Epilepsy is best described as a neurological disturbance, manifesting in seizures. This can be a single seizure as well as seizures that occur repeatedly and unprovoked. These seizures vary in types and severity, depending on which area of the brain is affected.
One of the ways neurologists diagnose epilepsy is by observing a misfiring of brain cells. This misfiring occurs during and outside of epileptic seizures.
Sometimes epileptic seizures are limited to childhood, in other cases epilepsy can remain a lifelong condition. The cause of epilepsy can’t always be determined, but it is believed that epileptic seizures result from brain damage and abnormal brain activity. There seems to be a relationship between factors such as brain trauma, cancer, strokes, and drug/alcohol abuse, and the presence of epilepsy.
Neurofeedback for Epilepsy
Can Neurofeedback Help With Epilepsy ?
Epilepsy was one of the very first therapeutic applications of Neurofeedback in 1972, when Barry Sterman eliminated seizures in a 23 year-old female epileptic, who then came off medication and got a driving licence. In this paper, Barry Sterman describes how he accidentally discovered how neurofeedback-trained cats were less susceptible to seizures when exposed to rocket fuel, and went on to replicate this remarkable discovery in monkeys then humans. He also summarises 18 separate peer-reviewed journal studies on Neurofeedback for epilepsy over a 25 year period, covering 174 patients and an average success rate of 66%.
With Neurofeedback, specific symptoms of epilepsy can be targeted; however, every individual is different as to what extent the brain can recover or compensate abnormalities. Since abnormal brain activity, also know as instabilities, are seen as the main cause of epilepsy, the most important goal during Neurofeedback training is stabilising the brain. In other words, ‘to train the brain to control it’s abnormal activity’. Neurofeedback is a treatment option applicable to all types of seizures and helpful in the case of brain damage and brain abnormalities. Other training options can be physical calming, resulting in improved balance and coordination, or enhancing emotional control, which can reduce anxiety. As the research shows, Neurofeedback can be very effective in reducing or eliminating epileptic seizures.
The first step in the process is to have a qEEG assessment which details the specific areas of the brain where training can be most effective. When training commences, the ideal brain wave activity is positively reinforced.
Specifically, training focuses on simultaneously inhibiting slow waves (those that are associated with seizures) while reinforcing mid-wave brain frequencies (those that are associated with preventing seizures). The aim is to train the brain so that it normalises the brain wave activity.
How Neurofeedback Changed Her Life
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EVIDENCE-BASED RESEARCH FOR THE EFFECTIVENESS OF NEUROTHERAPY FOR EPILEPSY
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