Tackling brain disorders without drugs

Last Updated: Thu, Apr 02, 2009 06:04 hrs

Chennai: “This was the first time in six years that we celebrated the festival of lights (Diwali) with joy rather than tears,” says Pratibha, mother of 14-year-old Jahnvi.

Jahnvi, an autistic child, had an extreme hyperactivity disorder and always reacted violently to crackers or other sudden loud noises.

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“Her reactions were so adverse -- she would literally jump till the ceiling and hurt herself and others --that we usually spend our Diwali in hospitals,” recalls Pratibha.
In July 2008, on the verge of despair, Prathiba and her husband took Jahnvi for Brain Function Training (BFT) at Medha Mind Enhancement Company in Chennai. Within six months, there was a dramatic improvement in the girl’s condition. “Now, we are even thinking of shifting her to a normal school from the special school she attends currently,” beams a visibly-relieved Pratibha.
So is the case with Krishna. From the age of five, Krishna had never been good at academics and barely managed to score more than 20 per cent in any of the subjects. Coupled with this, he also exhibited violent behaviour, and regularly fought with his classmates. This forced his parents to shift him from one school to another. 

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However, after six months of BFT, Krishna amazed everyone by clearing his Standard X examination with 60 per cent marks. Now, he wants to become a doctor.
“Brain function training or neuro feedback, as it is technically called, helps people to gain control over their minds and thus overcome disorders,” says N S Srinivasan, Executive coach and Chief Mentor of Medha Mind Enhancement Company Pvt Ltd. “This is possible because brain has no intelligence or logic. It is simply a set of chemicals and can be trained to function the way we want it to,” he explains.
The crux of BFT is to train the brain to produce normal EEG patterns, regulate its hyperactivity (seen in most autistic children) and to aid in complete coordination of its various parts, says Sakthi Sivakumar, a brain function trainer working with Medha Mind. All this with the complete participation of the affected child,  and not with the aid of any drugs, he adds. 

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Though about four decades old, the concept of neuro feedback as a therapy for brain function disorders is relatively new in India. Chemical therapy for brain disorders is more popular owing to its quick impact and mass awareness.
“However, the only disadvantage with anti-depressants (chemical therapy) is their vast side-effects,” says Srinivasan. “In neuro feedback, there are no drugs involved. Instead, we identify the dysfunctional part of the brain using electrical wave patterns and try to stimulate the non-performing area of the brain by training the mind,” he says.
 “As BFT involves a certain level of participation from the client side, we prefer children above six and customize the programme according to his/her need,” explains Sakthi, who specialises in training children.

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BFT is a highly customized programme which varies with every individual depending on their medical condition. “Some disorders could be genetic, some pathogenic, some caused by external environment. It is important also to know the kind of drugs being used,  as they may have a residual effect,” says Srinivasan.
After a complete perusal of his or her medical records, the patient is subjected to a 19-lead assessment using electrodes for brain mapping. This helps in identifying the performance of the brain and localizes the problem. Later, a connectivity analysis of the brain is done and subsequent training for relevant dysnfunctional areas are started, explains Srinivasan.

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With children, there has been an almost 90-95 per cent success rate, says Sakthi, who has trained about 17 children. There has been an 80-90 per cent increase in peak performance of children and about 50-60 per cent of autistic children have learnt to exert more control over their brain, he adds with a satisfied smile.
There has been a lot of research happening all over the world and neuro feedback is recognized as an effective therapy in the US. However, in India, the awareness about BFT is little,  and even the medical fraternity is not completely cognizant of its benefits, says Srinivasan.
The identification of brain disorders has to begin at the school level,  as teachers spend more time with children than parents now-a-days, feels Sakthi. But awareness about cognitive disorders is very low among teachers. If they can be taught to identify the symptoms, it helps in early detection leading to a complete cure, he adds.
The US-based International Society of Neuro Research (ISNR) is pooling funds to create awareness about this mode of therapy for brain function disorders,  and is also training a lot of professionals to make the treatment available to all. “However, there are only about 6 or 7 professionally BFT trainers in India till date,” says Sakthi.

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With the view to increasing awareness about brain disorders among school children and teachers, Medha Minds is also planning to approach a few schools to run an educational programme.
“After seeing the positive impact of the training on children, even corporates have approached us for a focused training for their professionals,” says a contented Srinivasan, who has been practicing the concept since 2001.

For more details, check out http://www.medhamind.com/

Ph: 044-24341948
(Some names of patients and parents have been changed in order to protect their privacy)

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