Brain Retraining Programs for ADHD

October 26, 2009 by Dr.Yannick Pauli

For many kids with ADHD, the biggest challenge they confront everyday is the inability to pay attention – in the classroom, while doing their homework, sometimes while watching a movie. Of all the human faculties, attention used to be one of the least understood. It’s neither a skill nor a talent; it seems to be an inborn ability that cannot be taught or acquired. However, the latest developments in neuro-imaging and genetics provide us with a wider and more sophisticated understanding of how attention works. Studies show that attention is critical to more practical life skills, like the ability to organize things, make deep connections with others, even developing a conscience. More importantly, researchers have discovered that people can be taught how to pay attention, even if they suffer from ADHD.

Brain retraining programs are designed to correct old habits of thinking that lend itself to distractibility, inattention, and lack of focus. Using imaging technology and foundations in neuroscience, brain retraining programs are an alternative treatment that can target the same deficits ADHD medications seek to correct. Although these technologies have not been around long enough to determine if their benefits will last, kids and adults who have tried them found that brain retraining helps in the here and now. The following brain retraining programs are particularly helpful for children with ADHD, but they come with their own drawbacks and limitations.

Neurofeedback

What it does: Neurofeedback is based on the principle that individuals with ADHD have abnormal brain wave pattern that are either over-stimulated or under-stimulated. Beta waves should appear in tasks that require concentration and focus, but individuals with ADHD usually have large theta wave patterns, which indicate a state of daydream. Neurofeedback can retrain the brain until they emit beta waves, thus eliminating symptoms of inattention and distractibility.

How it works: The practitioner will take the medical history of the child and identify the symptoms that need to be treated. Then electrodes will be strapped on to the child’s head while he or she performs a cognitive task like reading out loud. The brain wave activity will be mapped out so the practitioner can figure out the abnormalities in the pattern – which is the theoretical source of the child’s ADHD symptoms. Through a computer game, the child’s brain will then be retrained. The computer game will only work if the child concentrates and emits beta waves. If there are too many theta waves, the game stops working and will only resume when the child concentrates once more. The positive benefits of neurofeedback training remain for months and years after the last session. After a year of therapy, patients tend to reduce their medication dose by 50% or stop taking them altogether.

Costs and drawbacks: The sessions are only 30 minutes long and completely painless. However, the average cost of a treatment course can range anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000. Neurofeedback practitioners are also only available in certain areas. Finally, neurofeedback can only address the inattention issues of the ADHD spectrum and should be used in combination with other treatments.

Bottom line: If you can afford to pay for the neurofeedback treatments, it seems to be worth a shot, especially if your child cannot concentrate on schoolwork.

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Ten Books on Natural Treatments for ADHD

October 19, 2009 by Dr.Yannick Pauli

Although articles and blogs on the Internet have helped many parents find alternative treatments for ADHD, books are a more comprehensive resource for drug-free ADHD treatments. Here are some titles on ADHD natural treatments that parents read and find helpful. Some of them provide a general overview of why medications are bad and what natural therapies work, while others focus on a specific drug-free treatment. All of them can be purchased on Amazon.Com.

Ritalin-Free Kids: Safe and Effective Homeopathic Medicine for ADD and Other Behavioral and Learning Problems by Robert Ullman ND and Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman ND

This book by naturopathic physicians provides excellent arguments against using Ritalin and stimulants to treat ADHD. Besides that, it offers a concise, easy-to-follow guide on homeopathic treatments for ADHD. Homeopathy is no quick fix for ADHD; in fact, it takes months of trial and error to find the right treatment that will work. Parents who are looking to provide their children with holistic, natural ADHD treatments can familiarize themselves with homeopathic approaches using this book. Buy it here.

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Vaxa Attend Review: An ADHD Homeopathic Remedy

October 12, 2009 by Dr.Yannick Pauli

If you are reading this blog, you’re probably well aware of the serious side effects caused by Ritalin and other ADHD medications. Fortunately, medicating your child is not the only ADHD treatment option out there. Today, there are a number of natural ADHD treatments that are safe, effective, and easy to purchase. Although certain approaches like ADHD diets can demand a lot out of your time and energy, homeopathic remedies can provide the convenience of taking medication without their side effects. One of the leading homeopathic remedies for ADHD is a product called Vaxa Attend, an herbal formulation specifically designed to boost central nervous system functions and the neurochemical deficits that are thought to cause the symptoms of ADHD.

How Attend works

Attend has over 70 active homeopathic ingredients that target the brain’s Reticular Activating System, which is responsible for consciousness, receiving stimuli from the spinal cord, and control of focused attention. Children and adults with ADHD usually have enough stimuli for conscious thought, but not for attention or focus (inattention). If the Reticular Activating System is receives too much stimulation, the person finds it difficult to stay still and control impulses (hyperactivity and impulsivity). Specific homeopathic ingredients in Attend (carbonicum and lithium bromatum) complement the chemical activity of the Reticular Activating system while directing and regulating attention. Aside from that, the herbs in Attend can stimulate neuron growth and reduce brain fatigue from prolonged mental exertion. And unlike ADHD medications, Attend can produce these useful effects without dulling the overall cognitive abilities and functions of the brain, which is a long-term side effect of stimulant drugs.

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Children and Teens with ADHD at Risk for Injury

October 5, 2009 by Dr.Yannick Pauli

Poor academic performance and problems with peers are not the only difficulties faced by kids with attention deficit hyperactive disorder. New research shows that children and teens with ADHD are more likely to get frequent and severe injuries than children without.

The inattention and hyperactivity plagued by children with ADHD place them at higher risk of getting injured while crossing the street, riding a bicycle, or playing in the playground. They are also more likely to injure more than one part of their body, receive concussions and other head injuries, or get hospitalized for accidentally ingesting poison. Although the average child is also likely to receive these injuries at least once, children with ADHD experience these accidents more frequently. Often, the extent of their injuries tends to be more severe and result in temporary disability or admission to intensive care units.

Researchers peg the occurrence of these accidents to the ADHD symptoms at play and other co-morbid disorders that occur with ADHD. For instance, a child with ADHD may engage in high-risk games without thinking of the dangers, or cross the street without looking for oncoming traffic. For ADHD teens that drive, car accidents and other traffic violations are a real concern. In fact, some studies observe that young drivers with ADHD are more likely to have their license suspended due to accidents and traffic violations. Other high-risk behaviors for teens with ADHD are engaging in premarital sex, drug experimentation or abuse, and dropping out of school.

Of course, the more serious accidents tend to occur if the ADHD is left untreated or if the treatment is insufficient. It’s not enough to simply medicate children and teens for ADHD; one must implement a holistic treatment and teach them injury prevention tactics. Experts recommend taking these safety precautions around children and teens with ADHD:

  • Remind children daily to wear their helmets when riding bikes, and to watch out for cars while crossing the street
  • Supervise young children during high-risk activities or settings, like climbing trees or swimming in a lake or pool
  • Hide potentially hazardous household chemicals, equipment, and tools that may be poisonous or used as weapons
  • Enroll your teenagers in a driving safety course before they obtain their driver’s license
  • Make sure your teens limit the volume of music in the car while driving as this is often a primary source of distraction. Also teach them to choose their passengers well, plan their trips ahead of time, and avoid using cellular phones and other portable devices while on the road.
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