NEUROFEEDBACK 101: Alternative Treatment Focuses on Brain Wave Patterns to Treat a Variety of Health Issues

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Neurofeedback is a growing alternative and integrative form of treatment for a variety of health issues. To help readers learn more, we asked local nutritionist and wellness practitioner Kay Spears to give us an overview of neurofeedback therapy. Spears offers neurofeedback therapy as a treatment option in her San Antonio practice.

What is neurofeedback? 

Neurofeedback is being used to treat a variety of illnesses — from alcoholism to post-traumatic stress disorder — for which mainstream medicine still hasn’t found adequate long-term solutions. Practitioners describe neurofeedback as a procedure that harnesses brainwave activity for the treatment of various health conditions including PTSD, addiction, autism, ADHD, depression, anxiety, migraine headaches, insomnia and age-related cognitive decline.

It can help improve functions such as concentration, short-term memory, speech, motor skills, sleep, energy level, and emotional balance.

How is neurofeedback training helpful?

Neurofeedback training has one purpose: to change timing and activation patterns in the brain. It does not target any condition but instead slowly guides your brain back to normal ranges, reconnecting the neural pathways that have been disconnected. The result is an improvement in brain regulation, which in turn impacts a variety of symptoms.

How does neurofeedback work?

The concept is fairly simple. A computer monitors your brainwaves while you watch a movie or listen to music. When deviations from normal brainwave activity occur, the computer triggers an audio or visual cue that is received by the brain. With enough repetition of this process, the brain eventually learns to stay in the normal ranges on its own. With the brain functioning normally on its own, symptoms of irregular brain activity will decline. The brain will be able to sustain normal activity independent of the computer by reconnecting functional pathways in the brain.

Is neurofeedback helping your clients?

Yes, and here is one example. A client recently came to me with depression, difficulty sleeping and irritability – this client was on an emotional roller coaster. The client was also having trouble staying focused and paying attention. A proper nutrition program was the first priority, followed by a brain map to identify what areas of the brain were “disconnected.” We designed a treatment protocol that allowed the client to regulate brain waves by watching them on a computer screen and receiving feedback and rewards when optimal brain wave activity was reached. After a few weeks, this client reported feeling more motivated and feeling more confident in dealing with triggers that previously created a panic situation. In addition, sleep patterns improved.

 

Kay Spears, MS, CCN, owns and operates Kay Spears Customized Nutrition, a functional, integrative and clinical nutrition practice in San Antonio. She is the author of Balanced Living: 7 Steps for a Healthy Body and Renewed Spirit. Her practice is located at 16350 Blanco, Ste. 110B. Connect with spears at www.kayspears.com or 210-764-2121.

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