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Stroke or Traumatic brain injury

For anyone who’s had a stroke or brain injury, relatively little formal rehab is offered once about 2 years post stroke.  Typically, it may be more physical therapy or speech therapy, or even occupational therapy.  But often, the big gains are expected in the first 2 years, and very minor slow gains occur after that. 

Many people continue to improve incrementally after 18 months, but there are few formal rehab programs that make a big difference.   The health profession has accepted the idea that the greatest recovery occurs in the first 18 -24 months.  They don’t even bother offering patients other options. 

A major new intervention for strokes and TBI

If your hurt your knee, you do physical therapy on your knees.

If your hurt your brain, you should do physical therapy directly on your brain.

The technology is now there to do that – and that’s what neurofeedback provides.  It helps the individual in fact exercise the brain directly. Training targets specific parts of the brain, based on the individual profile of each client.

Let’s take speech for example. If there’s a problem with speech, speech therapy is attempting to teach the person to learn how to speak again.

Neurofeedback tends to target training specific areas of the brain that relate to speech (for example, Broca’s or Wernicke’s area).  The goal is to strengthen the area and associated areas that are responsible for speech.  Because of the amount of speech recovery that can occur with neurofeedback, some neuropsychologists feel the brain there is actual rehab occurring in the brain – and that it’s not just dealing with compensating areas. 

A case in point – a therapist presented at a conference that one of her stroke patients started opening her left hand and using it around the 10th training session.  This woman’s hand had been completely clenched and unusable since the stroke 3 years earlier.  Why would neurofeedback impact that?  The training occurred near the motor strip of the brain – which impacts the control of muscles and muscle tone.  Somehow as a result of the training, those motor circuits become reorganized – and in this patient’s case, it helped her significantly improve motor function of the left hand. 

It is not always possible to predict the level of recovery that can be achieved in the case of a stroke or TBI.  That depends on many factors.  But after hundreds of cases by therapists using neurofeedback with stroke patients, it’s clear most people can achieve significantly greater recovery than anyone expected!

Getting a picture of the brain – a brain map is often recommended for stroke and TBI patients.  The Center offers brain maps to help look at what areas of the brain should be targeted for training.  

Symptom improvement ranges from speech to movement to mood regulation to memory to control of behavior.  Headaches are often reduced.  Remember, each of these functions are regulated by the brain. 

One speech therapist who works with stroke and TBI patients added neurofeedback more than a year ago at the first hospital based program that uses it. In an interview, she reported making more progress in improving speech with patients using neurofeedback in one year than in her previous 10 years cumulatively. As she said, it makes a big difference to train the brain directly.

 

NY Neurofeedback and QEEG • Merlyn Hurd Ph.D. • Licensed Psychologist and Certified Neurotherapist
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