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Presenter: Ronald Swatzyna, PhD, Laura Childers, MA, LPC & Erin MacInerney
A large number of neurofeedback candidates have tried a multitude of approaches, treatment modalities, and medications with limited success. Studies find qEEG neurofeedback successful 60 to 80 percent of the time, leaving 20 to 40 percent unsuccessful. This sizable percentage of treatment failure could be avoided by having the electroencephalogram (EEG) analyzed by a electrophysiologist or neurologist who is board certified in electroencephalography. A recent EEG/qEEG study identified four neurobiomarkers that accounted for psychotropic medication failure: focal slowing, beta spindles, encephalopathy, and transient discharges (Swatzyna et al., 2014). Although the qEEG is excellent for identifying the location and significance of focal slowing as well as excessive beta, only the EEG can identify the morphology of beta spindles. In a study by Arns et al. (2015) beta spindles were found to be associated with sleep issues and were best evaluated with polysomnography. In addition, Swatzyna et al. (2015) found that individuals with beta spindles were 5 times more likely to be diagnosed with depression and experienced treatment resistance to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (Arns, 2011). Many sleep issues require a medical intervention and often account for treatment failure. A low voltage slow EEG is the hallmark of encephalopathy but only an electroencephalographer can identify the associated morphology. Unless the brain has enough oxygenation or metabolic support, all therapies and medications will have limited effectiveness. Lastly, transient discharges are often averaged out or removed in the qEEG process. However, identifying the source of these discharges is often critical to protocol design and treatment success. Although everyone who utilizes qEEG collects EEG data, few clinicians have the data read by a board certified electroencephalographer. This presentation provides case examples where data from an EEG provided critical information such as structural, metabolic or toxic etiology which required further testing, altered treatment, and improved the success rate of a client.