Doc­tors warn against rush to neu­rother­apy

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - STREET WATCH -

NEU­ROTHER­APY, also called neu­ro­feed­back or brain­wave train­ing, is emerg­ing as an al­ter­na­tive treat­ment for adults and chil­dren with con­di­tions like anx­i­ety and ADHD. The prac­tice is based on a be­lief that the brain is change­able and can be re­con­di­tioned or re­trained. Re­porter Jaime Shurmer looks at the risks, costs and pur­ported ben­e­fits of neu­rother­apy… A GROW­ING in­ter­est in neu­rother­apy to treat some men­tal ill­nesses and ADHD has sparked a warn­ing by a doc­tors’ group.

The Perth Brain Cen­tre (PBC) has clin­ics in At­tadale and Cur­ram­bine and is one of sev­eral fa­cil­i­ties in Perth that claim to ob­serve and in­flu­ence the func­tion of the brain.

As a reg­is­tered chi­ro­prac­tor trained in var­i­ous neu­rother­apy tech­niques, Daniel Lane opened the PBC in 2007 and de­scribes the cen­tre’s treat­ments as “cut­ting edge and ev­i­dence-based”.

He typ­i­cally sees chil­dren with ADHD and learn­ing dis­or­ders, and adults with anx­i­ety or de­pres­sion or chronic pain, charg­ing $295 for QEEG brain scans with treat­ment ses­sions cost­ing ex­tra.

“We’re flat out,” he said. “We em­ployed an­other OT (oc­cu­pa­tional ther­a­pist) re­cently. More peo­ple are look­ing to al­ter­na­tives for do­ing coun­selling or tak­ing med­i­ca­tion.”

Aus­tralian Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion WA pres­i­dent An­drew Miller urged peo­ple to see their GP in­stead.

Dr Miller said there were con­cerns the sci­en­tific term ‘neu­ro­plas­tic­ity’ was be­ing used to sup­port as­ser­tions that dis­or­ders like de­pres­sion and ADHD could be ‘cured’.

“This is not ev­i­dence-based in any sci­en­tific sense and we are con­cerned that they are of­fer­ing these ther­a­pies to vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple who have suf­fered a stroke or trau­matic brain in­jury,” he said.

Dr Miller said GPs had the full pic­ture of an in­di­vid­ual’s health needs.

“Sit down with your GP and if nec­es­sary get re­ferred to an­other cred­i­ble spe­cial­ist,” he said.

A dis­claimer un­der Daniel Lane’s pro­file on the PBC web­site says he is a gen­eral reg­is­tered chi­ro­prac­tor and says peo­ple may seek a sec­ond opinion from a reg­is­tered spe­cial­ist neu­rol­o­gist or med­i­cal prac­ti­tioner prior to com­menc­ing treat­ment.

Mr Lane said most pa­tients at­tended the clinic by word of mouth, but GP re­fer­rals were be­com­ing more com­mon.

“We are ob­vi­ously dis­ap­pointed with the re­cent com­ments from Dr Miller, how­ever it is likely that he is sim­ply mis­in­formed or mis­un­der­stands the na­ture of the work we pro­vide,” Mr Lane said.

He be­lieved the sci­ence of neu­ro­plas­tic­ity was not a field ex­clu­sive to one pro­fes­sion.

“Few health­care pro­fes­sion­als these days would be so bold as to of­fer ‘cures’ for con­di­tions such as ADHD, de­pres­sion or chronic pain,” he said.

“We take great care not to “over-prom­ise” or to make un­sub­stan­ti­ated claims and the treat­ments we pro­vide in clinic are based upon, or du­pli­cate re­search from ex­perts in their fields around the world from places like Har­vard Med­i­cal School and The Mayo Clinic in the USA. They are not in­sti­tu­tions associated with ‘fringe’ work.”

The School Psy­chol­o­gists As­so­ci­a­tion con­fer­ence will host Mr Lane as one of many speak­ers in Septem­ber.

“While SPA does not see that there is a spe­cific need for al­ter­na­tive neu­rother­apy prac­tices, we re­main cu­ri­ous and in­ter­ested in re­gards to spe­cific de­vel­op­ments and cur­rent prac­tice in the area of reg­u­la­tion,” SPAWA pres­i­dent Shan­non Steven said.

Curtin re­searcher Martin Whitely is a known critic of over-pre­scrib­ing ADHD med­i­ca­tion for chil­dren.

“I ac­cept the crit­i­cism by the AMA about it (neu­rother­apy) be­ing po­ten­tially over­sold but an over-med­i­calised ap­proach can be just as dan­ger­ous,” Mr Whitely said.

He urged par­ents to es­tab­lish the un­der­ly­ing cause of their child’s be­hav­iour, be it sleep de­pri­va­tion, bul­ly­ing, un­di­ag­nosed eye-sight or hear­ing prob­lems, bright but bored in class, or sim­ply be­ing younger than their class­mates.

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