People with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) usually suffer from an underactivation of the brain. To understand this underactivation, we like to compare the brain to a car that is stuck in first gear. No matter how much the driver steps on the gas pedal the car will never be able to go beyond a certain speed – no matter how capable or powerful its engine.
One way that this underactivation can be identified is through EEG analysis. EEG (electroencephalographic) technology enables us to record and understand brainwaves. For example, slow brainwaves are associated with “unfocused” or “spacey” behaviors. In contrast, fast brainwaves are normally produced when a person focuses and concentrates. People with ADD or ADHD often show an excess of slow brainwaves or insufficient fast brainwaves, or both. Typically, this results in impulsive and hyperactive behavior.
Another crucial effect is an inability to concentrate and process information normally regardless of intelligence level. In fact, the I.Q. of persons with ADD/ADHD is often above average, but an underactivation in the brain blocks this potential. This gap between potential and actual performance throughout the lives of ADD/ADHD sufferers often leads to low self-esteem, psychological/emotional problems and underachievement at school and work.
Doctors prescribe drugs for ADD/ADHD because they are presumed to stimulate the brain; in essence, they temporarily “rev up” brain functioning. On such stimulants, patients are temporarily able to focus, stay on task and filter out distractions. Unfortunately, once the medicine leaves the person’s system, so do the positive effects. Because many do not outgrow ADD/ADHD, one can become dependent on medication for improved functioning, indefinitely. And many times a tolerance builds up thus requiring higher doses.
An estimated 10% of the population is afflicted with ADD/ADHD. If undiagnosed and untreated, people with ADD/ADHD are at much higher risk for developing substance abuse disorders, psychiatric dysfunction and antisocial behavior.
The most common possible causes include heredity, fetal distress with lack of oxygen to the fetus during childbirth, premature birth, pre-natal exposure to alcohol and/or drugs, head injuries, high fevers (over 105 degrees) for longer than 24 hours, brain infections and possibly chronic/severe ear infections at early ages.
EEG Neurofeedback is a safe, non-invasive, painless procedure during which sensors called electrodes are placed on the surface of the patient’s head. These sensors record and give the patient information about his/her brain activation level. It is important to understand that the instruments used in this process serve only as a source of information. They read and record the activity in the brain, much like a thermometer would tell one’s temperature. The information is displayed on a computer screen, together with sounds which change according to the brain’s activity levels. Therefore, the patient can read, understand and influence his or her brainwave activity. Once the patient learns to access and activate the brain more effectively, symptoms of the disorder begin to dissipate.
A patient with a primary diagnosis of ADD/ADHD is a candidate. If there is severe family dysfunction, family dynamics will need to be improved for the treatment to be effective. We provide family counseling in these cases.
EEG Neurofeedback is it highly effective treatment, especially in conjunction with supporting care (i.e. parent counseling, educational intervention, etc.). The program brings substantial improvement for many patients who are able to strengthen brain functioning, and therefore learn more effectively; these patients can then work up to their true potential at school or at the office – higher test scores and better, job performance often follow. In addition, the treatment also curbs impulsive behavior and reduces hyperactivity. As the patients behavior becomes more socially appropriate, his/ her social skills and life improve accordingly; with these encouraging changes, self-esteem and confidence significantly increase. Many patients also report relief from secondary symptoms, such its headaches, bed-wetting, teeth grinding and sleeping difficulties.
We have been able to help the majority of our patient population. When patients selected for treatment meet the above criteria, the majority of those who complete treatment have a reduction or resolution of ADD/ADHD symptoms and no longer require medication.
Most patients treated with EEG Neurofeedback experience mild to profound change. Because we are a medical facility and provide more services than most clinicians or researchers, we treat a greater range of patients. We handle some very difficult cases. While some of the most resistant cases we accept might have a reduced chance for improvement, we feel the effort is clearly warranted.
Some of the drugs which doctors prescribe for ADD/ADHD have not been adequately studied and the safety and long-term effects of some of these drugs are unknown. Some physicians prescribe these medications liberally, giving high doses to severe ADD/ADHD patients. With this in mind, it is necessary to take a stand for those tough cases – despite that doing so may lower our success rates. These patients have little other choice for safe and effective treatment. Our commitment is to medical care – not statistics.
This commitment makes our work more difficult, and also more rewarding. After we have completed the initial evaluation, we will discuss your probability for success with you. If at some point during treatment we feel that prognosis has changed, one of the directors will meet with you to discuss your case and decide how to proceed. This, however, has not happened often in our experience with thousands of ADD/ADHD patients. We do not want to provide hope where there is none. We also do not want to deny hope where we feel it might be called for, especially since our treatment has worked for so many who have failed to find hope elsewhere. As a medical facility, with the option of choosing drug therapy, our years of scientific and clinical knowledge lead us to choose this treatment over the other choices.
Scientists have been researching EEG Neurofeedback for the last thirty years. Treatment applications now include epilepsy, ADD/ADHD, Autism, sleep disorders, minor closed-head injuries, alcohol and/or chemical dependency and endogenous depression and anxiety disorders.
Our goal is symptom resolution and a fully empowered patient. Some patients may require additional care in the future but mostly our former patients function with no additional therapy needed.
No. There is no physical pain involved. It is non-invasive. Tiny electrodes are placed on the surface of the head and ear lobes with a gel.
The first step is to call the Drake Institute. If, after a brief telephone screening we determine we can help you an appointment for a consultation/orientation will be made to further answer the question of can we help you. If yes, then an appointment for an evaluation/screening and the initial appointment will be made. You should be ready to start care at that time, unless of course after all the information we have gathered we find we can’t help you. The eval/screen is mostly information about how to best start care and construct the full Treatment plan.
The evaluation process consists of an intensive assessment that lasts approximately 2 1/2 hours. Recommendations will be made by the clinical evaluator. Your program will then commence.
Our treatment plans require a minimum of 32 one hour sessions Autistic patients require at least 40 sessions. The specific number of sessions will be discussed at the time of the evaluation. The frequency of sessions begins with four times the first week, then 3 times a week for 4 weeks, and then is usually reduced to twice a week. The more frequent the treatment sessions are at the beginning, the more potent each treatment is in enabling the brain to develop healthier patterns. Once your treatment is complete, most patients will not have to come back for further sessions. The brain will have learned to work efficiently by itself and will continue to be stimulated by every day interactions.
Yes. We treat anyone over the age of 5. In fact, some of our patients did not know that they suffered from ADD/ADHD until adulthood and have found great relief in finally understanding and healing a weakened attentional system that made work or home life much more difficult than it needed to be
Interview with Dr. David Velkoff
Interview with Dr. David Velkoff
Spanish News Feature
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“David F. Velkoff, M.D., our Medical Director and co-founder, supervises all evaluation procedures and treatment programs. He is recognized as a physician pioneer in using biofeedback, qEEG brain mapping, neurofeedback, and neuromodulation in the treatment of ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and stress related illnesses including anxiety, depression, insomnia, and high blood pressure. Dr. David Velkoff earned his Master’s degree in Psychology from the California State University at Los Angeles in 1975, and his Doctor of Medicine degree from Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta in 1976. This was followed by Dr. Velkoff completing his internship in Obstetrics and Gynecology with an elective in Neurology at the University of California Medical Center in Irvine. He then shifted his specialty to Behavioral Medicine and received his initial training in biofeedback/neurofeedback in Behavioral Medicine from the leading doctors in the world in biofeedback at the renown Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas. In 1980, he co-founded the Drake Institute of Behavioral Medicine. Seeking to better understand the link between illness and the mind, Dr. Velkoff served as the clinical director of an international research study on psychoneuroimmunology with the UCLA School of Medicine, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, and the Pasteur Institute in Paris. This was a follow-up study to an earlier clinical collaborative effort with UCLA School of Medicine demonstrating how the Drake Institute's stress treatment resulted in improved immune functioning of natural killer cell activity. Dr. Velkoff served as one of the founding associate editors of the scientific publication, Journal of Neurotherapy. He has been an invited guest lecturer at Los Angeles Children's Hospital, UCLA, Cedars Sinai Medical Center-Thalians Mental Health Center, St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, California, and CHADD. He has been a medical consultant in Behavioral Medicine to CNN, National Geographic Channel, Discovery Channel, Univision, and PBS.”