Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Treating brain disorders without drugs

It was a fairly popular treatment for brain injuries in the West in the 1960s and it came to India only almost fifty years later.
The origin of this treatment goes back almost to ninety years when a German psychiatrist connected electrodes to a patient’s scalp and tries to measure the electrical waves.
The instrument used to measure the electric waves was a galvanometer. To him goes the credit of recording the first ever human EEG. The initial results of his experiment led the psychiatrist to carry out more research in the years to follow on electroencephalogram (EEGs).
The psychiatrist was Hans Berger (1873-1941) and he had carried out his experiment on electrodes on 1924. Subsequently, he published a series of papers on EEG between 1929 and 1934 and even today our knowledge on the middle frequencies is based on Berger and his research. He also invented the electroencephalogram.
Today, much of the facts that we know of middle frequencies in EEG is ascribed to Berger. His discoveries on EEG were first confirmed by British scientists Edgar Douglas Adrian and B. H. C. Matthews in 1934 and they also published some of his material in the magazine Brain.         
Many decades later, Joe Kamiya came up with what is today called neurofeedback therapy. He based this on his experiments on alpha brain wave that he had been conducting in the 1960s.
The results of these experiments were first published in Psychology Today in 1968.
Since then, neurofeedback became popular in the West and neurofeedback training (NFT) became a part of treating brain disorders. It was only in 2006 that this method of treatment came to India, thanks to NIMHANS.  
In NFT, an individual is made to modify the amplitude, frequency or coherence of the electrical activity. The patient is then taught to influence the electrical activity of their brain. Thus, an individual is helped to normalise the abnormal EEG frequencies.
The treatment has benefitted patients with traumatic brain injuries (mainly caused by accidents) and helped them regulate brain activity.
The treatment makes use of both EEG and o homoencephalography (HEG) to illustrate brain activity and teach self-regulation. EEG neurofeedback uses sensors that are placed on the scalp to measure brain waves, while HEG neurofeedback uses infrared (IR) sensors to measure brain blood flow. This leads to a signal which can be used for self regulation.
Now, neurofeedback is taking a second look at deep states. Alpha-theta training has been used in the treatment of alcoholism and anxiety.
NIMHANS now conducts regular neurofeedback sessions to treat a wide array of brain disorders. It has even used this system for treating patients who have suffered road accidents and have brain injuries.  
NIMAHS is also using neurofeedback in patients suffering from stroke and autistic children suffering from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
One of the major advantages of this system is that the patient does not have to take any medicines, which generally have side effects.  It can be used for Irritable Bowel Syndrome(IBS), asthma, constipation, drug addiction, headaches, Arthritis, attention deficit disorder/ hyperactivity disorder, non-cardiac chest pain, hypertension, insomnia,  low back pain, knee pain and even breathing problems, urinary elimination disorders.
Though NIMHANS says the system has worked successfully, other neurologists say deep brain stimulation in which a pacemaker is implanted in a brain, is one of the most advanced treatments. It has been found to be more effective in treating Parkinson's disease and it also substantially reduces the need for drugs.

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