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Neurofeedback and traumatic brain injury: A literature review

Geoffrey May, MD

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, Michigan, USA

Randall Benson, MD

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, Michigan, USA

Richard Balon, MD

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, Michigan, USA

Nash Boutros, MD

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, Michigan, USA

BACKGROUND: Neurofeedback is a form of biofeedback whereby a patient can learn to control measurements of brain activity such as those recorded by an electroencephalogram. It has been explored as a treatment for sequelae of traumatic brain injury, although the use of neurofeedback remains outside the realm of routine clinical practice.

METHODS: Google Scholar™ was used to find 22 examples of primary research. Measures of symptom improvement, neuropsychological testing, and changes in subjects’ quantitative electroencephalogram were included in the analysis. A single reviewer classified each study according to a rubric devised by 2 societies dedicated to neurofeedback research.

RESULTS: All studies demonstrated positive findings, in that neurofeedback led to improvement in measures of impairment, whether subjective, objective, or both. However, placebo-controlled studies were lacking, some reports omitted important details, and study designs differed to the point where effect size could not be calculated quantitatively.

CONCLUSIONS: Neurofeedback is a promising treatment that warrants double-blind, placebo-controlled studies to determine its potential role in the treatment of traumatic brain injury. Clinicians can advise that some patients report improvement in a wide range of neuropsychiatric symptoms after undergoing neurofeedback, although the treatment remains experimental, with no standard methodology.

KEYWORDS: neurofeedback, traumatic brain injury, quantitative electroencephalogram

ANNALS OF CLINICAL PSYCHIATRY 2013;25(4):289-296

CORRESPONDENCE: Geoffrey May, MD Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences Wayne State University School of Medicine 3901 Walter P. Chrysler Service Drive Suite 300 Detroit, MI 48201 USA E-MAIL: gmay@med.wayne.edu
Annals of Clinical Psychiatry ©2013 Quadrant HealthCom Inc.

 
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