Neurofeedback: Potential Treatment With Promise
Currently accepted psychiatric opinion says that ADHD is the most known, treatable mental health disorder. Treatable, not curable. Supposedly, it’s a disorder that is easily managed with a regimen of drugs, structure, and behavioral modifications.
Oh, there are definitely several offers of cures, some of which sound viable while others sound like mere hocus-pocus. I’m prepared to stick to the methods outlined by the Canadian Mental Health Association, CMHA, and the National Institute of Mental Health, NIMH; they’ve gotten me to this point and I’m still in my own home, not in jail yet, and I’m still solvent… so far.
I’m only human
But that doesn’t mean I won’t look around for more help every now and then. And in the spirit of research, I was recently led, by a tweet, to an article on a potential treatment that does look interesting: Train The Brain: Using Neurofeedback To Treat ADHD by Jon Hamilton.
The article says that studies are being conducted on this potential game changing treatment (note that it’s not being called a cure). Some of these studies say that neurofeedback looks promising, but researchers say these studies have “serious limitations”. So promising isn’t promised.
But independent studies are significant
The fact that competent, accredited researchers are doing studies on this treatment says a lot about its validity. If money has to be approved to cover the cost of research, and if researchers who want to study for the advancement of knowledge have to pitch an idea in order to get that money, I don’t think it’s to anyone’s advantage to put forward a proposal for funding to study something that has little chance of showing success?
Compare this to one of the thousands of “cures” that are conceived, studied and promoted from within a closed company. You know the ones I’m referring to, where treatment details are kept secret until you fork over the money. The explanations of these treatments are long, verbose and couched in power words that are all drama and no function. Their marketing is based on “testimonial” success rather than factual success. “The cure your doctor doesn’t want you to know about!” Really???
Where there’s smoke …
there’s an ADHDer with a book of matches …
But is any treatment study really accurate? We ADHDers are social animals. If you want to hang with us and share some activity, we’re going to pay attention. When it comes to getting our attention, a structured activity that helps us learn how to make decisions about what is and isn’t acceptable, is going to be no different than dedicating yourself to getting us to the hockey rink every morning at 6 am. If you focus on it, so will we. If you believe in it, we will too.
My problem with testimonials is that they only show that there was an improvement, they don’t prove that the “wonder product” was the cause. Studies are better because they tend to limit the influences that might have affected the subjects. But even the act of studying has an influence.
The study itself may be the cause of improvement
Hamilton’s article talks about Buzz author, Katherine Ellison’s experience with Neurofeedback as a treatment for her son. The last thing that Hamilton says about Ellison’s observations on neurofeedback is, “[…] brain training might not be the only reason, […] it might have been because she and her son spent so much time going to all those sessions together, and had pizza together afterward.”
Hey, I love pizza too…
Babcock, K. (2012). Neurofeedback: Potential Treatment With Promise. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 28, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/adhd-man/2012/09/neurofeedback-potential-treatment-with-promise/