LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - A powerful and non-invasive process claims it can eliminate and dramatically improve chronic neurological conditions - simply by watching a movie, listening to music or even playing a video game.
It's called Neurofeedback. Those who have tried it say they are seeing huge improvements in treating conditions like depression, anxiety, migraines, chronic pain, insomnia, ADHD and a number of others.
8-year-old Carley Wolfe is about to retrain and improve her brainwaves by watching a Disney movie. She talks with a doctor in preparation:
"How ya feeling today Carley? Good? Good."
Before she starts the process, electrodes are applied to her head.
"You got your earrings out? Yeah. Alright."
Photic Light Glasses are worn.
"Alright are you comfortable? Yes, Ok."
Along with headphones.
"You ready to get started? Yeah."
According to her mother, Lauri Wolfe, Carley started suffering from severe anxiety after moving from Texas.
"She was having panic attacks. She would start shaking and getting clammy hands and just getting upset," Lauri said.
Lauri said her daughter's anxiety got worse. Carley had trouble going to school, meeting new friends and being in a large group setting.
Fearing possible side-effects, Lauri refused to give her daughter medication, so she hit the internet and came across something called Neurofeedback.
"That kept popping up, and it was the only one that was non-invasive, non-medical...medication-wise and long-lasting," Lauri said.
Dr. Steven Bennett says there are more than 50 years of research that show Neurofeedback can eliminate or improve symptoms for individuals who suffer from more than a dozen symptoms, some of which include: anxiety, depression, addiction, ADHD, insomnia and memory loss.
"The great thing about it is... it's permanent," Dr. Bennett says.
When asked if he has seen anyone go through this process and not see results, Dr. Bennett responded, "Not yet."
The first step to Neurofeedback involves recording an image of the client's brain waves. The recording is compared to roughly 200,000 other brain maps of healthy brain activity.
Results, shown as red dots, reveal irregular brain wave activity, signaling areas that need improvement.
A protocol is then selected, which helps the client retrain their brain. This protocol can be something as simple as listening to music, playing video games, or, in Carley's case, watching a movie.
"Your brain is doing all the work. All you do is relax," Dr. Bennett said.
As Carley watches her movie, the computer monitors her brainwaves.
"What we want to check on her is reducing frequencies in the right and left hemispheres," Dr. Bennett explained.
When Carley loses focus or gets bored, the TV screen dips to black, and the audio will cut out, alerting her to re-focus. When she does, the screen gets brighter and the sound returns.
"Each session, we monitor and see where she is at and we can make the session harder or easier," Dr. Bennett said.
Neurofeedback doesn't target a specific condition, but it does realign brainwaves, which improves timing and activation patterns in the brain. Simply put, the brain functions better, which in turn can improve or eliminate symptoms such as Carley's anxiety.
"It's great... great. She's doing much better," Lauri said.
After just 15 sessions, each lasting 30 minutes, Lauri says her daughter's condition is like night and day.
"Now she's taking classes and she's okay. She's not having any panic attacks. She's happy and excited to go," Lauri said. "It's been life changing for us."
So how do you know if Neurofeedback really works? One look at a before and after image of a patient's brain says it all.
In before pictures, you can see discoloration in the frontal lobe, meaning there are unhealthy brain wave patterns and connectivity issues.
In after pictures, the discoloration is gone, indicating significant improvements, some of which are permanent.
Carley's mother is convinced it works. Lauri says for the first time since the kids were born, she and her husband are able to have date nights without any concerns, worries or interruptions.
For more information on Neurofeedback, how it works, the countless conditions it can help treat, and where you can go if you need it, follow the links below.