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Mental health clinic adopts brain-training treatment

Mental health clinic adopts brain-training treatment

AMMON, Idaho - One mental health clinic in Ammon Idaho is working to combat mental illness and addiction with neurotherapy.

Neurofeedback supervisor Bonita Avery and licensed clinical social worker David Spencer have been working with patients at Pearl Health Clinic since 2012 to regulate brain activity.

"We have a lot of chronically mentally ill patients that we see at our clinic," said Spencer. "For some, they've tried different types of things. They've tried medications, they've tried counseling, but even though they have seen some improvement they're looking for that next step."

Avery said she and Spencer use neurotherapy to help patients connect brain cells in on organized manner. She explained that three electrodes are placed on various parts of the patients scalp, which transmits brain activity to a computer. Patients choose from one of two tasks, either playing a video game or watching movie. The movie can either stay at normal screen resolution (showing healthy brain activity) or it shrinks (showing a disconnect or disarray of brain cells). All this information is given to a computer that records all patient brain activity, encouraging control of emotions and behavior.

"It's a way of training the brain to self regulate," said Avery. "We want our brain to naturally take over and to naturally correct itself."

Spencer said therapy has helped patients combat attention deficit disorder, anxiety, depression, and in some case those with who suffer from seizures. He said not only can this therapy work as a booster for patients on medication, but also as an alternative for those who haven't been successful with other forms of remedy.

"The clients that I have say, 'With certain medications it has taken me several weeks or months to really notice a difference, but with neurofeedback I'm able to sleep better the first night (after treatment).' I think that's huge."

Experts said their biggest success has been with illnesses directly related to sleep disorders or troubles sleeping due to troubling scenarios.

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