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Biofeedback Therapy and Epilepsy

EEG biofeedback therapy has led the medical world to advance beyond the ability to help individuals self treat and regulate autonomic functions that are disrupted through stress. With EEG, brain waves can be monitored to determine the cause of several different disorders, injuries, and general anomalies of the brain. By finding the “malfunction” of a particular brain disorder through EEG biofeedback therapy, it becomes possible to work to control that particular problem area.

EEG biofeedback dates back to the 1960’s, when the first biofeedback therapy studies were conducted. It was found in the studies that increasing the alpha waves of the brain (one of the four types of brain waves) would place the patient in an extremely relaxed state. At the same time, it was found that the 12-15 Hertz region of the EEG was associated with specific rhythmic activity, which he labeled as SensoriMotor Rhythm (SMR). In tests conducted on cats with seizures, which were conducted to gauge SMR affect on epilepsy, showed that cats conditioned to SMR showed a higher threshold for seizure activity.

In discovering this, it was determined that biofeedback therapy could allow epileptic patients to reduce the number of seizure occurrences. By monitoring and conditioning epilepsy patients to SMR, it was believed that the reduction of threat of seizure was not only possible but probable. In real life application, one patient with epilepsy did experience a reduction in seizures, as well as improved sleeping habits. Later, four other patients reduced the number of seizures by 66% through SMR conditioning and enhancement, as well as inhibition of excessive slow-wave brain activity, both of which were made possible through biofeedback therapy.

In 1980, it was published that scientists had found a general reduction of 70% of seizure activity for epilepsy patients who took part in biofeedback therapy. The process is an excellent alternative to invasive procedures and actually allows patients to begin to understand their own physical reactions better and in a more useful way. By monitoring their brain waves and seeking guidance from licensed professionals, epileptic patients have been able to decrease levels of medication and increase normal daily activity, such as driving allowances. With the painless procedure of simply connecting to a monitoring device through external sensors with no invasive processes required, biofeedback therapy has not only improved the treatment of epilepsy but has also made breakthroughs in several other treatment areas. It seems that biofeedback therapy will become the wave of the future in disposing of unnecessary side effects from disorders and diseases.

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