One Doctor’s Experience
HighPoint Neurofeedback Founder Honey Sterzer, RN, LCSW, BCN, interviewed Dr. Anthony Montalbano, a physical therapist in their practice in Highland Park, New Jersey, about his personal experience with neurofeedback. He previously experienced frequent bouts of insomnia and debilitating pain from migraine headaches. The following are highlights from their conversation. Watch the full video.
How Does Neurofeedback Help?
Neurofeedback is a type of biofeedback that has been around for more than 50 years and teaches individuals how to better regulate their brain waves using operant conditioning. Neurofeedback helps individuals practice and repeat healthy patterns of brain waves through a multi-week course of training. This neurofeedback training eliminates dysregulation which can improve emotional well-being, bring more focus, remedy sleep disturbances, reduce headaches and migraines, and positively influence other brain-related conditions. “Neurofeedback was interesting to me just from just how it works…it’s like an insight into brain activity,” Dr. Montalbano explains.
Neurofeedback’s Use for Insomnia and Migraine Headaches
Dr. Montalbano was offered the opportunity to try neurofeedback to see how it could affect his insomnia and severe headaches. “When the opportunity came up to do a brain map, I jumped on it, because I was very eager to see what was going on, if anything, and how I could get better,” he says. Brain maps or a qEEG is typically how a regimen of neurofeedback training starts. Certified neurofeedback practitioners scan brainwaves on the surface of an individual’s scalp with a nylon cap to get a baseline of brainwave activity. The 20-minute evaluation is painless and easy. The results guide what types of training will work best to address an individual’s specific symptoms.
The first neurofeedback protocol they explored for Dr. Montalbano focused on improving his sleep because he reported not being well rested, waking up in the middle of the night, and having difficulty falling asleep. “I was getting a lot of headaches. I wasn’t sleeping that well,” says Dr. Montalbano. “It’s tough to operate, it’s tough to be a human being.” According to the National Institutes of Health, chronic insomnia and other sleep disorders when left untreated can increase the risk of hypertension, diabetes, obesity, depression, heart attack, and stroke.
When asked to describe the frequency and severity of his headaches, Dr. Montalbano reported incapacitating headaches at least once a week. “They can last a couple hours. Borderline migraine level,” he reported. Dealing with frequent migraine headaches can affect so many parts of a person’s life and work. Dr. Montalbano handled it by powering through. “I just kind of accepted it was part of my life,” he says.
The American Migraine Association estimates that 39 million Americans experience migraines each year, and they suspect the prevalence may be much higher. Many do not seek a formal diagnosis and sometimes a root cause for the headaches is elusive.
Results of Neurofeedback on Insomnia and Migraine Headaches
To get started with neurofeedback, board-certified neurofeedback specialists at HighPoint Neurofeedback devised a training protocol to help Dr. Montalbano improve his sleep. “And I can tell you that I felt an effect immediately,” he said. “I fell asleep on the couch that night, and I fell asleep so deeply that I literally felt like I had to peel myself off the couch.” It had been many years since he had such a restorative, deep sleep.
Now that the neurofeedback training for insomnia is complete, his insomnia is no longer a problem. Dr. Montalbano describes his sleep as “A thousand times better [than before] …It’s something I don’t even really worry about that much now. I mean, I don’t think about it.” He generally sleeps well now.
When asked how his headaches are doing after a protocol of neurofeedback designed specifically for headaches and migraines, he shares that the headaches are much lower in intensity and duration. He might have a headache once a month, not weekly as before. “They’re much less frequent. The intensity is way down.” He describes less pain when headaches do recur, which is a big win in his book.
After experiencing neurofeedback and its effects on his own life, Dr. Montalbano recommends it “One thousand percent. I told some of my physical therapy patients and even friends. I highly recommend it.”
Learn More About Neurofeedback Today
Neurofeedback has been helping individuals make lasting changes to improve their lives by training their brain using biofeedback and operant conditioning. By tapping into technology, patients tell us they have been able to reduce or eliminate medications, improve symptoms, and embrace higher levels of well-being. Best of all, training can even be done from the comfort of your home. Contact us today or call us at (732) 249-9800 to request a complimentary consultation to learn if a course of neurofeedback might be right for you. Our clinic is located in Highland Park, New Jersey, and we also offer neurofeedback remotely to patients across the country.