NEW TREATMENTS FOR ADD, ADHD AND OTHER NEUROLOGICAL DISORDERS

ADHD is characterized by poor concentration, distractibility, hyperactivity and impulsiveness. Children and adults with the disorder can't concentrate for long periods of time and are restless or tend to daydream. The disorder typically is treated with stimulant drugs. About 8 percent of U.S. kids have it, boys more than girls and S.A. is not far behind with about the same statistics.

Biofeedback, a therapy in which patients are taught to control physiologic functions such as heart rate, muscle tension, and even their brain waves, is emerging as one of the most effective treatments for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

The therapy uses a computerized biofeedback system that allows patients to see depictions of their brainwaves on a screen. With coaching, they attempt to change the activity of certain types of waves and hence change their own behavior.

A recently done study has shown that ADHD kids who had weekly sessions of biofeedback therapy for a year were able to reduce or eliminate their medication - and maintained the same level of improvement in focus and concentration as when they had been on drug therapy.

"It's like physical therapy for the brain," explains Vincent J. Monastra, PhD, of the FPI Attention Disorders Clinic in Endicott, N.Y.. Monastra is a well respected authority in this field, who has studied biofeedback's effect on ADHD for several years.

"Studies show that about 90% of ADHD kids have an under-arousal in activity in the frontal lobe -- the region of the brain that is involved in sustained attention, focus, concentration, and problem-solving," Monastra says. With biofeedback, the theory goes, ADHD patients can be "taught" to bolster activity in these brain areas.

Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback reports that when used to treat ADHD, up to 80% of patients show "significant improvement in the condition and a marked reduction in medication requirements or cessation of all medication."

"I have treated thousands of ADHD patients with biofeedback since the 1960s and most of them have wound up not needing their medication," says George Von Hilsheimer, PhD, who runs a biofeedback treatment center in Florida that specializes in treating ADHD patients. "You are training the brain to respond, a little at a time. It's like teaching a child how to walk. They get a little more success with each step."

A new form of brainwave biofeedback has recently emerged, it is known as LENS or Low Energy Neurofeedback System. This form of brainwave biofeedback invented by Clinical psychologist and biofeedaback researcher Dr Len Ochs is considered by many to be superior to the older form of brainwave biofeedback mentioned earlier. The advantage of LENS is that treatment times are substantially shorter making it a more affordable option for parents. Another advantage of LENS is that it is an easier method to use with younger children in that no actual effort is required from the child exept to sit still for a few seconds at a time while the feedback is administered.

The LENS , or Low Energy Neurofeedback System, uses a very low power electromagnetic field, like the ones that surround digital watches and wires in the wall, to carry feedback to the person receiving it. The feedback travels down the same wires carrying the brain waves to the amplifier and computer. Although the feedback signal is weak, it produces a measurable change in the brainwaves without conscious effort from the individual receiving the feedback. The LENS software allows the EEG (Brainwave) signals that are recorded at the scalp to control the feedback.

Neurofeedback uses a feedback frequency that is different from, but correlates with, the dominant brainwave frequency. When exposed to this feedback frequency, the EEG (Brainwave) amplitude distribution changes in power. Most of the time the brain waves reduce in power; but at times they also increase in power. In either case the result is a changed brainwave state, and much greater ability for the brain to regulate itself.