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EEG Stimulation: Neurotherapy and Fibromyalgia

Dr. Mary Lee Esty believes fibromyalgia (FMS) is misnamed because the dysfunction is in the brain, not in the muscle fibers.  Trauma-induced changes in the central nervous system (CNS) perpetuate FMS symptoms.  The CNS ability to filter and process signals is modified, leaving increased perception of pain.  Dr. Esty has found that most FMS patients seen in her clinic have a history of mild or moderate brain trauma. When brain cells are damaged by physical or biochemical trauma, imbalances appear, regardless of the cause of damage.  The first 2 grades of concussion do not involve loss of consciousness and many people remain unaware that they have sustained a concussion.  Brain trauma is cumulative.  Minor brain traumas through life can culminate in a variety of major dysfunctions.  The majority of FMS patients have had brain trauma that is sufficient to affect functioning.

Improvements and enhancements to older equipment and treatment protocols have resulted in Neurosymmetries, a treatment device that can be used in treatment once or twice a week.  In treatment the EEG signals are recorded through surface electrodes held on the scalp with a conductive paste by a standard EEG system that records brainwave activity while the gentle stimulation of Neurosymmetries is taking place.  Neurosymmetries uses an invisible and imperceptible pulsed electromagnetic signal and direct current radiating to the scalp.  Signal power is approximately the same as normal brainwave activity (a trillionth of a watt).  During treatment the exposure length of stimulation is modified according to the specific needs and responses of the individual patient.

The initial evaluation includes a history, a brain map, and a treatment.  The maps are painless measures of brain function that reveal EEG patterns.  Imbalances in energy distribution are indicators of types of dysfunction and predictors of treatment response.  In a healthy person, brain waves are relatively smooth.  When healthy adults are awake the slower brain waves (1-4 cycles/second) should have relatively low power and be equal in energy and smoothness.  EEG activity in FMS patients is excessive in the front of the head, indicating an imbalance consistent with energy, mood, restless mind, sleep, cognitive, loss of libido, dysautonomia, and pain problems.  This inefficient energy state reflects the very real life problems of people with FMS.  When the brain functions efficiently, effects of body therapies provide lasting results.

As the electroencephalogram (EEG) amplitudes begin to lower and to smooth, FMS patients experience a reduction of symptoms.  Dr. Esty has found that patients with FMS are able to delete or reduce medications substantially.  As FMS "fibrofog" lifts, some patients become aware of sharper, localized myofascial TrP pain.  These TrPs are then treated with appropriate bodywork, and localized symptoms are relieved.  The majority of people without chronic infection who complete EEG stimulation treatment have achieved virtual remission of FMS symptoms.  The researchers found that some FMS patients concentrate with their eyes closed because this cuts down on sensory stimuli.  This may be useful for us to remember in times of fibrofog.  A study using one form of EEG stimulation, SyNAPs, is in progress in Flint, MI, with patients who have both FMS and myofascial pain.

EEG stimulation treatment is effective for traumatic brain injuries.  Gentle stimulation "tickles" the brain and is thought to activate symptomatic change by enhancing neural plasticity, the capacity of the brain to change.  Mechanisms that may be activated by this stimulation include increased blood flow, changes in glucose metabolism, stimulation of neuron healing, and a change in cell inhibitory/excitatory potentials.  For information contact:

Mary Lee Esty, Ph.D., LCSW-C,
Brain Wellness and Biofeedback Center of Washington, LLC
7910 Woodmont Ave. #305
Bethesda, MD

Phone: 301-215-7721
web: brainwellnessandbiofeedback.com  

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