Traumatic Brain Injury:

TBI or Traumatic Brain Injury:

TBI is the “chameleon” in the Diagnostic Manual. Brain injury seems able to masquerade as ADD, anxiety, depression, psychosis, even character disorder.

TBI is one of the most common, but least understood, problems in America. According to the CDC there are 260,000 brain injuries every year to a cost of $37 billion in direct and indirect cost of care. (See also excerpt from The Healing Power of Neurofeedback on this site, and the chapter (4) on Traumatic Brain Injury.)

It has been the experience of many neurofeedback clinicians that emergency rooms almost never pick up on the subtle but pervasive problems after auto accidents, even low-velocity ones, or simple whiplash. People can experience profound and seemingly unrelated problems such as mood instability, sleep patterns, energy, cognition, even immune system problems.tbidiag2.jpg

What is often referred to as “mild traumatic brain injury” feels anything but “mild” to the sufferer, and there can be far reaching problems that effect every category of life. The LENS first showed clinical efficacy in dealing with TBI, and scientific studies, both published and unpublished, show often dramatic improvements. (See Research and Scientific Studies section).

The use of he LENS has helped lead to an understanding of the functional as opposed to structural features of brain injury. That is to say, rather than thinking of our insignificant little energy changes as repairing damaged brains, think of it as “lifting blockades” of the brain’s own self-protective mechanisms in response to injury (we believe the brain often uses its own inhibitor neurotransmitters, such as GABA, to wall-off potential seizure foci or areas that might disrupt its entire functioning. ) The Lens may gradually and subtly lift the brain’s own excessive self-protection, and allow its own self-healing to unfold more rapidly. Indeed, this has been our experience from watching the functional response to treatment after brain injury.

We don’t know if people are using other parts of the brain, or slowly rebuilding old ones. Long-term experience with the use of the LENS on TBI sufferers shows that they improve rapidly at first, and then settle down to a slow, but sure gradient of improvement, perhaps related to rates of neural plasticity.

smmap1.jpgsmmap2.jpg Multiple Head Injuries (4):

These two maps are spaced about four months apart with intervening treatments 2x week (a total of about 32 treatments) You can see that the highly dysregulated Total amplitude sort (bottom square) has changed vastly between two maps.Braiby Injury may even be serious when it has been officially diagnosed as “mild” traumatic brain injury. Sufferers may notice memory lapses, mood swings, sleep disturbance, anxiety, and fatigue, or post-injury fibromyalgia (a not uncommon aftermath of moderate TBI’s).


The LENS works best with problems that have a sudden onset (but the patient was pretty high-functioning before that). Many TBI’s are like that (sudden onset indeed!) The goal seems to be to coax the brain into removing its self-protective blockades–often to ward of seizures or out-of control cortical activity. When this happens, people recover functioning and a sense of normalcy.

Working with TBI’s is the earliest category of injury or impairment in which the LENS demonstrated unequivocal benefit. (See publication in the Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, by Schoenberger, Esty and Ochs, research section.) See also “Head Injury” Chapter in The Healing Power of Neurofeedback, and other papers by Stephen Larsen.

gkear2map.jpgInjury from a gunshot wound in a teacher-in-training in her early thirties. This case is also covered in more detail in The Healing Power of Neurofeedback. The course taken by the bullet can be seen in the left image as it enters center top, caroms off the left (t3) and comes to rest on the lower right–where it is visible as a yellow spot in the right hand picture (the casing is too risky to remove in such cases.) The irritation along the bullet path has mostly disappeared in the second image.


From Len Ochs to TBI sufferers and their families:

Center for Neurofunctioning

1766 Lacassie Avenue

Walnut Creek, CA 94596 (address has changed)


Voice: 925.933.4296


% , 1995


To the person close to someone who has had a head injury:


This information has been prepared for you to bring you some comfort.  Someone special to you has had a head injury.  This injury causes the person’s brain function to change and has the following effects on him or her:


     The person may become more vulnerable and emotionally sensitive (irritable, sad).

     The person may become more distractible.

     The person may become more depressed.

     The person may become angrier.

     The person may become more forgetful.

     The person may have increased problems sleeping.

     The person may lose attention and focus.

     The person doesn’t absorb or remember some of what you say, even if you say it       repeatedly.


There may be an unavoidable temptation for you to view the person as irritating, less competent, less dependable, and less fun to be with.  Your confidence in the person may drop, and he or she may become increasingly disappointing to you.  You may probably not be able to understand why the person doesn’t stop acting that way and get back to normal.  Finally, you may be tempted to think about psychological reasons for the person’s behavior, and find it hard to look at the person as if there is something biological going on. Finally, it may seem to you as if the person may never recover from the problem, and that you won’t be able to wait forever. 


Fortunately, we are finding at noticeable improvement in most head injured patients within a week’s time using a new and experimental treatment.  The treatment involves one brief session a day.  Even more improvement has been observed with another week’s time in patients who were well functioning before their head injury.  Your feedback on changes — or lack of changes — in your favorite person’s behavior is very important to us.  The treatment consists of changing the rigid ways the brain wave frequencies of the patient’s brain have come to respond by alternately speeding and slowing the brain waves, creating the flexibility of response the person once had. 


This is done by recording his or her brain waves, and using the frequencies measured to control the feedback being returned to the individual.  The feedback may be too intense for the person at the start of therapy; so the first part of the therapy is devoted to desensitizing the individual to the feedback.  The second goal of this approach is to make the improvements enduring.  At this point the person is usually ready for discharge, and is showing noticeable signs of improvement.  The results appear to hold, at this stage of development of this technique.


Please keep us informed and feel free to call us with questions.


Yours truly,

Len Ochs, Ph.D.

Psychologist License Number PSY 12119