With more than one in 10 children diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, parents and doctors alike have been eager to find alternatives to prescription stimulant medications like Ritalin or Adderall.
In a report published Monday by the journal Pediatrics, a recent study shows that alternative treatments in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder have proven beneficial.
One in 10 children are diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, and many of these children are prescribed harsh medications such as Ritalin and Adderall to help bring balance and focus to their lives. Recently, researchers have been exploring alternatives to prescription medications which include computer programs designed to train the brain to have an increased attention span, and neurofeedback therapy which is designed to teach children ways in which they can keep their brain calm and focused.
The study, which was conducted by researchers at Tufts Medical Center, was conducted on children from more than 100 Boston-area elementary schools. The children, all of which suffered from ADHD and half of which were taking prescription medications, were randomly assigned neurofeedback therapy, cognitive computer training, or neither. The children participating in the study received treatment three times per week for five months. At the end of the study, the results concluded that both the cognitive computer training and neurofeedback therapy provided children with prolonged attention spans, but only the neurofeedback therapy reduced hyperactivity and impulsive behavior.
Dr. Naomi Steiner, a doctor at Tufts’ Floating Hospital for Children, notes that the improvements resulting from the neurofeedback therapy was equally successful in children who were on prescription medications as with children who were not taking any type of medication.
However, while the study shows that neurofeedback is an effective tool for increasing attention span and reducing hyperactivity and impulsive behavior in children with ADHD, for many families the treatment is not an option, due to cost and time.
While neurofeedback is currently not an option for many families, Steiner hopes that with more studies, funding will be provided to implement neurofeedback therapy into schools, making it accessible to all children living with ADHD.