Tan, G., J. Thornby, D. C. Hammond, U. Strehl, B. Canady, K. Arnemann, and D. A. Kaiser. “Meta-Analysis of EEG Biofeedback in Treating Epilepsy.” Clinical EEG and Neuroscience 40.3 (2009): 173-79. Web.
Per the World Health Organization, 0.8% of the population suffers from epilepsy–a condition defined by reoccurring episodes of seizures. Two-thirds of epileptic patients control seizures via various medications that come with dangerous side effects and long-term health risks. For the patients that do not experience relief from medication, neurosurgery is often sought after as an alternative.
Despite these two alleviative options, 1/3 of all epileptic patients will continue to have uncontrolled seizures throughout their lifetime. To try and target a greater span of relief in epileptic patients, researchers have yielded positive results from various experiments to prove the success of neurofeedback in alleviating seizure frequency.
The Tan, et al. meta-analysis used the results from ten different neurofeedback studies to evaluate the success of this training on epileptic patients.
The meta-analysis exposed a fixed effect of neurofeedback training the frequency of seizures. Both types of neurofeedback training (SMR or SCP) were able to significantly decrease the frequencies of seizures. SMR training revealed the greatest effect on the decrease of seizure frequency, as 79% of the subjects showed a significant reduction in the number of seizures.
The studies within the analysis included placebo controls by providing random neurofeedback, blind studies, and an evaluation procedure to control for patient expectation.
As the studies exposed a significant decrease in seizure frequency in epileptic patients, neurofeedback should strongly be considered as an alternative to medications and neurosurgery.
Legarda, S., McMahon, D., Othmer, S., and Othmer, S. F. (2011). “Clinical Neurofeedback: Case Studies, Proposed Mechanism, and Implications for Pediatric Neurology Practice.” Journal of Child Neurology,(26)8:1045-1051.
In response to the increased trends in the use of neurofeedback for the treatment of epilepsy, the parents of three children with epilepsy spectrum disorders began to have their children train. The case studies of each child are presented with proposed implications. One case experienced irregular seizure activity, and the QEEG showed independent sharp wave discharges at multiple locations in the brain. After 15 sessions of neurofeedback, seizure activity decreased, and after 20 sessions, the child was fully alert and engaged. The child has not experienced any seizure activity in over two years, and she is now able to succeed in school and participate in after-school activities. Results of this case and in the other two cases support the hypothesis that neurofeedback is a useful therapeutic modality for managing neurological disorders such as epilepsy.
Sterman, M. B. (2000). Basic concepts and clinical findings in the treatment of seizure disorders with EEG operant conditioning. Clinical Electroencephalography, 31(1), 4555.
This review focuses on two issues concerning neurofeedback as a treatment for seizure disorders. The first issue concerns whether physiological change is associated with biofeedback procedures. This is addressed through extensive neurophysiological literature documenting immediate and sustained changes associated with elevation of seizure thresholds. The second issue concerns the clinical efficacy of this method, which is addressed through an assessment of peer-reviewed research showing the EEG and clinical results achieved with seizure patients.