EEG (Brainwave or Neurofeedback) Services

 

Brainwave biofeedback (neurofeedback) is a physiological feedback modality that I have been involved with since 1972 both as a trainee (use it for myself) and as a clinician training others. I continue to train myself.
The attention that EEG training has been getting in the media for states of consciousness work and ADD work is exciting. I feel those who promote "Neurofeedback" as the answer to a vast array of problems are being irresponsible and doing a disservice to the field of biofeedback in the long run. Certainly, the training of an individual to focus, to concentrate, to attend, and to "self-regulate" more effectively is well within the purview of this tool. Results come with training and often many sessions are needed.

My orientation towards training individuals diagnosed with Attention Deficit, anxiety disorders, or those simply training to learn mental quieting and self-soothing skills is to train the whole person. I do not blindly hook a person up and leave them to sort out the feedback. I design and tailor a multi-modality feedback package that honors an array of physiological signals that are critical to the integrity and efficacy of successful physiological training. I train children and adults with the BioIntegrator©.

EEG is easily contaminated and distorted by muscle tension in the face, by eye movements, scalp activity and neck and shoulder tension. The muscle tension can fool a clinician into seeing "false beta" or false "theta" activity. If arousal states as measured by the electrodermograph, and muscle tension of the individual are incorporated, the path being trained is not arbitrary nor shortsighted but is much more meaningful.

A much richer context is being ignored in the individual trainee if multiple modalities are not being employed. I think that this distinction is crucial to the work with children and adolescents diagnosed with ADD. Certainly a goal of the training is being able to shift states of attention easily, be less distractible, less impulsive, and to be able to focus, calm oneself, and self-soothe more effectively. My experience dictates that feedback of a system that emphasizes the most meaningful "channel" for a child or an adult is more quickly learned. For some, this channel may be EEG or brainwaves, for others this may be muscle tension of key muscle groups, and for others this may be general "arousal" as a function of sweat activity of the hands. Within a session or from one training session to the next, each modality may offer a different "window" of control that is more meaningful and dynamic to the child, adolescent or adult.

Currently the EEG training protocol of ADD applications is 45 to 50 sessions. With multi modality training progress is often seen much more quickly. Considerable progress is possible in 12 to 20 sessions.
For ADD applications, I do like to have an introductory and "baseline" session typically demanding 90 minutes. In the second session, I like to have the individual participate in the taking of three or four assessment measures along with a paper an pencil questionnaire: The TOVA, the Stroop Color/Word Test, and the Gordon Diagnostic System. Subsequent biofeedback sessions require 45 to 50 minutes. Some individuals also like to train on the Interactive Metronomeä (IM) for a minimum of 15 sessions. Learn more about IM by clicking on that icon.

An additional but related service that I offer only in my San Francisco office is "brain mapping". A cap is placed firmly on the head of the client and 19 channels of EEG are recorded from the scalp. The assessment takes 90 minutes and can be useful for diagnosing ADD, head trauma, seizure activity and other neurological assessments. I contract with a laboratory and a board certified neurologist for doing a QEEG or quantitative analysis. The analysis compares the individual's EEG with a database of similar age and handedness to assess normalcy over the entire cranial surface. From the QEEG, specific EEG training sites and training protocols are suggested. The tool provides a more comprehensive and quantitative baseline and assessment, when that is desirable. It can also be used in post-training to evidence specific neurological shifts.

The consumer needs to be aware that most insurance companies consider EEG biofeedback for a variety of disorders as "unproven" or "experimental" and may not cover the services. A medical referral for biofeedback with a diagnosis of a "physical condition" such as muscle contraction headaches, insomnia, migraine headaches, chronic pain, myositis, myalgia, seizures or other conditions where biofeedback's efficacy is more accepted is likely to gain coverage. Mental/emotional conditions and diagnoses such as anxiety, or phobias will likely push the biofeedback coverage into the insurance domain of psychiatric benefits.
Dr. Bill Barton enjoys working with children, adolescents and adults and has a unique skill at making each of these populations feel comfortable.



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