The economic burden of providing special education and training for a child diagnosed with ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) is estimated to cost the average American family five times as much as a child without ADHD. Such cost considerations force many families to focus on the remission of the condition through prescribed medications. A study in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (JAACAP), published by Elsevier, reports on a review of nonpharmacological treatments for ADHD, specifically electroencephalogram (EEG biofeedback, or neurofeedback), which shows a large improvement of inattention at the end of the trial, but without a significant difference between the two treatments.
The findings are based on the International ADHD Neurofeedback (ICAN) study, which began recruiting in 2014 at two sites.
A sample of 142 children aged between 7 – 10 years of age, with ADHD and high inattention scores, as rated by both the children’s parents and teachers, were randomly assigned 38 sessions of either a real theta-beta neurofeedback, or an identical-appearing control treatment that differed only in having screen display and rewards based on a pre-recorded EEG of another child. This resulted in the child, parent and trainers unable to guess the treatment assignment. To ensure the study remained blind, the child’s own muscle artifacts were superimposed on the pre-recorded EEG. Treatment at three times a week lasted 3-4 months. The primary outcome was the average of parent and teacher ratings of inattention.
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