Can Neurofeedback Help Parkinson’s Disease?

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Parkinson’s disease is caused by a breakdown in the nerve cells that make dopamine, a neurotransmitter. This breakdown affects a person’s motor function, causing uncontrollable shaking and loss of voluntary muscle movement. About 1 million Americans live with it, and as of now there is no known cure. However, studies have shown that brain-based therapies like neurofeedback may offer some hope.

Parkinson’s is progressive, which means it gets worse over time, usually over the course of many years. The origin of Parkinson’s disease is unknown, although scientists studying it suspect a toxic environment is a major contributing factor, especially exposure to pesticides. Genetics are also known to play a role. In the later stages of the disease, the patient may develop a blank expression, problems with speech, and a decline in mental acuity.

All of these symptoms point to the brain as the primary factor that triggers symptoms of the disease. Allopathic treatments such as deep brain stimulation have shown an ability to control the involuntary movements. Physical therapy and proper diet also can alleviate some of the symptoms.

Though certainly not a cure, neurofeedback may help to manage the symptoms of Parkinson’s, allowing a person living with the disease to enjoy a better quality of life. It has been shown to work best alongside some of the therapy options listed above.

There have already been studies completed on the efficacy of neurofeedback in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, and more are being done every year. But the early research shows that there is some benefit to using neurofeedback as a treatment option. And that is good news for those who have it and those who are full time care providers assisting them.

Here is a list of additional reading on the topic:
Neural Networks and Neurofeedback in Parkinson’s Disease (a study)
Neurofeedback as a Treatment for Parkinson’s Disease (Psychology Today article)

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