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MIGRAINES, STROKE OR TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY

If you know a migrainer who is well controlled on medications and who doesn’t have major side effects from medications, he or she is not usually a candidate for neurofeedback.  In our experience, they are happy with having migraines under control and they won’t consider changing what they are doing. 

If you know someone still having migraines– of if you know someone struggling with side effects of medications, than they should seriously consider the Center for Brain Training. 

Not only can neurofeedback be very helpful for reducing migraines, but at the center we help patients look at any number of factors and interventions that may be contributing to headaches.  We take a comprehensive approach based on extensive experience and research.  We find that a combination approach – using approaches that typically are not even discussed by MDs with their patients, can be highly effective.  .

There are hundreds of cases that have been reported of migrainers who trained with neurofeedback that reduced the number and intensity of migraines they had.  Often health professionals report that medications have been reduced or at times eliminated. 

A case example.  We worked with a retired chiropractor that had suffered from migraines for 30 years.  Late one day, just as he was getting started with neurofeedback he got a severe migraine.  We happened to talk with him and were able to see work him in to see him right then.  He was in excruciating pain and was considering going to the hospital. He reported that when this level of migraine occurs, there is no way to stop it for many hours or longer. 

We were able to train him for 25 minutes using neurofeedback.  During that time, we made some changes to adjust the training till he noted some improvement in pain.  We then continued with the last training settings.  By the end of 25 minutes he said his pain went from a 10 to a 2 (scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the worst).  After we stopped he reported soon the pain had gone down to a level 1.  He was amazed. He said he could not believe it was possible to stop a headache like that in such a short time – and for it simply to be virtually gone.  He did not re-experience the migraine again in the next week.

This is not an isolated incidence. It is common to be able to stop a severe migraine in progress – with people who say it takes hours to calm down even with medications. 

But that’s not the goal of neurofeedback and training. The goal is to reduce – on an ongoing basis the number and intensity of migraines. Many clinicians around the US have reported that they often see that neurofeedback training does help clients learn to be much more stable and reduce the number of headaches and intensity of headaches.

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.

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.

 

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