Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative brain disorder that impairs motor function, causing shaking limbs, muscle stiffness, and even loss of body movement. It is a progressive disorder, meaning it gets worse over the course of many years. In the later stages of the disease, it may cause a blank expression, a decline in mental acuity, and issues with speech.
Parkinson’s is caused by a breakdown in the brain’s nerve cells that produce dopamine, a neurotransmitter that controls movement, and it affects around 5% of the population, which is about one million Americans. Its origins are unknown for certain, but many scientists suspect exposure to a toxic environment or genetics to be the culprit.
There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease. Current treatments for Parkinson’s disease are essentially designed just to relieve the symptoms of the disorder. The most common treatment for Parkinson’s is a medication called Levodopa, also known as L-Dopa. L-Dopa works by allowing your brain to change it into dopamine, which helps patients control the symptoms of the condition. However, L-Dopa comes along with nasty side effects, and the powers of the drug fade over time with long-term use. In recent years, studies of Parkinson’s disease have shown that neurofeedback can be wonderful treatment for Parkinson’s patients.
What is Neurofeedback?
Neurofeedback is a technology that uses a computer to retrain brainwave patterns by allowing patients to modify their own brainwaves with the use of an EEG. This treatment is a research-proven technique that allows patients to improve their brain function through learning and retraining of their neural pathways, the routes which neurons travel around your brain in order to pass messages.
Through a process known as neuroplasticity, your brain can reform and reorganize connections by identifying and quantifying problematic brain activity. Neurofeedback is a painless, simple, noninvasive learning process that retrains your brain through feedback. Neurofeedback has been extremely effective in relieving symptoms in Parkinson’s patients.
How Neurofeedback Can Help With Parkinson’s Disease
For Parkinson’s patients, neurofeedback treatment works by allowing the patient to modify their brain functions during EEG-mediated self-regulation, along with the guidance of a clinician. The EEG provides a continuous loop of information about the patient’s neural activity so they can learn to voluntarily control parts of their brain, its networks, and its rhythms.
Prior to neurofeedback treatment, Parkinson’s patients’ brains often got “locked” into functioning a certain way as the neurons in their brain travel the same pathways over and over again. Once our brain’s neurons become accustomed to these pathways, it’s very difficult for our brains to break the cycle and allow us to return to our neutral state. Neurofeedback allows Parkinson’s patients to establish new neural pathways, thus controlling certain brainwaves. Parkinson’s patients focus on controlling brainwaves associated with motor symptoms, specifically the beta-band power in the subthalamic nucleus. This part of the brain is believed to play a part in motor control that is critical to controlling erroneous movement.
Research into neurofeedback as a treatment for Parkinson’s disease is showing great results. Neurofeedback can help Parkinson’s patients improve their day-to-day motor function by allowing patients to train the specific brain areas involved in control of body movement. In EEG Neurofeedback as a Treat Method for Parkinson’s Disease, a study by David Linden of Cardiff University, researchers found that neurofeedback improved motor symptoms in patients by 37%.
Research shows that neurofeedback is incredibly successful in reinforcing these cognitive functions that help Parkinson’s patients control their movement. Parkinson’s patients who were treated with neurofeedback saw an improvement in their dynamic and static balance, a decrease in the severity of motor fluctuations, and improvements in sleep. As neurofeedback improves these symptoms, it also results in decreased dependence on medication and a general increase in quality of life. Cognitive re-evaluation in these patients showed an increase in satisfaction levels, possibly due to the sense of direct control over one’s body.
How Brain Forest Can Help You
Though certainly not a standalone cure, neurofeedback has been proven to be an effective tool in managing the symptoms of Parkinson’s, allowing patients living with the disease to experience a higher quality of life. Here at Brain Forest Centers, we are excited about the promising results neurofeedback has produced in the treatment of Parkinson’s and are proud to be able to offer neurofeedback to patients in the Fishers, Indiana area.
At Brain Forest, we use neurofeedback to provide you with the tools to retrain your brain. Visit our website and contact us today for a free brain consultation. Our staff will produce a “brain map,” allowing us to discover the root of your symptoms and create a personalized treatment plan just for you!