Dr. Bruce Hensel
Children as young as 4 years old are being allowed to take drugs for ADHD and other behavioral problems. But some parents, like the Solomons, were desperate to find a drug-free alternative for their son, Adam. They turned to a new drug-free way to treat ADHD that uses a game-like therapy called Interactive Metronome. Dr. Bruce Hensel reports for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Aug. 23, 2012.
It looks like a noisy video game, but it’s actually a therapy that is helping 11-year-old Adam Solomon train his brain.
When he was in second grade, Adam was reading at kindergarten level. He couldn’t focus and no one knew what was wrong.
“I tried so many things that would wake me from daydreaming when I would stare off into space, like stare off at the wall or something. And teacher would tap on my desk to wake me up. And I would have to do this all the time,” he said.
Adam was in danger of having to go on ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) medication. His family didn’t want that to happen, but his mother Diane Solomon said Adam’s condition was going from bad to worse.
“Adam couldn’t understand instruction. When he did understand instruction he only got part of it,” she said. “He could not coordinate some of his physical movements to do some of the instruction. Every day was the worst of my life. Every day was a struggle.”
“For a lot of kids the biggest problem is that the brain timing is imperfect. It’s not as regulated as it could be,” Hardy said.
The program tries to improve that brain timing and rhythm through a computer program. Patients hear a tone and have to clap their hands or tap their foot to match the beat. The screen gives instant feedback on how well they are keeping up. As their coordination improves, so does their concentration.
“Neurochemically, the brain is talking to itself by sending neurotransmitters throughout the brain in different firing patterns, and as those firing patterns become more and more accurate, then things become easier,” Hardy said. “The brain becomes more organized and that relates to paying attention better, to learn faster to retain information and use it so we can do better in the classroom.”
Adam’s parents say he showed a remarkable difference after he trained on the program for a summer, and they were able to streamline him into a regular classroom for the first time in his life.
After a few more years of training, he tested into the gifted program at Johns Hopkins University.
“It was like, wow, I can do this, and I could never do this before, ever,” said Adam, who wants to be a doctor.
Kids with ADHD, Autism, or other attention problems, stroke patients and athletes may find Interactive Metronome useful.