LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Imagine being able to retrain your brain to help your brain function better.
One Little Rock doctor is bringing a “user-friendly” neurofeedback training system to the city and claims it could help with everything from anxiety, depression, OCD, ADD, ADHD, addiction and more without taking pills.
For around 30 minutes every day, Lily Payne and her husband put in their headphones and hook up NeurOptimals dynamic neurofeedback machine.
“You’re just hearing the soft sounds of bells birds while you sit,” she said. “It’s really zen music in the background.”
Dr. Becky Whetstone, a marriage and family therapist, recently brought the technology to central Arkansas after discovering what she felt was a lack of awareness of neurofeedback training in the state. “I went to a trauma conference in NYC with five of the most world-renowned trauma experts and they said you've got to incorporate neurofeedback in your practice to help people who are traumatized,” she said.
Once Whetstone got the technology, she recommended it to Payne. It’s been 3 weeks since she started using it and she feels it’s working. “I am using it for depression, anxiety, and OCD,” said Payne. “It’s really helped with my depression.”
But how does this technology work? Dr. Whetstone said neurofeedback training is well researched and well known in the mental health community as a way to help train the brain to function better and balance after trauma.
“As we go through events in childhood that are even as little as something that hurts our feelings or where we’re not feeling good enough in a situation, all of these are traumatizing events,” she said. “When dealing with those events, the brain adjusts itself to keep us from suffering and sometimes it will numb us, bring about depression, or make us fearful.”
She said the brain doesn't realize that many adjustments it makes in response to trauma are dysfunctional and will disrupt the ability to function well as an individual or in a relationship.
“We hook people up whose brain has adjusted in a way that’s not working for them,” she said. On the first floor of the Plaza West building in Midtown Little Rock, Whetstone and her husband created the Brain Change Center.
This is a place where people can hook up to the NeurOptimal machine and begin a session of neurofeedback in a relaxing setting. Whetstone also rents out the machines for people to use at home. “You don't need a trained expert to hook you up and you don't need a diagnosis whatsoever,” she said. “It’s a very user-friendly form of neurofeedback that's less intimidating.”
Payne and her husband plan to continue using their at-home rental machine for a few more weeks.
“I want to continue in this path because I can tell a huge difference in my overall personality and communication with my husband,” said Payne.
The neurofeedback sessions through the Brain Change Center can be costly, costing up to $100 dollars per session. Whetstone said the number of sessions an individual needs vary. It costs around $1,000 to rent the machine for unlimited use at home for a month.
This type of NeurOptimal technology is FDA safe test approved. They do not evaluate its effectiveness, however, because it is the technology used for brain training and not as a treatment process.
(Ed. note: There are several other neurofeedback centers in central Arkansas.)