group of children, 15 had ADHD and the other five had ADD. Participants in the study underwent 40 sessions of neurofeedback.
The results are yet to be published, but the following observation was made:
“The study found that when ADHD kids are treated with neuro-biofeedback, other system begins to improve as the brain wave is regulated. Attention, oppositional behaviour, sleep pattern, irritability, depression anxiety, anti-social behaviour, retention and memory improve. The child becomes less impulsive, less fidgety and fussy with increased mood stability. The improvement in neuro-physiological measures is permanent unlike in the case of the use of stimulant medication. The IQ score increased by at least 10 points.”
Neurofeedback as a management strategy for ADHD has proven to be highly effective.
But perhaps most surprising are the implications in other areas. For example, people suffering from depression or anxiety may also benefit from neurofeedback sessions, the results so far are promising.