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stroke recovery – Synergy Neurofeedback
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stroke recovery Tag

Neuroplasticity and Neurofeedback

For many years, neuroscience was a heavily deterministic field. The brain you were born with was thought to be the brain you were stuck with for life. With the emergence of the concept of neuroplasticity, it is now understood that this is not black and white. Brains can grow and transform, adapt to new circumstances, and even rebuild itself after an accident.

Neuroplasticity is defined as the capacity of the brain to develop and change throughout life. The prefix neuro- means nerve cell, or neuron, and -plastic refers to our brain’s capacity to reorganize itself. Neuroplasticity is the idea that the brain is malleable in terms of structure, allowing opportunities for new growth and connections. As structure changes, so does function.

Neurofeedback News and Research April 2019

Brazilian scientists develop neurofeedback technique capable of modifying brain connections in record time

neurofeedbackScientists have found that under one hour of neurofeedback training promotes stronger connections between the sensory and motor areas of the brain, which is a new record in terms of time. So says a new study conducted at D’Or Institute for Research and Education (IDOR), published April 15th in Neuroimage. NeuroImage is a peer-reviewed scientific journal covering research on neuroimaging, including functional neuroimaging and functional human brain mapping.

“We knew that the brain has an amazing ability to adapt itself, but we were not sure that we could observe these changes so quickly. Understanding of how we can impact on brain wiring and functioning is the key to treat neurological disorders”, says Theo Marins, a biomedical scientist from IDOR and the Ph.D. responsible for the study.

Neurofeedback- An Evidence-Based Scientific Approach to Mental Health

Neurofeedback is a non-invasive, evidence- based psychotherapy that allows patients to train their own brains to improve various functions. Evidence- based psychotherapy or medicine is defined by the NIH (National Institute of Health) as follows:

“Evidence based medicine (EBM) is the conscientious, explicit, judicious and reasonable use of modern, best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients. EBM integrates clinical experience and patient values with the best available research information.” (1)

An EEG readout used for neurofeedback Neurofeedback uses qEEG technology (brain mapping) to measure a patient’s brain waves, and then engages them in dynamic brain training to normalize levels, correlating to improvements in function in that area. Research on wave signatures of individual neurological disorders such as ADD or traumatic brain injury (TBI) has helped specialists identify with great accuracy patterns of brain dysfunction, and researchers have used this much larger pool of data to develop specific neurofeedback protocols to benefit or reverse each individual neurological condition.

During a neurofeedback session, patients play simple games in which they are rewarded for changes in their own brain wave patterns through visual feedback. Adjusting brain wave patterns to optimal levels is a skill the patient learns intuitively, and success allows for progress in the game. Eventually patients develop much greater internal control of their psycho-emotional or behavioral issues, and neurological disorders can be corrected or at least greatly improved.

Neurofeedback for Cognitive Impairment and Dementia

Neurofeedback for cognitive decline and dementiaCognitive decline and dementia are some of the more serious problems facing an aging population today. Dementia increases in prevalence with age, with a doubling of prevalence every 5 years [1]. It is a progressive disease process affecting families, carers, health and social care providers. Cognitive impairment is an important part of the diagnostic criteria for dementia. The most commonly used screening instrument for cognitive impairment is the MiniMental State Examination (MMSE) [2].

Neurofeedback functions to change EEG brain waves over time. As scientists continue to isolate the brain structures and processes involved with cognitive decline and dementia, neurofeedback specialists have developed protocols to assist with these disorders.

Neurofeedback and Post- Stroke Recovery

neurofeedback for stroke recoveryA stroke is the sudden death of brain cells in a localized area due to inadequate blood flow. Depending on the region of the brain affected, a stroke may cause paralysis, speech impairment, loss of memory and reasoning ability, coma, or death. A stroke also is sometimes called a brain attack or a cerebrovascular accident (CVA).1

Stroke remains a leading cause of long-term disability in the United States at a cost of $38 billion per year. About 650,000 persons survive a new stroke yearly and 7 million Americans live with the complications of stroke.2

Conventional therapy has traditionally involved physical, occupational, and speech therapy to adress continuing issues such as paralysis, weakness, trouble with thinking, awareness, attention, learning, judgment, and memory, and problems understanding or forming speech.

Once you have had one stroke, there is a greatly increased risk for recurrence, especially in the time directly following the event. The treatment of underlying conditions  including heart disease, high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, high cholesterol, and diabetes is essential to prevent another stroke. Changes in diet and lifestyle are important to adress these issues, in addition to the other therapies provided.

As this article is being updated, we are facing a world wide pandemic. In December of 2019 a novel coronavirus emerged in Wuhan, China. The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) or COVID-19 as it is now known, has quickly spread worldwide. Emerging evidence suggests for a potential increased risk for cerebrovascular diseases in patients with COVID-19.3

Neurofeedback as an Adjunct Therapy in Stroke Recovery

Neurofeedback is non-invasive, completely safe and side- effect free therapy that shows great promise as an adjuct therapy in the treatment of stroke.