New Study Finds Long Term Effectiveness of Neurofeedback in the Management of Epilepsy!
Dr Shelley Hyman
Pharmacological treatment is the standard intervention for people with epilepsy. However, a significant number of people with epilepsy are drug resistant, meaning that medication is ineffective in the treatment of their epilepsy. In order to explore the possibility of non-pharmacological interventions for patients who were told they had intractable epilepsy, Dr. Ute Strehl and colleagues designed a study to examine the long term impact of neurofeedback in the management of epilepsy in people that were unresponsive to medication.
The first phase of the study involved a sample of 41 participants with intractable epilepsy receiving neurofeedback treatment. Results from stage one of the study indicated that the administration of neurofeedback was associated with a significant decrease in epilepsy related symptoms.
The second phase of the study occurred ten years after the conclusion of the neurofeedback sessions and involved 19 patients from phase one being reviewed in terms of the frequency and severity of their epilepsy related symptoms, particularly seizures.
Results revealed that overall participants continued to experience significantly less seizures ten years after their last session of neurofeedback than they did before receiving the initial neurofeedback treatment.
Dr Strehl and colleagues (2014) hypothesised that these positive long term results indicated that the neurofeedback sessions administered in phase one of the study had benefited participants and taught them the ability to self-regulate their brain activity over the long term.
Although the results of this study were extremely positive, it is important to note that the study was administered on a small sample size and due to the longitudinal nature of the research, the possibility of confounding variables limits the researchers ability to make definitive inferences about causality. However, the study demonstrates some remarkable long term results and provides strong support for the implementation of neurofeedback as an effective non-pharmacological intervention for people with epilepsy, in particular, those who are resistant to medication.
- Strehl, U., Birkle, M. S., Worz, S. & Kotchoubey, B. (2014). Sustained reduction of seizures in patients with intractable epilepsy after self-regulation training of slow cortical potentials - 10 years after, Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 8(604) 1-7