Recently, as the public awareness has grown of ADD and ADHD, physicians are being more frequently approached by a parent (either at their own initiative or at the recommendation of a school teacher or school counselor). The parents ask that the child be diagnosed and placed on psychostimulant medication to attempt to control the hyperactivity, inability to focus or other learning disability.
The psychostimulants most generally prescribed include the trade names of Ritalin ®, Cylert ®, Dexedrine ® or Adderall ®. As with any potent medication, there are potential side affects.
Most physicians and pediatricians realize these drugs are only a stop gap measure. In other words, they only treat the symptoms, and never the underlying cause. Unfortunately, most medical literature today solely suggests drug therapy. Yet, many physicians are looking for alternative non-drug ways to treat these conditions.
The Sharper Minds® cognitive mental therapy program is one of the few successful ones out there that address the underlying cause of the dyslexia, ADD and ADHD. The cost to the patient is reasonable since it is done on an outpatient basis without drugs.
Electroencephalograms of a brain that has ADD or ADHD shows a smaller than normal region of activity in the frontal lobe for certain cognitive functions. Conversely for dyslexia, an electroencephalogram shows a wider than normal region of activity above the ear in the temporal lobe.
Researchers theorize that the psychotropics affect the dopamine and norepinephrine levels. In a sense they fill the role of stimulating the intensity of the electrical signals (in the fewer neurons in the "smaller region"), bringing symptomatic relief, and the child functions at more normal levels. However, this can be likened to a car driving in second gear on the highway. The car is maintaining a given speed, yet the RPMs are higher than the engine was designed to operate continuously at. Continue for too long and the engine burns out.
Similarly, as the long term data is beginning to filter in for chronic usage of Ritalin and other psychostimulants, the indications are not good. A higher than anticipated stroke rate around the age of 40 is one finding.
It is well known that the neurological pathways in the brain can be strengthened and the quantity of them increased. One recent book followed a study in which the dissected brains of high school dropouts who had held menial jobs were compared with the dissected brains of those who had gone on to college and held mentally stimulating positions for the majority of their adult lives.
The brains of those who had been mentally active were "dense dendritic plantations" as compared to the dropouts brains which were more like a dense gelatin.
Other recent studies have shown that the human mind has the ability to grow new neurons (from the sub-ventricular zone [svz]), but more importantly, that many of these migrate to the cerebral cortex where they join in the cognitive processes.
When a person has a stroke or a brain injury stemming from an accident where certain functions are lost due to the damage in the brain, therapy can be initiated which can in many cases cause new neural pathways to grow, bypassing the affected areas and restoring function, if not in whole, at least in part.
The Sharper Minds ® program in brief, stimulates the growth and creation of new and strengthened neural pathways, or if you will, lush dendrite bundles in the brain. The program, carefully crafted over 30 years of research and honed by application with many families and students, stimulates areas of the brain to overcome the learning and perceptual disabilities, and the focusing, hyperactivity problems associated with ADD and ADHD.
It has been very successful in even difficult cases (as long as the patient is willing to do the therapy).
The program has been successful in the elderly, as well as young children. Generally, we don't recommend therapy for those less than four years old. And waiting until the child is 5 or 6 has its benefits.
As you discuss options with the parents of the child, share the potential side affects of the psychostimulants and the option of alternative non-drug therapy which produces more lasting benefits.
We encourage you to refer patients suspected of having Attention Deficit Disorder, Dyslexia, or a learning disability, to one of our Centers for a comprehensive objective evaluation. This evaluation will determine the cause of the problem rather than just creating a label for the child.
We will provide a written report to you on request. We can also provide you with brochures to share with your patients. Please contact us for a supply. May we also suggest that you refer your patients to this website (http://www.SharperMinds.net) for more information?
We'll be happy to keep you informed of the progress of any of your patients that are going through the program.