ADHD Kids

FDA Approves First-ever Game-based DT Device to Help Children with ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common neuro-developmental disorders found among children. It is often diagnosed in childhood and often lasts into adulthood. ADHD affects around 4 million children between the ages of 6–11 years. Common symptoms of ADHD include difficulty paying attention and remaining focused, trouble controlling behavior, and extreme levels of activity. As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, only a trained healthcare professional can make the diagnosis of ADHD and the diagnosis should follow an assessment of pattern of symptoms, which include inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity that interfere with normal functioning and development.

In its landmark decision, US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given a green light to the marketing and use of the first game-based digital therapeutic (DT) device to help children with ADHD improve their attention function. The Akili Interactive’s EndeavorRX, previously known as Project EVO, is the first-of-its-kind video game which can be legally marketed and prescribed by doctors and professionals as a form of medicine in the US.

video game on iphoneAfter undergoing seven years of clinical trials that studied over 600 children, FDA has authorized doctors to prescribe the iPhone and iPad game for children, between the ages 8 to 12, with mainly inattentive or combined-type ADHD, who have demonstrated issues with attention. Before its authorization as a treatment method, FDA reviewed data from multiple studies conducted on over 600 children, including studies that examined, whether participants exhibited improvements in attention function, as measured by the Test of Variables of Attention (TOVA), academic performance measures, and other assessment tools.

The prescription-only game called EndeavorRx has been proven to enhance attention function among children with ADHD, as measured by computer-based testing. It is the first digital therapeutic technique intended to better the symptoms related to ADHD, in addition to being the first game-based therapeutic technique to be granted marketing authorization by the FDA for any sort of condition. The gaming device is proposed to be used along with therapeutic program involving clinician-directed therapy, medication, and/or educational programs, that further address symptoms of the disorder.

Will it work? As per the studies conducted by the company itself, the answer is yes. According to one of the studies, after playing the obstacle-dodging, target-collecting game for 25 minutes a day, five days a week for four weeks, one-third of kids no longer had a measurable attention deficit on at least one measure of objective attention.

As per the developer company, after a month of treatment with the game, improvements in ADHD impairments were maintained for up to a month. Major side effects included seemingly mild frustration, headache, dizziness, emotional reaction, and aggression as compared to traditional drug treatment.

FDA is working on providing timely and easy access to this innovative, easy and safe therapeutic technique to the patients.

Is ADHD Considered A Mental Illness? — DSM (Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

ADHD or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder is a mental illness that is diagnosed in childhood, but in some cases, in adulthood as well. It’s an impulsive and chronic disorder characterized by inattention and hyperactivity. It’s considered a mental illness for two reasons: it’s classified in the DSM-V and the nature of its behavior revolves around mental symptoms. [. . .]

via Is ADHD Considered A Mental Illness? — DSM (Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Fish oil capsules

Omega-3 Supplements may Improve Attention in Some Individuals with ADHD

A new study published in the journal Translational Psychiatry has showed that omega-3 fish oil supplements can improve attention in some youths and children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Scientists at King’s College London in the United Kingdom and China Medical University in Taichung, Taiwan, examined the impact of omega-3 fish oil supplements on cognitive function in people with ADHD. The study involved a randomized controlled trial including 92 individuals with ADHD whose ages ranged from 6 to 18 years.

The participants were given high doses of omega-3 fatty acid eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) or a placebo for 12 weeks. The results revealed that out of all the individuals who received the supplement, those who had the lowest levels of EPA in their blood showed improvement in focused attention and vigilance. Whereas, those whose levels of EPA were normal or high showed no such improvements. The study also revealed some adverse effects of taking omega-3 supplements. A rise in impulsivity was exhibited by those participants who had high blood levels of EPA and took the supplement.

The researchers opine that these results indicate a need for psychiatrists to take a personalized medicine approach when treating individuals with ADHD.

According to Carmine M. Pariante, the study’s author and a professor in the Department of Psychological Medicine at King’s College London, “The omega-3 supplements only worked in children that had lower levels of EPA in their blood, as if the intervention was replenishing a lack of this important nutrient.”

However, Pariante and his colleagues warn that the findings should not be a reason for parents and carers to start giving youths or children omega-3 supplements without first consulting a doctor.

The results of this study add to those of earlier research by the same team that found that ADHD was more common in youths with omega-3 deficiency.

Diet Plans for People with ADHD — Bedlamite Publications

A diet plan for those struggling with ADHD – what to eat and what to avoid.

We’ve all heard the saying, “you are what you eat.” But have you ever considered how true this is for mental illness?

It turns out our diets play a vital role in how our brain functions. And though this may be a concern to those of us with unhealthy appetites, it can also be a blessing for those looking to avoid traditional medications.

via Diet Plans for People With ADHD — Bedlamite Publications

Researchers Explain Neurophysiological Link Between Breathing and Attention

Meditation and ancient breath-focused practices, such as pranayama, have long been known to improve our ability to concentrate. A recent study by researchers at Trinity College Dublin and the Global Brain Health Institute at Trinity, explains for the first time the neurophysiological link between breathing and attention.

Breath-focused meditation and yogic breathing practices have several known cognitive benefits, such as increased ability to focus, improved arousal levels, more positive emotions, decreased mind wandering and emotional reactivity, along with many others. However, no direct neurophysiological link between respiration and cognition has been suggested till date.

The study has been published in a paper entitled “Coupling of respiration and attention via the locus coeruleus: Effects of meditation and pranayama” in the journal Psychophysiology. The research findings has revealed for the first time that breathing which is a key component of meditation and mindfulness practices directly influences the levels of a natural chemical messenger called noradrenaline in the brain.

Noradrenaline is released when we are challenged, curious, worked up, focused or emotionally aroused. If it is produced at optimum levels, it helps the brain grow new connections. In other words, the way we breathe, directly impacts the chemistry of our brains in a way that can enhance our attention and improve our brain health.

The study findings revealed that participants who focused well while undertaking a task that demanded a lot of attention had greater synchronization between their breathing patterns and their attention, than those who had poor focus. The authors of the study believe that it may be possible to use breath-control practices to stabilize attention and boost brain health.

The lead author of the study, Michael Melnychuk, a PhD candidate at the Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience, Trinity, explicated: “Yoga practitioners have claimed for some 2,500 years, that respiration influences the mind. In our study we looked for a neurophysiological link that could help explain these claims by measuring breathing, reaction time, and brain activity in a small area in the brainstem called the locus coeruleus, where noradrenaline is made. Noradrenaline is an all-purpose action system in the brain. When we are stressed we produce too much noradrenaline and we cannot focus. When we feel sluggish, we produce too little and again, we cannot focus. There is a sweet spot of noradrenaline in which our emotions, thinking and memory are much clearer.”

The study has demonstrated that as we breathe in, locus coeruleus activity increases slightly, and as we breathe out, it decreases. In simple words, this means that our attention is affected by our breath and that it rises and falls with the cycle of respiration. By concentrating on and regulating our breathing, it is possible to optimize our attention level and similarly, by focusing on our attention level, our breathing becomes more synchronized.

The research provides deeper scientific understanding of the neurophysiological mechanisms which underlie ancient meditation practices. Further research could help with the development of non-pharmacological therapies for individuals with attention compromised conditions such as ADHD and traumatic brain injury and in supporting cognition in older people.

Ian Robertson, Co-Director of the Global Brain Health Institute at Trinity and Principal Investigator of the study added: “Yogis and Buddhist practitioners have long considered the breath an especially suitable object for meditation. It is believed that by observing the breath and regulating it in precise ways—a practice known as pranayama—changes in arousal, attention, and emotional control that can be of great benefit to the meditator are realized. Our research finds that there is evidence to support the view that there is a strong connection between breath-centered practices and a steadiness of mind.”

According to Robertson, these findings have noteworthy implications for research into brain aging. Brains typically lose mass as they age, but less so in the brains of long term meditators. More ‘youthful’ brains have a reduced risk of dementia and mindfulness meditation techniques actually strengthen brain networks. This research offers one possible reason for this—by regulating our breath we can control noradrenaline, which in the right amount would help the brain grow new connections between cells. This study provides one more reason for everyone to boost their brain health using a whole range of activities ranging from aerobic exercise to mindfulness meditation.

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