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What is Biofeedback Therapy for ADHD?

The Drake Institute of Behavioral Medicine, founded in 1980, has been a pioneer of biofeedback therapy for ADHD for the last 3 decades. Our ADHD clinic in Orange County has successfully treated thousands of patients with the use of FDA-approved qEEG brain mapping technology and proven biofeedback techniques.

Biofeedback treatment therapy for ADHD is a non-invasive, non-drug treatment protocol designed to help patients retrain their brains for more optimal functioning to reduce or eliminate symptoms.

During biofeedback treatment, the brain is not stimulated and medications are not administered; in fact, nothing invasive is performed at all. Instead, biofeedback is akin to using a thermometer to take a patient’s temperature and only records how the patient’s brain is working but displays the information back to the patient so the patient can improve one’s brain functioning.

ADHD biofeedback treatment only requires patients to wear a sensor on their heads designed to record and display their current brain functioning. This system provides patients with a window into their current brain activity, allowing them to see, in real-time any dysregulation occurring. Because of biofeedback technology, patients can learn how to better self-regulate and improve brain functioning for better concentration and focus.

Best of all, results from biofeedback therapy are built upon a self-generated, learned response, and with practice, this response becomes hard-wired into the patient’s nervous system, typically resulting in long-term symptom relief for many patients.

And since our treatment protocols are 100% drug-free, patients do not have to worry about experiencing negative side-effects from stimulant ADHD medications.

What is ADHD?

ADHD stands for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and it is characterized by an inability to focus, pay attention, sit still, control impulses, and self-regulate.

ADHD can be caused by multiple factors, including heredity, hypoxia, head injuries, premature birth, and maternal prenatal substance abuse.

However, while there may be multiple possible causes of ADHD, brain dysregulation is still the “root” of the problem. Therefore, the brain is at the center of all our treatment protocols—be it treatment for ADHD, Autism, Stress, General Anxiety, PTSD, or Panic Attacks, we believe the best method for treating patients is by providing them with the tools to self-regulate and to develop improved brain functioning.

Side-Effects of ADHD Drugs

In many cases, ADHD is treated with stimulant medications. And while these drugs can provide temporary symptom relief, they also carry many potential significant side-effects, including:

Additionally, individuals afflicted with ADHD can develop a tolerance for these ADHD medications, meaning higher dosages will be needed overtime to maintain the same level of symptom reduction. And when the dosage of a medication is increased, so does the likelihood of the patient experiencing negative side-effects. By using biofeedback machines and brain mapping technologies, medications for ADHD can be often be avoided entirely.

Finally, it must be noted that ADHD medications do not treat the root cause of the patient’s problems: brain dysregulation. Therefore, once patients discontinue the use of their ADHD medications, it’s very likely that their symptoms will return. 

How Does Biofeedback Training Work?

The human brain weighs about 2 lbs., and yet it uses about half of your body’s blood glucose to create electrochemical energy (electricity) to carry out all its functions, including:

This electrical activity can be recorded in the form of brainwaves by placing non-invasive sensors on the patient’s head. Brainwaves also occur at different frequencies—some of which are slow (Delta and Theta), and others being fast (Beta).

Delta and Theta waves occur when the patient’s brain is under-aroused or functioning at reduced capacity (i.e., sleeping, daydreaming, etc.).

However, beta waves increase when networks of neurons in the brain are fully engaged to process information. These waves need to be dominant to control attention, behavior, emotion, and learning. Therefore, if a patient’s brain is producing too much of the slow brainwaves or too few of the fast brainwaves, then the patient’s brain can be functioning at a reduced capacity.

Through biofeedback techniques, patients can learn to strengthen and improve their brainwave patterns to the more dominant and faster Beta waves required for focus, organization, follow-through, and basic learning functions.

To identify the dysregulated areas of the brain, the Drake Institute uses qEEG brain mapping to record the patient’s current brainwave patterns.

Brain Mapping

At the core of all treatment protocols utilized at the Drake Institute is qEEG brain mapping. With the help of this advanced treatment protocol, our medical professionals in Orange County can obtain a crystal-clear window into how the patient’s brain is functioning and where the dysregulation is occurring.

In the case of ADHD, brain mapping can help identify which area or areas of the brain or under or over-activated or have poor functional connectivity, contributing to the patient’s ADHD symptoms.

The brainwave recordings are processed through the FDA-registered normative data to identify deviations from what’s considered “normal” activity. Once this comparison is made, a custom treatment protocol can be developed on a patient-by-patient basis. This process achieves better results compared to treatment protocols using a “one size fits all” approach, as each of our treatment protocols for our patients are custom-tailored for the patient’s unique dysregulation patterns.

How is Biofeedback Used to Treat ADHD?

Biofeedback treatment for ADHD involves converting a patient’s brainwave patterns into a video game. For example, for a patient suffering from ADHD, their brainwave activity might be displayed as a car driving down a highway. When the patient’s brain shifts into a healthier functioning pattern, the car stays in its proper lane. If the patient can maintain this brainwave pattern, an auditory tone is triggered and repeated every half-second it’s sustained.

This treatment/training improves and stabilizes healthier brainwave patterns, and teaches patients to self-reinforce optimal brain functioning. Put another way, ADHD biofeedback treatment is like physical therapy for the brain, but the therapeutic effect is self-generated by the patient.

Without qEEG brain map guided biofeedback and ADHD treatment, patients and healthcare professionals do not have access to this information, unable to recognize brain misfires resulting in: losing focus, acting impulsively, emotionally overreacting, etc.

With continued treatment, patients undergoing biofeedback treatment for ADHD will learn how to improve sustained focus on non-preferred tasks. Biofeedback can also strengthen the patient’s brain and improve the underlying brain dysregulation, resulting in long-lasting benefits for many patients.

It should be noted that by addressing the cause of the patient’s ADHD symptoms, subsequent improvement typically does not require continued maintenance as ADHD medications require. We follow every patient for 12 months after discharge.

Visit the Drake Institute in Orange County

Our Irvine office is located in the Stonecreek Plaza, 4330 Barranca Parkway, Suite 130 in Orange County and is close to the 405/5 freeways. Our Orange County location is also just a short drive away from the ever-popular Irvine Spectrum Shipping Center.

If you or a loved one is suffering from the effects of ADHD, Autism, Stress, Anxiety, Panic Attacks, or PTSD, please call the Drake Institute to schedule a no-cost screening consultation.

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