Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Neurofeedback helps relieve chemo brain symptoms, Cleveland reseacher finds

Angela Townsend, The Plain Dealer By Angela Townsend, The Plain Dealer 
Social psychologist Jean Alvarez is one of two Northeast Ohio local providers of the neurofeedback system used in the chemo brain study. (Courtesy Jean Alvarez)
 CLEVELAND,Ohio -- Chemotherapy can save a cancer patient's life. But those who have struggled with chemo brain -- if they even know its name -- can testify to the frustration of not being able to complete the simplest tasks.
Social psychologist Jean Alvarez, a breast cancer survivor, struggled with the condition for years. In 2007, the Lakewood resident turned to neurofeedback when nothing else seemed to help her get rid of the two symptoms she said were "left over" from chemotherapy treatment that ended years earlier.

Finding a provider

    Social psychologist Jean Alvarez is one of two Northeast Ohio local providers of the neurofeedback system used in the chemo brain study, the results of which appeared online earlier this month in the journal Integrative Cancer Therapies. Go to the "Find a trainer" section in the top left-hand corner at zengar.com and fill in your location, or call 1-866-990-6784, Ext. 742, for information on providers in your area.
Alvarez wanted to regain her ability to multitask cognitively, instead of being able to focus only on one thing at a time. She also wanted to stop getting stuck trying to find words midsentence. The ability to have a fluid conversation had escaped her.
Electroencephalogram, or EEG, biofeedback, otherwise known as neurofeedback, is a noninvasive treatment that provides information on and measures changes in a person's brain-wave activity. The brain "self-corrects" by using the feedback to reorganize.
Traditional neurofeedback pinpoints a specific area of the brain in need of correction. But no one knows what the electrical "signature" of chemo brain is, so Alvarez used another type of neurofeedback equipment that addresses the brain as an integrated system, making the specific location of the problem less important.
Resistant to the suggestion of her physician at the time to undergo neuropsychological testing, Alvarez instead decided to pursue neurofeedback after revisiting something she had previously read about the technique.
Not only did Alvarez find relief, but after 10 treatments, she felt as good as she had before she began chemotherapy. That led her to design a research study to see if her success could be replicated. She hoped to provide relief to others more quickly than if they waited for symptoms to dissipate on their own, months or years later.
The small study looked at the impact of neurofeedback on lessening post-cancer cognitive impairment, or PCCI.
Her study was published online April 12 in the journal Integrative Cancer Therapies.
The type of neurofeedback employed in the study was a brief interruption in music that the study subject was listening to.
This newer approach to neurofeedback, Alvarez wrote, trains the whole brain by having participants "let go" instead of engaging actively or consciously with the instrument providing that feedback.
Alvarez, director of research at the newly incorporated Cleveland-based Applied Brain Research Foundation of Ohio, began enrolling breast cancer patients for the study in early 2010


To see the study, please follow this link from the journal, Integrative Cancer Therapies:

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