Diane Roberts Stoler Ed.D.

The Resilient Brain

Stroke / Aneurysm: Neurofeedback Treatment

Learn about neurofeedback as an effective treatment for stroke / aneurysm

Posted May 28, 2015

In my previous blog, I discussed the 11 effective treatments for those who have suffered a stroke / aneurysm.  In a stroke / aneurysm, the brain has been injured in a specific neural hub of the brain that controls specific functions such as speech, mood, memory, balance, ability to walk, or move a limb.  The various treatments are designed to target the specific disabilities that result from the injury. The main goal is to regain the function, and then hopefully repair the brain.

As a continuation from this previous blog, I want to focus on one stroke / aneurysm treatment option in particular: neurofeedback. I have not only used neurofeedback personally as a treatment after suffering from my own stroke, but I have also been using it with my patients for over 20 years. It is very effective, especially when used alongside other, various treatment options. For stroke / aneurysm in particular, the combination of physical therapy or speech therapy along with neurofeedback that focuses on repairing the brain function and dysregulation produces a more effective and efficient rehabilitation of the disability, such as the ability to walk again. 

In this blog, I would like to discuss the success that I have been having with treating one of my stroke patients. Let's call him Mr. X. I am currently treating him for his left side paralysis, which has made him reliant on a wheelchair. Mr. X has given me full permission to tell his story.

flickr/neurof
Source: flickr/neurof

Background

 Mr. X is a highly intelligent 71 year old male who has been extremely active his entire life.  Three years ago, he suffered a blood clot on the right side of his brain making him unable to move either his left arm or left leg leaving him confined to a wheelchair and in chronic pain in the affected limbs. Over the last three years he has had extensive physical and occupational therapy, neither of which had been successful.

Frequency of Neurofeedback Treatments

A typical neurofeedback treatment is 20-40 sessions, typically with patients having 1-3 sessions per week. This varies from person to person, depending on the severity of their symptoms and their own personal history and background. In a brain injury, such as a stroke / aneurysm, often brain tissues, neural connections and hubs are damaged and need to be repaired in addition to correcting the dysregulation of the brainwaves.   Because of the brain’s neuroplasticity, which is its ability to repair itself, with proper treatment, the brain can repair brain tissue and neural connection and hubs as well as the brainwave dysregulation. Based on my own personal experience and the experiences of my patients, I feel strongly that neurofeedback, in conjunction with other very effective treatment methods, can help those suffering from a brain injury to regain their lives.

I shared the story of my cerebral bleed with Mr. X, and explained the tremendous positive impact neurofeedback had on my recovery. Because my stroke was on my left side, where speech and cognitive ability is located, I had both cognitive deficits and muscle weakness on my right side, which impaired my ability to walk properly. I was told by all of my doctors that I was permanently brain damaged and would never regain my cognitive ability or improve physically. 

After two years of neurofeedback, however, I proved them wrong. The neurofeedback allowed me to return to my practice of being a neuropsychologist and regain the life I had previously.

Insurance Coverage of Neurofeedback

Regarding insurance, some insurance carriers will provide coverage for certified practitioners and/or mental health professionals.  The majority, however, often do not cover these services.  The variety of plans and coverage provided varies dramatically between carriers, so confirmation of whether a plan will cover neurofeedback services is needed. This is one of the many reasons that I am writing blogs such as this one; it is so unfortunate that all insurances do not cover such an effective and drug-free treatment. It is my hope that I can help spread awareness so that neurofeedback will one day be covered by all insurance providers and accessible to all.

Neurofeedback Success

After a little over a year of neurofeedback treatment, Mr X has little or no pain, and he is able to move his leg and arm and his fingers are more relaxed. We are working hard to have him out of his wheelchair for a special family event this June, and I think we can do it! In addition to the neurofeedback treatment with me, Mr. X is also doing muscular biofeedback with another clinician, as well as his ongoing physical rehabilitation at a local rehabilitation hospital.

Sadly, the majority of rehabilitation hospitals in the U.S. do NOT provide neurofeedback as part of their comprehensive treatment program. Clearly, there is still a lot of work to be done to educate the medical community about this effective, cutting-edge treatment.

As a survivor of a stroke / aneurysm, it is my hope and prayer that by the May 2016 Stroke / Aneurysm Awareness Month, neurofeedback will be more widely known and used successfully in conjunction with the wide variety of effective treatments to help you regain your life.  I regained my life with this resource and so have so many of my patients! There is a Way! ®

Dr. Diane

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

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