The treatment ADHD will soon include a wide range of affordable and easily accessible brain monitoring technology tools. In the last few years the field of personal biometric measurement has exploded. It seems that every day we learn of a new personal wellness tool that makes it easier for us to monitor our health. As of today, we have technological tools that, when coupled with a heart or brain monitor can gauge our levels of calorie expenditure, sleep quality, food sensitivity, fatigue and attention levels. Several tools that monitor attention, food sensitivities and sleep, that are currently available or soon to be available, could be especially useful for reducing Inattentive ADHD symptoms.
This will be another two part post. In part one I will look at brain monitoring technology and in the second part, I will discuss new technology and smart phone apps that help detect and improve problems such as sleep, stress and food sensitivities that can worsen or bring on symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
The most interesting new technology tools that I have found for ADHD monitoring may be the single channel EEG caps or head bands that send a wireless signal to a computer telling the user their state of fatigue or attention. Currently this neuro-feedback tool is available for use at home for attention training but the future may bring apps that continuously monitor and send feedback to our smart phones about our attention levels and about fatigue. I can see, in the future, apps that could be used as study or work aids. These smart phone apps would beep, chime or otherwise alert us when we were starting to space out or fall asleep.
Two companies, Neurosky and Emotiv Life Sciences currently cell consumer EEG monitors for home use. These products are relatively inexpensive ($99.00 in the case of the Neurosky product) and do not require any expertise to set up. Both companies are actively working on brain heath and attention applications.
Another brain monitoring device currently being tested by the pharmaceutical company Hoffmann-La Roche is called the iBrain. This personal brain monitor is not intended for personal use but rather as a physician diagnostic and monitoring tool. The single channel EEG headset is similar to the NeuroSky and the Emotiv Life Sciences headsets but it is being tested as an easy to use monitor that will provide health care practitioners with brain wave information and feedback regarding how well prescribed brain and mood enhancing drugs are working. So far, the company has only stated that the device is useful for the diagnosis of sleep disorders. Information on how well this device can assess a patient’s brain for mental health or cognitive improvement following drug use is still, however, under study.
This is an exciting time in health care. The marriage of technology and personal health monitoring devices will give us valuable health information that will allow us and our health care providers to be more in control of both our physical and our mental health. The speed with which personal monitoring technology tools are being developed is exciting and encouraging. I believe that these devices will, in just a few years, seem quaint and antiquated. The future holds the promise of devices that are smaller, cheaper, more accurate and simply better. In the immortal words of Dr. Seuss, “Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.”