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Concussion and Traumatic Brain Injury

Have you suffered an accident and experienced a brain injury? Are you experiencing a change in your cognitive abilities and your behaviour? Is your family telling you that you have changed?

An estimated 2% of the American population suffers a disability due to a traumatic brain injury (Thornton and Carmody, 2005). Individuals with a traumatic brain injury can suffer from a list of symptoms including, but not limited to, memory problems, inability to concentrate, headaches, fatigue, sleep difficulties, balance problems, increased sensitivity to light and sounds etc.

Treatment for traumatic brain injuries varies from rest and relaxation, in the case of very light injuries, and medication, surgeries or rehabilitation programs, depending on the symptoms of the individual and the severity of the injury. Some individuals may benefit greatly from these options and recovery; however, some continue to experience difficulties long after their injury or despite medical treatments. Furthermore, there are still a vast number of individuals who are told there are no treatment options available for them. A non-invasive, new and innovative treatment alternative is Neurofeedback. Neurofeedback training is based on the principle of operant conditioning. The aim of neurofeedback is to train the patient to modify the electrical activity of the brain to achieve a state identical or as close as possible to the pre-injury state.

BRAIN PATTERNS AND TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY

Because traumatic brain injuries can occur in different parts of the brain, the brain patterns associated with it can take many forms. Research shows that typically there is reduced amplitude of the alpha and beta frequency bands (Thatcher, 2011). Alpha waves are associated with relaxation and beta waves are associated with consciousness and muscle contractions. Changes in alpha and beta are directly responsible for many of the symptoms of traumatic brain injuries. Another facet that is a common EEG indicator of traumatic brain injury is problems in the communication between different areas of the brain. In general, the more severe the brain injury, the more deviant the EEG measures (Thatcher et al., 1998).

Neurofeedback can treat these deficits by regulating either the under or over-arousal and promoting communication between brain areas.

WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT WITH NEUROFEEDBACK?

Neurofeedback targets underlying brain patterns that lead to the symptoms experienced because of your traumatic brain injury. Studies show patients experience improvements in learning and memory deficits (Reddy et al., 2009), attention and response accuracy (Tinius and Tinius, 2000), as well as overall quality of life (Reddy et al., 2009; Walker et al., 2002). A great benefit of Neurofeedback is that it tackles a wide variety of symptoms and leads to an overall improvement of life quality. Another benefit is that it teaches the patients to control their own brain waves, therefore, the improvements continue to persist long after the termination of the treatment.