Games in Healthcare

Neurofeedback Continues To Prove Itself

Neurofeedback SessionMore parents of children living with attention deficit disorders are resorting to biofeedback instead of medication to improve their behaviour. The technology often makes use of video games to help patients better understand and manage their brain waves.

While neurofeedback is still somewhat controversial, recent studies have proven that it is just as efficient as Ritalin to manage hyperactivity and attention deficit, minus the potential side effects and with longer lasting results.

According to specialists, many psychological disorders are caused by an imbalance in brain waves. The waves move slowly during sleep or relaxation and speed up when you are awake. Kids with ADHD are said to be stuck on slower waves. Read More...

Through neurofeedback games, these kids learn to control their brain waves and witness the results through success in the video game. In one, for example, the correct brain signals propel a spaceship, while the wrong waves call up an ominous shadow which blocks the path ahead.

Behind the success of this technology is the fact that the brain witnesses this instant feedback and remembers the new skills acquired. Mark Steinberg, a psychologist who specializes in neurofeedback therapy in Los Gatos and co-author a book about brain training and ADHD, says the treatment works for 80 percent of patients with ADHD.

One boy, 12-year-old Ryan of San Jose, was having trouble paying attention to his school work. His mother, wanting to stay away from the side effects of drugs like Ritalin (including weight loss and insomnia) opted for brain-training instead.

With Mark Steinberg's aid, Ryan's treatment helped him to remain focused while using his brain waves to pilot ships or race cars. His mother says the therapy succeeded in giving him a "can-do" attitude and improving his school work.

But neurofeedback has the potential to help with more than just attention deficit disorders. Some athletes use it to get in "the zone." The elderly can improve their brain functions, while some executives use it to reach their maximum mental abilities. Other experiments support its use for epilepsy, anxiety and insomnia.