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.
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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.
Why combine counseling and neurofeedback (NFB)? Neurofeedback can effectively address the brain imbalances that we see with issues such as depression and anxiety. But, is that it? Typically, not. Once these issues begin to subside, other issues can take center stage. We all get into patterns of behavior – some are adaptive and some less so. Combining NFB and counseling provides a window of opportunity to address long-standing brain imbalances and to then wholly deal with relationship and other issues that may have resulted from those imbalances. The goal is a truly healthy, full life. The more tools you can use to effectively heal, the better!
If you take just one supplement to boost your brain health, make it fish oil! One of the purer brands is Carlson's. It takes several pills to equal one tablespoon of fish oil, so I recommend using the liquid. It is expensive (about $50 per large bottle) but lasts a long time.
Vegetarians: Flax seed oil is helpful but is not as beneficial as fish oil.
Here is an article that provides more info:
JoAnne McFarland O'Rourke