February 20, 2018

Neurofeedback for Brain Trauma

Neurofeedback for Brain TraumaMany of our adopted kids come with brain trauma. It is called Reactive Attachment Disorder. The good news is there is a treatment called Neurofeedback for Brain Trauma that can help retrain the brain. Sounds wild doesn’t it?! But I can give you personal testimony on how it worked for 2 of my adopted kids.

Research over the last 15 years has grown leaps and bounds on the brain. Due to advances in technology that helps study the brain, they are now more able to determine what they can do to enhance its healthy activity.

As they have learned, trauma to a child in utero to age 3 can cause brain development issues. Thus the term brain trauma. Doctors are able now to determine what is effected in the brain as well as what was not fully developed. And they can intervene and correct. Hard to wrap that brain around this right? Well let’s start with Wikipedia’s definition of what neurofeedback is and a basic definition of the treatment.

Neurofeedback for Brain Trauma

Neurofeedback is a type of biofeedback that uses electroencephalography or fMRI to provide a signal that can be used by a person to receive feedback about brain activity.

Like other forms of biofeedback, neurofeedback training (NFT) uses monitoring devices to provide moment-to-moment information to an individual on the state of their physiological functioning. The characteristic that distinguishes NFT from other biofeedback is a focus on the central nervous system and the brain. NFT has its foundations in basic and applied neuroscience[citation needed] as well as data-based clinical practice[citation needed]. It takes into account behavioral, cognitive, and subjective aspects as well as brain activity.

During training, sensors are placed on the scalp and then connected to sensitive electronics and computer software that detect, amplify, and record specific brain activity. Resulting information is fed back to the trainee virtually instantaneously with the conceptual understanding that changes in the feedback signal indicate whether or not the trainee’s brain activity is within the designated range Template:Definition needed. Based on this feedback, various principles of learning Template:”principles of learning” = weasel words, and practitioner guidance, changes in brain patterns occur and are associated with positive changes in physical, emotional, and cognitive states. Often the trainee is not consciously aware of the mechanisms by which such changes are accomplished although people routinely acquire a “felt sense” of these positive changes and often are able to access these states outside the feedback session[citation needed].

NFT does not involve either surgery or medication and is neither painful nor embarrassing. When provided by a licensed professional with appropriate training, generally trainees do not experience negative side-effects. Typically trainees find NFT to be an interesting experience. Neurofeedback operates at a brain functional level Template:”brain functional level” needs definitionand transcends the need to classify using existing diagnostic categories[citation needed]. It modulates the brain activity at the level of the neuronal dynamics of excitation and inhibition which underlie the characteristic effects that are reported.[citation needed]. Full story and citations here.

Some of this is a bit confusing, due to all the medical jargon. This video explains neurofeedback for brain trauma more in mom and pop terms.

We have used a neurotherapy clinic ourselves because it was easier. And one of the things our therapist has told us is that there are programs that can be used at home. I have listed a few below.



These can be used (after a consult with a neurotherapist) in conjunction with the clinic therapy, as a standalone therapy, or as brush up therapy for after in clinic therapy is completed but a refresher might be helpful.

This type of therapy used to be considered New Age (even I had antiquated ideas about it), but once I understood that my adopted kiddos brains needed attention, I knew I had to try this. You try most anything to help them! And I have learned since that this type of therapy is not only becoming more accepted in the mainstream, it is becoming prescribed in many of the attachment cases. It also has great benefits for ADHD.

Here is a snippet of one adopted boys story.

Throughout our work together, Billy was not forced to talk about his “issues” or to address his relationship to his adoptive parents. The therapist’s role seemed to be more of a tracker of Billy’s process as he participated in neurofeedback, giving him opportunities to address issues as his own nervous system began to settle and he developed the capacity to self-regulate his arousal states, feelings and situations that would have triggered his alarm reactions in the past.

Within this process, Billy was able to emerge out of his own trauma state holistically. He developed an increasingly connected and warm relationship with his adoptive family who shifted from complete overwhelm to expressions of pride in Billy and his growing accomplishments. Billy’s natural aptitudes began to emerge, especially a creative side that had not been previously expressed. The process of transformation was remarkable for a child that was nearly placed back into the system, could not function at home, school, had no friends, and little hope. During the two years of neurofeedback, Billy’s many psychotropic medications were either eliminated or reduced, although his parents and the psychiatrist seemed fearful to take the leap and completely eliminate the last medication.

There are important lessons for adoptive parents and therapists to learn from neurofeedback. While the first defense in our mental health system is to prescribe medication to manage behaviors, there are effective holistic technologies, such as neurofeedback, to help adopted children become whole. Until the nervous system has shifted from intense and chronic states of over arousal, a child is not available to process verbal approaches to therapy. With neurofeedback, the nervous system is presented with a renormalization process that is holistic, non-threatening and non-invasive. Once the child’s nervous system calms, the ability to self-regulate becomes the new norm and the need for behavioral control through psychotropic medications or intensive interventions are no longer necessary. A child’s growth appears so natural and seamless that parents often forget what their child was like at the beginning of neurofeedback, as if, this was the real child they had all along. Read complete story.

And here is a bit of my story. I took all 5 of my adopted kiddos in for a consult. On the scale, 3 tested high for needing serious intervention due to brain trauma and 2 didn’t. However, one of those 2 had high test anxiety and while a smart boy, struggled in school because of his test taking abilities. The neurotherapist spotted this in his brain (we didn’t even know they could help in this area and did not mention it in giving his history). So he went for a month to treatment, had his brain remapped and the pathways in that area of his brain had improved and his text anxiety lessened considerably. He is now a sophomore in college and doing exceptionally well academically.

Of the 3 who needed serious intervention all received it. One did not chose to complete it (actually due to other issues in their life), 1 completed therapy and 1 is ongoing. The last one’s initial brain mapping showed his brain development age as 4 (he was 11 at the time) and the speed of his brain was so fast (this is not a good thing!) that the therapist was amazed he could sleep at night. He actually didn’t sleep much. After 1 year of therapy with a break for the holidays of 3 weeks, he now maps out at age 9 and brain has slowed down considerably. He has learned breathing techniques for calming himself in stressful situations and I have learned terminology to help activitate areas of the brain when he takes to the fight/flight/freeze part of his brain. As a quirky sidenote, his handwriting improved dramatically during this time.

Neurofeedback for brain trauma is no longer a mysterious, backroom treatment. It is not hypnosis and for some of us with adopted kids, it is a lifeline to starting on the road to healing.


About the author: By

Julie is an awesome parent (along with her husband Matt) to five adopted kiddos and the owner of the Parenting Allies website.

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  1. Interesting! It is absolutely amazing what the human brain is capable of overcoming, not to mention accomplishing.
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