Children and adolescents with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have a number of treatment options available to them, including behavioral therapy and stimulant medication. The core symptoms of ADHD, which include hyperactivity and inattention, are the most challenging for clients and those treating them. Individuals with ADHD often have difficulty maintaining social relationships and struggle academically. Even very intelligent children have academic impairments because of impulsivity and inattention. Evidence suggests behavioral therapy can be an effective method for treating ADHD, but many children do not see dramatic results. Medications such as stimulants have been proven to provide immediate symptom improvement, but come with side effects. Therefore, it is necessary to fully explore other avenues of treatment for individuals with ADHD.
To this end, Jorg Assmus of the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Helse Fonna Haugesund Hospital in Norway conducted a study that compared the outcomes of 91 children who underwent neurofeedback (NF) therapy for ADHD to those who received stimulant medication or a combination of both. The participants ranged in age from 6 to 18 and met criteria for ADHD. The process of NF involved providing clients with visual or verbal feedback on certain tasks in order to provide them with the opportunity to improve their behavior. The NF participants received therapy in a total of 30 treatments over the course of several weeks. Symptoms of ADHD were measured for all participants prior to the beginning of treatment and again when treatment ended.
Assmus found that hyperactivity and attention improved in the participants who received NF. Specifically, the symptoms were reduced to levels equal to those of children who received the stimulant. Although these results could be due in part to the lengthy amount of time the children spent with therapists, Assmus believes that the findings clearly provide evidence of success. “The results of the present study support the use of NF as an alternative treatment for ADHD, especially in the 20% of children with ADHD who do not respond to medications,” he said.
Assmus, Jorg, et al. (2012). Neurofeedback for the treatment of children and adolescents with ADHD: a randomized and controlled clinical trial using parental reports. BMC Psychiatry 12, 107. Retrieved from http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-244X/12/107.
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