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NHS considers ‘brain training’ treatment as ADHD prescriptions reach 1.1 million



NHS considers ‘brain training’ treatment as ADHD prescriptions reach 1.1 million – savings of £200m over next 5 years

11 April 2014 – As prescription numbers for ADHD reached a record 1.1 million in 2013, the NHS is considering neurofeedback ‘brain training’ as an alternative treatment.

Prescriptions tripled between 2002 and 2012 to reach 1 million, and continued to grow in 2013, newly released figures show. Methylphenidate (Ritalin) prescriptions made up 79% of the total at 859,035, an increase of 173% in 10 years (2003 = 314,500).

MPH Presciption Figures & 10 year growth arrow

The growth in drug use comes despite increased concerns over the side-effects of medication and the recent revelation[1] that methylphenidate can cause dangerous erections lasting more than 4 hours in young boys. There are also increased concerns over pharmaceutical-company sponsored clinical trials and the recent admission by the UK’s medicines regulator that it cannot find the clinical evidence that justified the licensing of Ritalin[2].

But the NHS has confirmed it is considering a drug-free ‘brain training’ treatment that is increasingly popular in the USA, Canada, Germany and the Netherlands. Neurofeedback, discovered by NASA in the 1960s, has been independently assessed as meeting the highest levels of evidence-based practice for Hyperactivity and Attention disorders and this same evidence[3] will be considered by NICE in their review of ADHD guidelines in September this year[4].

“If you look at the evidence and the cost savings to the tax payer it should be a ‘no-brainer'” says Stuart Black of BrainTrainUK, a Harley Street Neurofeedback practice backed by crowd-funding lenders Funding Circle and planning to expand throughout the UK. “We’ve conservatively calculated that the NHS could save £200m over the next 5 years[5], enough to pay for 1,000 new nurses. We don’t want to be in Harley Street catering for just the wealthy, this should be available to every patient in this country who is looking for an effective alternative to medication.”

There is lot of controversy around ADHD diagnosis and allegations that some lazy parents are motivated to medicate their children to give them an easy life and get extra benefits[6]. “Neurofeedback is not an option for lazy parents” says Black, “a typical  Neurofeedback training programme requires 20 or more visits to one of our clinics for 30-minute sessions. However, because Neurofeedback addresses the underlying causes of inattention and hyperactivity, and the results have been shown to last 10 years, without the risk of side-effects, we are finding more parents and children willing to put in the effort to get the results”.

It’s not just children who suffer with ADHD. James Bluett, 39, is a one of BrainTrainUK’s success stories. Although James had experienced difficulties for some time, it wasn’t until 2011 that he was diagnosed with ADHD and put on stimulant medication. After 20 sessions of Neurofeedback training, James experienced significant improvements in his ADHD symptoms of distractibility, planning and organisation, but also lower anxiety, obsessive worries and greater emotional stability.

James says ‘I feel less impulsive now and the obsessive thoughts don’t control me. I can acknowledge them and let them bounce off. They don’t stay and don’t get their claws in what I’m doing. I have a clear head, feel more alert and am able to think about one thing instead of many other things.’

Darren Morgan*, 12, has also found success with Neurofeedback. Diagnosed with ADHD age 7, although he is extremely bright, he was easily distracted in the classroom and got into trouble. After 20 sessions of Neurofeedback he reported that “I’m now able to say to myself ‘I’m not going to do that’”.

Mark Schwartz, Director at the independent Biofeedback Federation of Europe (IBFE), a non-profit making organisation pursuing research into brain activity for healthier function, adds “Besides the findings from recent research[7] independent evaluations of Neurofeedback’s evidence-base are increasingly validating its effectiveness in treating the core symptoms of ADHD”

Neurofeedback works by providing feedback on how well your brain is working, sending this back to the brain through video and audio. It has been demonstrated that the treatment not only provides a natural solution but that the results also last longer, with evidence that the effects last for as long as 10 years after training ends.

–  Ends  –

Notes to Editors:


For more information, or to speak directly to Stuart Black, please contact him on one of the following:

Stuart Black

07796 266 377

[email protected]

James Bluett is willing to speak to the media, please contact Stuart Black to arrange this. *Darren Morgan” is a pseudonym used on request of his parents, and is not available for further comment.

This YouTube link provides a 60 second summary of Neurofeedback –

For a longer explanation see this 23 minute YouTube video  –

About Stuart Black

Stuart Black is the founder and Managing Director of BrainTrain UK, He obtained a BSc degree in Electronic Engineering from King’s College London and his Master’s in Coaching & Development from Portsmouth Business School. Stuart has worked in various roles and industries, management consultancy, and worked as an Executive Director of the Cromwell Hospital from 2009 to 2012.

His interest in the intersection of technology and healthcare led him to Neurofeedback and the creation of BrainTrainUK to enable wider access to Neurofeedback for therapy and peak performance.

About Neurofeedback

Neurofeedbackis not new. As early as 1958 it was first shown that the brain could respond to brainwave feedback. But for many years the equipment was highly complex, large and located in university research laboratories. This made it inconvenient for patients and cost millions to own and operate. And video game technology was non-existent, or very basic, and so the feedback experience was not stimulating for the patient.

However digital technology has changed the game. Now portable equipment is available that costs thousands, not millions, and can run on standard PCs (which have become more powerful themselves).

Application to therapy covers a wide variety of symptoms associated with disregulation of the central nervous system, including ADHD, ASD, anxiety and PTSD,

About BrainTrainUK

BrainTrainUK, established in 2013, brings the latest neurofeedback technology to the UK and aims to transform the treatment of symptoms such as ADHD. With practices already in Harley Street, Battersea, Surrey and Hertfordshire, the company has plans to expand throughout the UK.

About the Biofeedback Federation of Europe

The Biofeedback Federation of Europe is a non-profit community interest company located in the UK.  Our mission is to promote a greater awareness of the field among professionals and to educate and train them in the use of the latest biofeedback techniques and technology.

The federation’s advisory board comprises leading clinicians and researchers from multiple disciplines who share a common interest in the dissemination of information about this rapidly growing field.

Neurofeedback in Action at BrainTrainUKNeurofeedback in action at BrainTrainUK Egham – high resolution photo here –

[7] The Evidence-Base for Neurofeedback as a  Reimbursable Healthcare Service to Treat Attention  Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder by H. Edmund Pigott, Ph.D.,and Lindsay  De Biase, Ph.D.,b and Eugenia Bodenhamer-Davis, Ph.D.c & Richard E.  Davis, M.S.d –