“Most forms of neurofeedback involve clinically micromanaging the brain,” he said. “The LENS uses a tiny stimulus to bump the brain out of its habitual parking place. It disrupts the place that the brain is stuck, allowing it to pick its own self-corrective adjustments. If we do it just right, there’s an almost immediate improvement in mood, function, energy and then a more gradual improvement of symptoms.”
LENS has also been used as a treatment for traumatic brain injury and other disorders including stroke, PTSD, anxiety, depression and attachment disorder. And patients suffering from neurological symptoms related to Lyme disease, fibromyalgia and age-related cognitive decline have also found relief. “The important thing all neurofeedback aims at is to make the central nervous system more flexible and give us the ability to move smoothly between whatever is asked of us behaviorally, whether activity or rest,” explained Larsen
Following a year of the LENS treatment, Gavin has continued to work at Stone Mountain using more traditional biofeedback brain-training modalities, including HEG (hemoencephalography), which addresses executive functioning by measuring the brain blood flow to the prefrontal cortex, and Interactive Metronome, which helps improve the connection between the right and left hemisphere of the brain for better fluidity, improved attention, memory and coordination.
In his practice at the Hudson Valley Center for Neurofeedback, licensed psychologist Dan Meyer uses neurofeedback in the form of BrainMaster brainwave monitoring and analysis programs to treat a wide range of conditions. After assessments that include developing a brain map similar to that used for the LENS, Meyer’s treatments also work below the level of consciousness but don’t use external electrical stimulation. Meyer will supplement neurotherapy treatments with psychotherapy and offers an eight-week educational seminar for parents of children with ADHD.
“Our BrainMaster program retrains the brain’s electrical activity and patterns of connectivity,” said Meyer, “and we’re very pleased with the results we see in our young patients — and so are their parents.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage of children diagnosed with ADHD — inattentive and hyperactive — increased from 7 percent to 9 percent from 1998 through 2009. Although mainstream ADHD experts have pointed to flaws in many of the studies that private neurofeedback practitioners have published, in 2009 the National Institutes of Health published a study that concluded that neurofeedback treatment for ADHD can be effective.
During her more than 20 years of practice, psychologist Lenore Strocchia-Rivera, founder and director of Learning Insights in Highland, has worked with many children diagnosed with ADHD. “Although the weight of the evidence still supports medication, neurofeedback is an important alternative, especially for people who have strong feelings about medication,” said Strocchia-Rivera, who specializes in evaluations, assessments, training and consultations.
Several months into his LENS treatment, Gavin was continuing to gain control of his behavior when his father died of cancer. Murray feared that the trauma would trigger a regression of his ADHD impulsivity and inattention and when Hospice offered a grief-counseling group, she hesitated to send him for fear he would be disruptive. He wasn’t. “I was worried, but in the group he was he was so articulate, able to differentiate and express all his emotions — his fear, grief and anger,” Murray said. “The LENS gave him access to the different parts of his brain that he hadn’t had easy access to before.”
Today, Gavin has an aide in his classroom that he turns to for help meeting his sensory needs. With his attention and impulsivity under control, he has surpassed all academic benchmarks for his grade and his behavior is indistinguishable from the other seven-year old children in his class. He has also managed to gracefully integrate three new stepsiblings into his life.
“The LENS and other biofeedback treatments help change how your brain communicates with your body in a way that is lasting, instead of changing it with medications which, when they wear off, leave you right back to dealing with the same troubles,” said Murray. “It seems like a much better alternative.”
Find out more
Wednesday, November 10 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Stone Mountain Center will hold a bimonthly open house, at which Larsen will talk about patient success stories. He will also introduce Debra Burdick, a clinical social worker, neurotherapist and author who joined Stone Mountain’s staff after moving to New York last year. Burdick will discuss neurofeedback and other factors important to the management of ADHD. As the mother of a daughter with ADHD and the author of several books, including A Holistic Approach to Successful Children with ADHD — A Home Study System for Parents, Burdick has developed a 14-step solution for unlocking a child’s potential. Visit www.TheBrainLady.com to learn more.
The open house will also give current and prospective clients as well as other healthcare providers the opportunity to ask questions and enjoy light refreshments. Visit the Stone Mountain website or call (845) 658-3874.
Learning Insights at 20 Milton Ave. in Highland will present its next parent workshop, “Changing Behavior by Changing the Brain” on Dec. 1, with a presentation by psychologist Dan Meyer. There is a suggested donation of $10, and refreshments will be served. Registration for the free workshop is required. Contact Dr. Rivera at (845) 532-1575.