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Medication-Free Therapies Proven Successful in ADHD Treatment

Tuesday, February 19, 2008 by: Cathy Sherman
Tags: ADHD, health news, Natural News

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(NewsTarget) Outside-the-box thinkers are achieving success with ADHD children using therapies that do not involve drugs. In a world where many parents do not want their children on meds because of the dangerous long-term effects, this is good news.

A US board-certified neurologist and psychiatrist, Dr. Amnon Gimpel, recently published a book that explains and teaches his program. His comprehensive, eclectic approach has proven to be effective with school children as well as with teens in drug treatment.

Gimpel begins on the basis that the brains in people with ADHD are different from those who don't show the same behavior symptoms. The brain's perifrontal lobe which controls executive functions such as attention, judgment, and reflection is 8 to 14 percent smaller in those with ADHD. Their cerebral cortex, which plays a central role in memory and attention, is six percent thinner. Because of the smaller size of these areas, some of their functions are switched to other parts of the brain. A positive result is greater creativity on the part of some ADHD people.

Another condition thought to cause ADHD is a lack of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Drugs such as Ritalin are often prescribed to counteract that lack. Such drug therapy helps temporarily but only as long as the person takes the drug. The 1990's Multimodal Treatment Study of Children with ADHD concluded that after three years on such ADHD drugs as Concerta and Ritalin, there was no demonstrable benefit. Worse yet, the drugs may undermine a child's physical growth and may increase heart rate and blood pressure, which could lead to increased cardiac risks. It is also thought that these risks may be different for adults and children, but more evidence is needed about these meds' long-term effects.

Dr. Gimpel's more permanent approach is to use certain therapies to increase the brain mass such that new pathways are created. He uses physical activities that build up motor skills and balance. These include aerobics, swimming, skating and running, and even boxing, for one of his teens. It has been shown that children are more receptive to the casual approach of a sports coach after school than to the more structured classroom teacher.

A second part of his approach includes brain exercises or games. For example, playing chess increases
memory and stretches concentration spans.

A different form of Gimpel's exercise helps kids differentiate between their emotions and the actual events that triggered the emotions. Because these children have trouble expressing themselves, especially in regard to feelings, they internalize scolding and take on the resulting negativity. Teaching of social skills gives the child a sense of control where he can confront the scolding by expressing his feelings.

The parent plays a crucial role in Gimpel's therapy so he devotes a good share of treatment time to training them. Since as many as 80 percent of the parents have ADHD, they must learn coping behaviors and social skills as well. Their training in social, emotional, and cognitive skills prepares the parents to serve as coaches. In this role, they help their child to improve brain function by sharpening thinking skills; to grow in life skills, such as problem solving and negotiation; and to engage in vigorous mental and physical exercise.

Gimpel's program, currently being run in Israel which his native home, has been increasingly popular. Partially funded by a government health fund, it saves money on medication and on emergency room costs, since ADHD children are more accident prone.

Another medication-free program showing success with ADHD children started in Britain and is now being offered in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles and Phoenix. Like Gimpel, Program developer Wynford Dore began with the premise that rather than masking symptoms, the root cause of the problem should be targeted.

To do this he uses individually tailored eye, balance, and sensory exercises designed to develop the
cerebellum and restore good connections to the cerebrum. These exercises are performed at home five to ten minutes twice daily, combined with center visits every six weeks. The exercises can be as simple as balancing on an exercise ball or standing on one foot for several minutes. The program has also been successful for those with dyslexia and Asperger's.

Since ADHD has been diagnosed or suspected in three to twelve percent of American children (depending on whose stats you read), such results as those of Gimpel and Dore promise to positively impact the proof that drugs are not the answer.


Gimpel, Amnon; Brain Exercises To Cure ADHD. BookSurge Publishing, 2007.


About the author

Cathy Sherman is a freelance writer with a major interest in natural health and in encouraging others to take responsibility for their health. She can be reached through www.devardoc.com.

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