Neurofeedback as a Treatment for Parkinson’s Disease

Neurofeedback may help improve symptoms of Parkinson's Disease.

Posted May 04, 2015

April was Parkinson’s Awareness Month, which prompted me to share this story and an effective, yet little-known treatment for Parkinson’s disease (PD)

Parkinson’s disease is a form of brain disorder, with a wide variety of symptoms, ranging from hand tremors (trembling/shaky hands), to mask-like face (an expressionless face with little or no sense of animation).  Neurofeedback is a technology-based learning technique that uses a computer to give information to a person about his or her own brainwave pattern in the form of EEG activity, in order to train the person to modify his or her own brainwaves.  It is not widely known or used, but I have seen first-hand how neurofeedback can help manage the symptoms of PD.

In 2009, I met a couple from the UK at an English tea house in Vancouver, B.C.  They asked what brought me to Canada, and I explained that I was there for the 2nd International Conference on Mild Traumatic Brain Injury to deliver a speech on “grieving the loss of self”.  Upon hearing this, the woman explained that this was how she felt as a result of living with Parkinson’s disease, especially because she had not yet found a treatment that had helped her symptoms.  I asked her if she had tried neurofeedback.  As a neurofeedback practitioner myself, I have seen results using this type of treatment with a wide range of brain disorders.  She was somewhat skeptical, but very interested, and asked if it was possible to help her remotely.  I was able to work with her remotely using neurofeedback and saw great results in the management of her PD symptoms.

Ars Electronica/flickr
Source: Ars Electronica/flickr

Neurofeedback

As I mentioned, this woman was a bit skeptical about neurofeedback. If it was so effective, then why had she never heard of it before, and why had her doctors not recommended it to her?

As far as why neurofeedback is not widely known or used, I have written many blogs about this. In my opinion, it is because the collective group of manufacturers, as an industry, have not marketed themselves correctly.  Eight years ago, I gave a speech at Future Health, which was a conference and forum for the field of neurofeedback.  At that conference I presented an in-depth, step-by-step method of informing the medical, education, rehabilitation, and general public about neurofeedback, how it works, and which areas have proven research.  However, it fell on deaf ears those 8 years ago, and still, unfortunately, today most people have very little knowledge about the efficacy of neurofeedback in treating many conditions, including Parkinson’s disease. 

While the leading medical centers have conducted extensive clinical trials for medication and other methods for Parkinson’s disease, to my knowledge, they have yet to conduct trials exploring the use of neurofeedback in PD.  There are, however, thousands of case studies. Research has been done in the field, through ISNR and AAPB. Despite all of the case studies and research, however, it seems that most neurologists and primary care physicians are still not aware of neurofeedback.

Going back to the woman from the UK with Parkinson’s disease. In her case, after about 40 sessions of neurofeedback, there was significant improvement in her symptoms, including balance, tremor, mask face, and especially sleep.  I do truly believe in an integrative approach, however, and so along with neurofeedback, there were nutritional changes, water therapy, and hypnosis in conjunction with the neurofeedback. I do not believe that changing brain dysregulation alone can work without making some very important life changes, such as eliminating sugar as much as possible from your diet.

I do not claim that I’ve done clinical trials on this matter or that I have treated a vast population of people with Parkinson’s disease with neurofeedback over my 40 years in practice. However, after seeing my patient’s symptoms improve with this treatment, I thought that this was very valuable information to share. I would not say that neurofeedback cures this disease, however, it does help to manage the wide variety of symptoms, allowing a person with Parkinson’s disease to experience an improvement in symptoms, and overall to enjoy a better quality of life.

There is a Way!™

Dr. Diane®

Copyright © 2015 Dr. Diane Roberts Stoler, Ed.D.