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Needless Suffering: Neurofeedback Offers Hope for Concussion

There has been a lot of discussion in the media this past month regarding the world of football since PBS aired its investigative documentary “A League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis.”  http://to.pbs.org/1c8cP3W. A similar investigative report was on Frontline in 2011 called “Football High” that dealt with football injuries in teens. 

You can keep tabs on the running total of concussions this NFL season at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/concussion-watch/, where they report a total of 53 players being sidelined so far this year with concussion. The 2011 season saw a total of 171 concussions.  Wide receivers and cornerbacks seem to get them the most often. Linebackers, defensive ends, running backs. guards, and safeties are the second most frequent position, but no position is immune.  

It’s tough for a neurofeedback practitioner to watch the stories of those who suffered concussion (and those who left behind young families) and not want to speak out about the efficacy and availability of our modality that can help with many of the symptoms of concussion.  While neurofeedback isn’t a panacea that can patch up brains and let them take a continued beating, it can help with the often significant cognitive and emotional symptoms that can arise with concussion. It is best implemented as part of a comprehensive rest and recovery program along with your physician’s treatment.

Symptoms addressed

This fall in our office, we’ve seeing local young athletes with concussions from football, cheerleading, and field hockey. The most common symptoms we work with are attention, short term memory, anxiety, negative mood, irritability, headaches, reading difficulties, and sleep. Solid science and research support results in these areas. 

From our unique perspective looking at the brain as a complex and delicate array of electrophysiology, we help the brain re-establish it’s connections, calm over-activation, slowly reactivate impacted areas, and regain or exceed its former performance. The process works like an electronic coach that provides feedback when the brain is working better.  

Ultimately, we share information with our clients and their parents about the risks involved with continued play so that they along with their physician can make the decision about a judicious return to play when recovery is complete.

Monitor and respond

Parents, coaches and teachers should be alert for concussion symptoms (including confusion, delayed reaction times, agitation, headache, dizziness, inappropriate or unusual responses, altered sleep patterns) among their players and students. Parents should ask their children if they’ve been hit in the head during practice as well as games. Even mild head trauma should be reported and treated promptly to avoid worsening of symptoms and the risk of new blows to the head.

Consider baseline testing

Some schools have begun using pre-season neurocognitive testing so they have a baseline to monitor for concussion. We also recommend electrophysiological testing (Quantitative Electroencephalogram, QEEG) also called brain mapping, a type of functional imaging. QEEG is not diagnostic; it does provide insight into how areas of the brain are currently performing. Please contact our office if you are interested in learning more about getting a pre or mid-season baseline.

Note: This information is for educational purposes only and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your medical professional if you have any health concerns.

About the Author

Cynde Margritz

Cynde Margritz

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