’09 CLINIC SEES PROGRESS FOR ITS PATIENTS
The most difficult decisions always seem to be family related. Early choices associated with parenting require large amounts of research and often sheer guts to follow what the parent believes to be best for the child. It is this “gut-wrenching” feeling many parents associate with autistic children and those diagnosed with Attention Deficient Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficient Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
Questions surround the issue: How young should a child begin treatment? Is a young adult too old? How do you determine medication, or is medication even a good choice? How do you find the best educational system for this child?
These questions and more can be answered by the team of medical experts at the Restore Behavioral Health Clinic, 414 West Sunset Road (across from Home Depot). Signs of working with children are evident upon entry — crayon drawings hang behind the reception desk; games and toys sit in a child-friendly space; and puzzles and books are provided for parents while waiting.
Dr. Melinda Down, clinic director, is a clinical psychologist and a board-certified neurofeedback provider. She has assisted families for over 23 years with this alternative to medication and experienced measurable success with many ADD/ADHD patients. “The side effects from some medications can be quite strong,” says Down. “They can be sedating, addictive and affect heart rates. Patients with very different brain patterns will often be placed on the same medication, and it does not help both patients.”
Neurofeedback is designed around research proving the brain has the ability to change itself in order to improve function. This neuroplasticity reveals that use of a brain-computer may be beneficial to assist the brain to master a more efficient state of neuronal regulation through visual and auditory feedback. In other words, improvement in learning and often in skills is known to occur with neurofeedback through brain retraining.
“We begin with a thorough diagnostic assessment that includes a history of symptoms, neuropsychological testing and the culmination of a very personal brain map, which tells our staff what is needed for improvement,” says Down. “This is a 19-channel assessment of each brain with a very personalized diagnosis. No two brain maps are the same.”
Retraining the brain does take time, however, and most will require between 20 and 80 treatments. “You must be willing to make a time commitment,” says Down. “Typically, patients will need to see us up to six months, at least twice a week.”
There is also a financial commitment. Sessions may run from $65 to $95, depending on the diagnosis. However, for most, this is not covered by insurance. “Texas did mandate coverage for a brain injury and treatment of PTSD with neurofeedback,” says Down. “But we are still advocating for others to receive similar help. We need new legislation.”
Neurofeedback treatment is just a part of how the clinic will work with families. The treatment involves training the parents on proper ways to help the child; training for good brain health with nutrition and exercise; and training to control media exposure to cell phone, computers and television. “We all need to be striving for healthy brains, and it is beneficial to learn what will work with everyone in the family,” says Down.
She smiled while thinking of one patient who came to their clinic on five medications and making little progress. After 40 sessions, the child went down to two medications and began to test within normal range. “Now he is confident, and his school performance has vastly improved,” she said.
“Neurofeedback has measurable success, no matter the age of the patient or the need,” Down says. “We are treating Asperger’s, learning disabilities, language disorders, chronic pain, anxiety, trauma and substance abuse. Others come to improve peak performance with athletics, careers or education. We know we can help parents when life becomes difficult. We do this every day.”
BY PAMELA LUTRELL