Posts tagged ‘tourettes syndrome’

The Best Option for Testing for and/or Treating ADHD

About this time of the school year, for the child with Attention Deficit Disorder, very significant problems are really starting to raise their head.  If the problems of inattention, difficulty with homework, poor behavior, and/or hyperactivity (there are several forms of this disorder) are occurring, you are probably wondering what you can do to fix the problem.  There are, today, four basic treatment options with varying degrees of success. Let’s take a look at them:

Schools are very rarely equipped to properly diagnose this disorder.  The proper thing to do, therefore, is to have your child tested by an outside, independent professional.  There are two types of testing: those based solely on symptoms, observed or reported (the most common form of testing), and those based on testing the actual source of the problems (a specific brain function) through EEG-analysis. As there are other problems which can cause ADD-like symptoms, it is essential to test right at the source of the problem, the brain (EEG-analysis).

This brings us to the consideration of the options available for treating this disorder, if it is found to be present:

Counseling or Therapy:  This is designed to help children and their families feel better about, and cope with the problems the disorder brings, rather than correcting the disorder.  As the underlying problem is neurological, and not emotional, this approach is not effective in correcting the disorder.

Tutoring:  While the cumulative effects of difficulty in learning can cause significant gaps in the knowledge base required for a child to progress satisfactorily, filling in those gaps (tutoring), will not do anything for the ongoing problem ADHD causes with learning.  Furthermore, until the ADHD is corrected, the tutoring efforts will be significantly hampered by the disorder.

Medication/Drugs:  Medication/Drugs are fairly successful in suppressing symptoms while the medication is in the blood stream.  However, once the chemicals are out of the blood stream there is no longer any benefit.  If medication is missed accidentally, or intentionally (adolescent compliance is often a problem because of the stigma attached to the medication, or the unwanted side effects), or when it wears off, the problems return in full force.  Adolescents’ not taking their medication is a significant problem; having the ADHD problems returning and combining with the hormonal and other challenges of adolescence can be a very bad combination. Furthermore, since the drugs are only effective while in the blood stream, and the underlying cause is never corrected, the medications must be taken for life.

The potential of harmful side effects as a result of the medications is a major problem. These side effects range from weight loss, over-stimulation of the central nervous system, dizziness, sleep disorders, loss of appetite, tremors, tics, and Tourette’s syndrome. There may be one or a combination of these side effects.  These are serious side effects in any person; when one considers the vulnerability of children, the dangers are even more worrisome.

Neurofeedback:  Of the four options, neurofeedback is the only method that corrects the underlying cause of the disorder in a one-time treatment, rather than merely managing the symptoms or teaching the child how best to live with it (counseling-therapy); filling in the gaps in learning caused by the problem without actually correcting the ongoing disorder (tutoring); or merely suppressing the symptoms through a lifelong, often side-effect laden administration of pharmaceuticals (medication).  Neurofeedback is a type of biofeedback that utilizes EEG to provide information on brain signaling activity and allows for re-training that lasts for life.  By utilizing neurofeedback, a child can re-teach the sensory and/or impulse control functions of the brain, including processing, to ameliorate the disorder.  Neurofeedback is a painless and effective process, where there are no side effects, and no maintenance or re-training is needed after treatment is completed.  It allows for focus, task completion, organization, impulsivity,  hyperactivity and a variety of other symptoms to come within normal, age appropriate limits.

In conclusion, neurological testing of the underlying chemical (brain) imbalance is the only objective method to determine if the symptoms are actually caused by ADHD (this is the type of testing done in neurofeedback).  Furthermore, neurofeedback is the best option for treating the disorder, as it actually corrects the problem in a one-time treatment, rather than trying to feel comfortable with a correctable problem, constantly playing catch-up, trying to fill in gaps that continue to occur, or life-long medication with the great possibility of significant side effects.

February 4, 2013 at 5:58 am Leave a comment

Two Distinctly Different Paths for Treatment of ADHD: Neurofeedback or Medication

Neurofeedback (EEG-Biofeedback) and medication are the two most common forms of treatment fo ADHD (ADD).  Both are successful in treating these disorders in a large majority of cases.  There are, however, significant differences in the ways these treatments work, the potential side effects of their use, the length of treatment necessary, and importantly, the lessons learned by the child of how to correct personal problems. 

Most of the most commonly prescribed medications for ADHD are dervied from some form of stimulant or antidepressant.  Most of these medications carry the FDA’s “Black Box Warning” Labels, and should be used with caution.  These warnings refer to the possibility of serious cardiovascular side effets, as well as the possible suppression of children’s growth, and heightened risk for psychosis, bi-polar illness, and aggression. 

In addition to these problems, this class of medications is also associated with the following serious potential side effects: weight loss in children, overstimulation of the central nervous system, dizziness, difficulty sleeping, tremors, headaches, and tics or Tourettes Syndrome.

Now, let us take a look at how these different treatments work.  The medications contain artifical chemicals, which increase neurotransmitter levels in the brain, allowing the brain to function better, thus alleviating the condition.  As these chemicals are artificial, and foreign to the body, they may cause unfavorable reactions in the brain, and therefore brings about the aforementioned negative side effects.

Neurofeedback trains the brain to funciton faster through a highly specialized type of exercise.  As the brain learns to function faster, it naturally increases its production of neurotransmitters, and the brain functions better, thus treating the condition.  The end result is the same in both forms of treatment… with one very big difference.  As neurofeedback does not introduce anything unnatural into the brain, and rather trains the brain to function better through its own natural mechanisms (i.e. it learns or teaches itself to improve), it produces none of these side effects.  As vulnerable as children are, the last thing we want to do is expose them to these unnecessary dangers. 

Finally, length of treatment is another big difference.  Medication is a lifetime process, as it is only effective while it is in the bloodstream.  Therefore, no amount of medication will ever produce a lasting effect.  The medication must be continually taken to treat the condition, with once again, the continuing potential for these serious side effects and health dangers.  Neurofeedback, on the other hand, is a “one time” treatment for this disorder.  It is a far simpler solution, once treatment is complete, no further sessions are necessary.

Finally, there is a subtle lesson being taught to the child about how to deal with life’s problems. It is a lesson that will assume major importance as the child grows older.  The lesson is “Do I take a substance to be smarter, get my work done more quickly, and be more popular- getting along better with others… or do I improve my capacities, performance, and relationships with others through working on and improving myself?”  The abuse of these medications is already growing steadily in schools.  As the child grows older (and, unfortunately, this is happening at a younger and younger age) they will be presented with increasingly more dangerous substances to deal with essentially (if not exactly) the same questions.  In many ways, the stage is already being set by the way in which parents choose for their child to deal with their ADHD.

Once neurofeedback treatment is completed, no further treatment is necessary, and the child learns a healthy lesson about the right way to strengthen their abilities.  With neurofeedback, there are no side effects, the treatment is a one-time process, and the child avoids learning a potentially dangerous lesson, and instead learns a healthy one of self-reliance and self-improvement.  Neurofeedback is an effective, drug free, painless procedure in which the child learns to retain the attention mechanisms of their brain , alleviating the condition. 

If you, or someone you know, is interested in learning more about Neurofeedback or would like to schedule an evaluation, please contact Dr. Ferrari at Alta Neuro-Imaging (Placentia, CA).

December 9, 2011 at 12:20 am Leave a comment


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