There are some studies which showed neurofeedback therapy (NFT) can be effective in clients with traumatic brain injury (TBI) history. However, randomized controlled clinical trials are still needed for evaluation of this treatment as a standard option. This preliminary study was aimed to evaluate the effect of NFT on continuous attention (CA) and short-term memory (STM) of clients with moderate TBI using a randomized controlled clinical trial (RCT).
In this preliminary RCT, seventeen eligible patients with moderate TBI were randomly allocated in two intervention and control groups. All the patients were evaluated for CA and STM using the visual continuous attention test and Wechsler memory scale-4th edition (WMS-IV) test, respectively, both at the time of inclusion to the project and four weeks later. The intervention group participated in 20 sessions of NFT through the first four weeks. Conversely, the control group participated in the same NF sessions from the fifth week to eighth week of the project.
Eight subjects in the intervention group and five subjects in the control group completed the study. The mean and standard deviation of participants’ age were (26.75±15.16) years and (27.60±8.17) years in experiment and control groups, respectively. All of the subjects were male. No significant improvement was observed in any variables of the visual continuous attention test and WMS-IV test between two groups (p≥0.05).
Based on our literature review, it seems that our study is the only study performed on the effect of NFT on TBI patients with control group. NFT has no effect on CA and STM in patients with moderate TBI. More RCTs with large sample sizes, more sessions of treatment, longer time of follow-up and different protocols are recommended.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) means an injury to the brain that is caused by an external physical force. It is well known that TBI is an important cause of mortality and morbidity and it is reported that each year about 1.7 million people sustain a TBI in USA. Some of them die (about 50,000) and some other experience long-term disability (80,000 to 90,000).1; 2 ; 3 The severity of TBI can be categorized based on the Glasgow comma scale (GCS) at the time of injury as follows: mild (13-15), moderate (9-12) and severe (<9).4 TBI usually affect the brain function such as cognitive status, executive function, memory, data processing, language skills and attention.5 It has heterogeneous aspects and based on the injury location and type. It can have different presentations. Hence it is considered as a difficult one to treat.6
The brain plasticity could help it in rehabilitation phase to restore its normal function after any trauma or disease. But the amount of this ability is poorly understood. Some studies approved that neurofeedback therapy (NFT) can promote neuroplasticity.7 In the method of neurofeedback (NF), as a non-pharmacological intervention, the feedback to brain waves which are representative of subconscious neural activity can be observed by the client and then he/she will be able to control and change them.8 ; 9 There are some evidences that show NFT can be useful in some other diseases like Obsessive-compulsive disorder,10 attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder11 and also refractory epilepsy.12 There are also some published studies about the effect of NFT on patients with TBI. Surmeli in 2007 investigated the effect of NFT on 24 patients with mild TBI and reported that NFT can result in significant improvement in test of variables of attention, beck depression inventory and minnesota multiphasic personality inventory.13 In a study in 2014, with evaluation of two patients with moderate head injury and without control group, it is reported that electroencephalogram biofeedback can lead to increase the cognitive scores and improve the concussion symptoms and finally concluded that NFT can be effective on the changes in the structural and functional connectivity among patients with moderate TBI.14
Although these published papers reported a positive effect of NFT on the TBI patients, we have not enough data about the standard treatment protocol with NF, and literature still needs more original studies like randomized controlled clinical trial to suggest NF as a treatment option among patients with TBI regarding the two following functions of cognitive status: short-term memory (STM) and continuous attention (CA).6
In this preliminary study, we tried to evaluate the effect of NFT on CA and STM of patients with moderate TBI using a randomized controlled clinical trial. […]