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I am very happy to announce that earlier this year I won the Bauer Research Award from the Michigan Parkinson Foundation, which will allow me to conduct an intervention study testing two different neurofeedback protocols with Parkinson's Disease patients. More information is available here.
I have been intending to write this blog post for some time but have struggled with just what to say and most importantly, to advise. Many parents, including me, debate how much screen time to allow their children. Moreover, it is difficult to monitor what kids are watching or doing on smart phones, tablets, computers, and TV. Parents worry about the effect of screen time, video games of all sorts, and how to make sense of it all. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently revised its decade-old policy regarding screen time, recognizing that the previous "2 hours a day" rule no longer applies, especially given the amount of screen time required for school work alone. AAP recommendations now include having a "media plan" for your child, including turning off screens well before bedtime, and promoting a healthy "media diet". I applaud the AAP recommendations but also understand just how difficult it is to get a child away from a screen, as well as the effect of screen time on the brain. Here are some thoughts:
It is difficult to distill all the information that's available about parenting. One concept that I subscribe to is called Connection Parenting. The idea is that if a child misbehaves, it is because he is out of connection with parents, peers, or others, and thus, the misbehavior. Someone hurt his feelings, intentionally or not, he is just having bad day, or for some other reason, he feels out of connection with others. Our typical response to misbehavior is to move the child further out of connection, such as placing him in a time out, sending him to the office at school, and so on, when in fact, what the child needs is MORE connection, not less. Dis-connection is based on fear (do what I say or I will remove my approval), while connection is based on love (I love and care about you no matter what and really want to know what is going on).
There are a lot of boys in my son's after school program. One day they are all friends and the next, they have had some disagreements. When I pick up my son from school and find that he has had some challenges with other kids, the first thing I do is hug him for as long as he wants to hug. I get a pretty good assessment of his day by how long and hard he hugs me. Next, I ask him what happened and listen to his entire story. Then, we talk to the child care worker and come to some resolution. Sometimes, the resolution is that he and the other kid apologize to each other, sometimes it means problem-solving with the worker about what to do next time, sometimes the two kids shake hands or hug. The goal is for him to re-connect and form deeper connections. It is the web of connections -- relationships -- we have in life that mold us into the adults we become, and these small events are all part of the web. Here are a few ideas:
Whether you are a college student or the parent of an elementary age child, middle- or high schooler, you have many options for how you spend your summer. If issues such as ADD, ADHD, learning problems, focus, or behavior problems are interfering with academic achievement, consider investing some time this summer that can have big rewards in the next academic year. Neurofeedback (NFB) is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics for the treatment of ADHD, and numerous studies over many years have shown the effectiveness of NFB in the treatment of a wide variety of issues that affect learning, behavior, and social interaction. Getting to appointments during the summer is a usually a little easier without the pressure of school schedules, sports, and other activities. Enjoy the beach and the sun this summer! But also make a plan for a better school year next September. Call or email us for more information or to schedule an appointment.
I am all too familiar with the pain and life changes that come with a chronic pain condition such as migraine. Some days, you feel like yourself, other days you feel like the Walter Matthau or Jack Lemmon characters from Grumpy Old Men. Other days are, of course, worse. I had migraine for more than 20 years. I prefer the term head pain because I think it more aptly captures the significant interplay of pain associated with migraine, which extends well beyond just a bad headache.
The great news is that neurofeedback (NFB) helps with head pain. I had already been through so much treatment by the time I discovered NFB that I really had no expectations -- if it helped, great -- if not, that would be OK too. At the time I began NFB treatment I was taking a heavy daily dose of an anti-seizure medication used to treat head pain. To my amazement, NFB eliminated head pain from my life. During NFB treatment, I worked with my doctor to gradually step-down my medication. Within about 8 months of beginning NFB, my head pain was gone, it has never returned, and I have remained medication-free.
When you live with a chronic pain condition, you get accustomed to not feeling well. It gets hard to maintain hope. Three years into the head pain, a doctor told me I was likely to have that level of head pain the rest of my life. Gratefully, that prognosis did not determine my outcome. Never stop trying to address your pain. When it comes to head pain, NFB can help!
Below is a link to a randomized controlled study that shows the following:
For the neurofeedback group the majority (54%) experienced complete cessation of their migraines, and many others (39%) experienced a reduction in migraine frequency of greater than 50%. Four percent experienced a decrease in headache frequency of <50%. Only one patient did not experience a reduction in headache frequency. The control group of subjects who chose to continue drug therapy as opposed to neurofeedback experienced no change in headache frequency (68%), a reduction of less than 50% (20%), or a reduction greater than 50% (8%).
Already in a great relationship that you would like to make even better? I offer couples a series of weekly sessions that include personality assessments and other tools. The result is increased understanding of what makes each of you tick and a path for building on individual strengths. Call or email for more information.
Can neurofeedback (NFB) help with Parkinson's Disease (PD)? Studies have demonstrated improved balance in PD patients with as few as 8 sessions (Azarpaikan, et al., 3/30/14, in press). In another study, published in The Journal of Neuroscience, motor function improvement was statistically significant in a randomized controlled study (RCT) using NFB (Subramanian, et al., 2011). The authors conclude "These findings demonstrate that self-modulation of cortico- subcortical motor circuits can be achieved by PD patients through neurofeedback and may result in clinical benefits that are not attainable by motor imagery alone." Though PD is a progressive disease, studies such as these provide hope for reducing and delaying symptoms and providing relief to Parkinson's sufferers.
Read more from the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI):
An estimated 6-9% of all children have symptoms diagnosable as ADD or ADHD. While we often think of these conditions as affecting only kids, an estimated 60-70% of kids with ADD/ADHD continue to have symptoms into adulthood. ADD and ADHD are the result of dis-regulation in the brain. The dis-regulation can be over- or under-activity in different parts of the brain. Neurofeedback (NFB) helps achieve regulation and therefore, restores balance and optimal functioning. Symptoms of childhood ADD/ADHD include problems paying attention, impulsivity, and problems sitting still or being quiet. Symptoms in adults include anxiety, chronic boredom, chronic forgetfulness and lateness, depression, anger, and procrastination. Compared to other adults, those with ADD/ADHD miss more days of work, have more co-occurring conditions (for example, depression, anxiety, substance abuse), and have higher medical costs.
Call or email the office for more information or to schedule a pediatric or adult assessment.
Below are links to (1) a study published in the journal Pediatrics showing sustained effects of NFB with a group of 100 7-11 years olds and (2) a study published in the Journal of Adult Development showing the positive effects of NFB with adults with ADD/ADHD.
The nature of injuries from the recent wars has brought much needed attention to brain injury and its consequences. Brain injury can be traumatic (resulting from car accidents, falls, or wounds) or non-traumatic (resulting from stroke, surgery, or infections). With injury comes a dis-regulated brain, and research has shown that NFB can help in recovery from brain injury by restoring regulation. Issues that NFB can address following brain injury include cognition, mood, sleep, and head pain. Brain injury clients have also reported feeling more like themselves following NFB treatment. Even during treatment, when problems from the injury are still ongoing, clients report feeling more in control and calm. Click the link below for more information from the International Brain Injury Association.
JoAnne McFarland O'Rourke