Neurofeedback and Concussions: Does Neurofeedback Work for Severe Brain Injuries?

Traumatic brain injuries like concussions usually result from a hard or sudden impact to the head, and the resulting negative symptoms can be difficult to treat.

Most common treatment protocols include rest and medication, but these options by themselves don’t always lead to a long-term reduction of symptoms in some patients, especially when medications are discontinued.

At the Drake Institute, we believe there’s more that can be done.

For the last forty years, the Drake Institute has used neurofeedback therapy to help patients to improve or overcome the symptoms of their mild traumatic brain injury without the use of drugs or invasive procedures.

Neurofeedback therapy is a unique treatment protocol that can provide patients with long-term symptom relief and a better quality of life even after treatment has ended.

In this article, we’ll discuss neurofeedback therapy and how it can help those suffering from a mild traumatic brain injury by leveraging the brain’s natural neuroplasticity to reduce symptoms and improve cognitive functioning.

If you or anyone you know are suffering from the effects of a mild traumatic brain injury, please fill out our contact form or give us a call at 800-700-4233 to learn more about our non-drug treatment options.

What is Neurofeedback?

Neurofeedback is another form of biofeedback and is often referred to as EEG-Biofeedback.

Biofeedback treatment measures and records physiological functions. These functions, like heart rate variability and hand temperature, are indicators of a person’s psychophysiological health. Similarly, neurofeedback measures, records, and displays back to the patient his/her brain activity, enabling the patient to improve brain functioning to a more effective state for improving performance and medical/emotional health.

Once our medical director has identified an area or areas of abnormality in brain functioning, neurofeedback treatment for mild TBI or other conditions can be initiated. During treatment, patients learn to improve their brain’s activity and enhance functions such as memory recall, executive functioning, problem-solving, mood regulation, and more.  

How Does Neurofeedback Work?

Neurofeedback treatments for brain injuries work by displaying the patient’s brainwave activity visually and auditorily to the patient and identifying where there are abnormalities to focus on correcting them. 

To understand how neurofeedback works, you first have to understand the different types of brain waves and when they’re most appropriate: 

  • Delta waves are the slowest frequency waves in the brain and are predominant during deep sleep.
  • Theta waves occur at a slightly faster frequency, but still a slow frequency, when we are daydreaming or drifting off. Excessive theta waves are seen in Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.
  • Alpha waves are the next frequency brainwave and occur predominantly in the posterior region of the brain when we close our eyes and relax or meditate.
  • Beta waves occur at the higher frequency range in the brain. They occur predominantly when we are actively engaged in focusing on external tasks such as homework or job-related activity.

One way Neurofeedback works is by training the brain to use faster brainwaves for enhanced mental clarity, focus, organization, follow-through, and other essential functions.

To do this, our physician creates customized treatment protocols based on the patient’s unique needs and symptoms linked to the brain map.

These protocols enable our patients to leverage the mind-body connection so that they can “shift” their brains into a healthier functioning pattern to alleviate symptoms and improve their quality of life. 

What is a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)?

Traumatic brain injury or TBI is a type of injury to the brain. It can disrupt how the brain functions and lead to cognitive and emotional symptoms. TBI can vary from mild to severe, depending on how and where the head was struck, and the magnitude of the impact to the head. Sometimes milder but frequent blows to the head can cause mild traumatic brain injuries as well.

Mild cases of TBI may result in a brief loss of consciousness or change in one’s mental state, while severe cases could lead to coma or death.

Common Causes of Severe Brain Injuries

Brain injuries are typically caused by sudden or intense impacts to the head. Likewise, if an object punctures the brain, the brain tissue will experience damage. A mild traumatic brain injury may also occur from a whiplash injury such as sustained in a car accident.

There are a variety of ways that a traumatic brain injury may happen, but primary causes include the following events: 

  • Falls
  • Car accidents
  • Sports injuries
  • Intentional violence
  • Explosive blasts 

Specific measures can help prevent the likelihood of a traumatic brain injury; for example, wearing protective headgear, like a helmet or hardhat, adds an extra layer of protection around the head.

Additionally, airbags in vehicles can help prevent damage in the event of a collision.

Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injuries

Depending on the location of the damage, traumatic brain injuries can affect everything from memory to motor skills.

There are a number of physical, sensory, and cognitive symptoms that could result from a brain injury.

If you or someone you know has experienced a head injury, keep an eye out for symptoms of brain trauma, as identifying these symptoms early can help prevent more serious complications later on.  

Here is what to look out for: 

Physical Symptoms: 

  • Headache
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Fatigue/drowsiness
  • Speech problems/slurring words
  • Dizziness
  • Seizures
  • Pupil dilation               

Sensory Symptoms: 

  • Blurred vision
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Bad taste in the mouth
  • Changes in ability to smell or sensing strange smells without a source

Cognitive Symptoms

  • Confusion
  • Memory and concentration problems
  • Mood changes
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Excessive sleeping

Treating Traumatic Brain Injuries at The Drake Institute

Treating traumatic brain injury is notoriously tricky due to the complicated nature of the brain.

However, Neurofeedback has proven to be effective for post-concussion syndrome, with improvements in patients’ symptoms, including depression.

The Drake Institute uses non-invasive, non-drug treatments to help patients recover from mild traumatic brain injuries.

Through brain map guided neurofeedback and neuromodulation, our treatments target the brain dysregulation and work with patients to improve their symptoms from a traumatic brain injury

Here’s how we do it.

Brain Mapping

Brain mapping is the first step. 

To begin, sensors are placed around the patient’s scalp and these sensors provide a reading of brainwave activity. Once we’ve processed a map of the patient’s brain activity, we then compare our patient’s brainwave activity to the FDA-registered reference normative database. This comparison determines where any dysregulation is occurring linked to symptoms.

Once the areas of dysregulation have been identified, clinical protocols are developed by our medical director and we can then begin neurofeedback training.


Neurofeedback training/treatment, by targeting brain dysregulation, helps patients leverage the mind-body connection to “shift” their brain into a healthier functioning pattern.

Our neurofeedback treatment protocols are specifically designed for each patient’s individual needs. For example, a patient using neurofeedback for a concussion will have a custom-tailored treatment protocol based on their specific abnormal brain regions linked to symptoms.

Regardless of the symptoms being treated, Drake’s staff work closely with patients to help them improve their traumatic brain injury throughout their sessions.


In cases of TBI and other disorders, neuromodulation may also help. During this non-invasive treatment option, NeuroField technology offers gentle stimulation to guide brainwave patterns to healthier, more desirable activity to reduce symptoms.

By helping patients experience “healthier, more appropriately functional” brainwave patterns, the patient’s brain can learn to emulate these patterns, and eventually, produce these patterns without the assistance of external stimuli.

When combined with neurofeedback, neuromodulation has shown to be clinically highly effective.  

How Does Neurofeedback Therapy Compare to Drug-Based Treatments?

Traumatic brain injury and other severe conditions are challenging to treat. As with many health issues, medication is often the first choice for patients. However, drug-based treatments are not always effective and carry the risks of unwanted side effects.

Selecting the proper medication sometimes can involve the frustrations of trial and error of different drugs.  Additionally, depending on the disorder, once a patient stops taking the medication, symptoms of the disorder may resurface.

Neurofeedback, on the other hand, tends to provide long-lasting improvement.

Is Neurofeedback Safe?

Neurofeedback therapy is a safe and effective treatment for a variety of disorders, including mild traumatic brain injury.

The Drake Institute takes the utmost care in developing proper treatment protocols for each patient. We have utilized neurofeedback technology for over 40 years in creating effective treatment protocols for our patients.

We help patients achieve symptom relief, minimizing the need for prescription medications.

Contact The Drake Institute Today!

For long-term improvement without medications or invasive procedures, contact the Drake Institute today by calling 800-700-4233 or fill out the free consultation form below.


Contact Us Today

To get the help you or a loved one needs, call now to schedule your no-cost screening consultation.

dr david velkoff headshot

“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 Neurophysical Medicine and received his initial training in biofeedback/neurofeedback in Neurophysical 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 Neurophysical 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 Neurophysical Medicine to CNN, National Geographic Channel, Discovery Channel, Univision, and PBS.”

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