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In Focus: How Neurofeedback Can Help Children With Special Needs

In Focus: How Neurofeedback Can Help Children With Special Needs



By Grace C. Diez

Just as the physical body needs a fitness regimen, the brain also needs exercise to sharpen and strengthen it. One of the ways to boost intelligence or memory is to engage in “neurofeedback,” a form of computer-aided brain therapy that can read a person’s brainwaves. It determines what is over or under-stimulated and then creates a training program to regulate these brainwaves. It is sometimes referred to as “yoga for the brain.”

“We like to think of neurofeedback as a brain exercise, where we are specifically exercising the brain’s ability to manage its own states—to be calm enough, to be awake enough, to be focused enough. To do what you want to do is the goal,” says Tomas Collura, BCIAC, clinical director of  Brain Enrichment Center and Founder of Brain Master, a partner of Philippine Neurofeedback Center. BEC Institute in the U.S. is at the forefront of the development of neurofeedback therapy.

Among those who are seen to benefit from neurofeedback are people dealing with so-called unregulated neurotransmitters which cause insomnia, depression, and anxiety. It is also seen as a contributor to peak performance in students, athletes, and musicians. However, what caught the most attention is its benefit for individuals with special needs.

It’s no secret that while it’s a blessing to have children, raising one could pose some challenges since it takes commitment and care in several aspects—be it financial or when it comes to parenting. More so if the child is diagnosed with cognitive performance issues. 

Thankfully, neurofeedback is one of the viable options that parents could engage in to help improve focus and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) symptoms.

How Does It Work?

Under the neurofeedback or brain training program, regular visits are conducted, where the patient or the client’s brain is being trained through manipulation of visuals and sounds.

In a neurofeedback therapy, electroencephalograph (EEG) sensors are attached on the scalp of a person to monitors brain waves.

Usually, a child bearing ADHD symptoms wears the EEG sensors and plays a computer game that he controls using only his brain.

“It’s a process whereby a person is able to exercise its own brainwave activity. This is a very non-invasive process, and it’s extremely powerful. What you’re doing is you’re seated in front of a video screen. It looks to you like you’re in some kind of a video game, and there are electrode sensors that are attached to your scalp,” Collura explains.

“The feedback process is one in which we show you what your brain is doing. And we typically show you in terms of a game, an audio-video display that proceeds when your brain calms down and does not proceed when you’re not calming down, so you are step by step rewarded for going in a common direction,” he furthers.

The EEG sensors pick up brain waves that show when the child is concentrating, which then triggers a reward-like signal. Through this, the child learns how it feels to focus or concentrate. This is seen as something that might provide the child with more control to “come up” with brainwaves that could help lessen ADHD symptoms. 

Is It Effective?

According to the study “EEG neurofeedback treatments in children with ADHD: an updated meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials” by Jean-Arthur Micoulaud-Franchi, Pierre Alexis Geoffroy, Guillaume Fond, Regis Lopez, Stephanie Biouac, and Pierre Philip, the meta-analysis of EEG-neurofeedback in children with ADHD highlights improvement in the inattention dimension of ADHD symptoms.

While there has been no established medical model for treating autism, the neurofeedback is a development welcomed by the medical community.

The Philippine Neurofeedback Center is the first one in the Philippines, located at Room 311, Narra Building, 2276 Chino Roces Extension, Makati. To enroll in the program, one can avail of the holiday promo of 20% on enrollment in all programs after receiving a brain map. For details, call (02) 553 5943 (+63) 9167355014 or log on to Promo ends January 6, 2018.

 Mindworks' head neurotherapist Dr. Cheryl Ramirez and managing director Denise Celdran

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