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Biofeedback Aids Kids With ADHD

Therapy holds hope for improvement without medication

FRIDAY, Dec. 20, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- Children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) benefit from biofeedback therapy.

That's the claim of a study in the December issue of Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback.

The study found that a year of medication and counseling helped relieve ADHD symptoms in a group of children, but only the children who also received biofeedback therapy maintained that improvement after going off medication.

The study, by researchers at the FPI Attention Disorders Clinic, included 100 children aged 6 to 19 years old. They were followed through a year of ADHD treatment that included special parenting classes, treatment with the medicine Ritalin and school consultation.

About half the children also received EEG biofeedback therapy. It uses an electroencephalograph to measure different kinds of brain waves (electrical activity) produced in certain brain areas.

Previous research indicates that reducing slow (low frequency) brainwaves and boosting the number of fast (high frequency) brainwaves can reduce some ADHD symptoms.

The children in this study who received EEG biofeedback therapy were rewarded for their attempts to change slower brainwaves to faster brain waves after they were shown how specific behaviors affected their brainwave patterns.

The study found that the year's worth of treatment with the drug Ritalin improved attention deficit and impulse control in most of the children. That improvement was independent of the parental counseling and biofeedback therapy.

When the children stopped taking the medicine, their ADHD symptoms returned. Not so for those children who had received biofeedback therapy. The study found that biofeedback therapy was the only one of the treatments that greatly reduced the level of slow brainwaves in the children.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health has more about ADHD.

SOURCE: Health Behaviour News Service, news release, Dec. 14, 2002
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