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Neurofeedback and Peripheral Neuropathy

Posted 4/13/2016

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  Peripheral neuropathy can be one of the most difficult side effects of chemotherapy. Most often related to the Taxanes, this refers to a set of symptoms due to damaged nerves that control sensation and movement of our arms and legs (and, therefore, our hands and feet).

  Some people who receive these drugs have no difficulties and others experience permanent damage. Per ACS, the symptoms include:  

  • Pain (which may be there all the time or come and go, like shooting or stabbing pain)
  • Burning
  • Tingling (“pins and needles” feeling) or electric/shock-like pain
  • Loss of feeling (which can be numbness or just less ability to sense pressure, touch, heat, or cold)
  • Trouble using your fingers to pick up or hold things; dropping things
  • Balance problems
  • Trouble with tripping or stumbling while walking
  • Being more sensitive to cold or heat
  • Being more sensitive to touch or pressure
  • Shrinking muscles
  • Muscle weakness
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Constipation
  • Trouble passing urine
  • Blood pressure changes
  • Decreased or no reflexes

These sensations can interfere with things like buttoning a shirt, picking up a cup of hot coffee, and even walking.

  There are a number of strategies to try to improve these symptoms, but there is no panacea. Suggestions usually include various medications, sometimes vitamins, acupuncture, PT, and OT. Now there is a study indicating that neurofeedback may be very helpful to some people.

  From Cure Today comes this article:

Neurofeedback Reduces Pain Associated With Peripheral
Neuropathy From Chemotherapy

Cate Douglass

Chemotherapy can have a number of side effects on patients with cancer, including chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN), which affects the majority of patients. According to a recent study by researchers at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, the
pain associated with this condition can be reduced by neurofeedback.
“Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy is very common in patients with cancer, and there is currently only one medication approved to treat it,” noted lead study author Sarah Prinsloo, PhD, in a statement. Prinsloo is an assistant professor of palliative, rehabilitation and
integrative medicine at MD Anderson. “I’m encouraged to see the significant improvements in patients’ quality of life after treatment. This treatment is customized to the individual, and is relatively inexpensive, noninvasive and non-addictive.”
The study, which was presented at the recent annual meeting of the American Psychosomatic Society, enrolled 71 patients who scored higher than three on the National Cancer Institute’s neuropathy rating scale. The majority of participants, 52 of them, were women with breast cancer; eight had a gynecologic cancer diagnosis, and the remaining 11 had other cancer types. The participants had an EEG and completed validated pain and symptom assessments, including the Brief Pain Inventory and the Pain Quality Assessment Scale, at baseline and after 10 weeks of treatment.
Patients were evenly randomized to either the neurofeedback arm or a waitlist control group. Neurofeedback is a method of brain training that induces neuroplasticity—the ability of the brain to form new connections and change existing ones.
For this study, researchers located the areas in the brain that contribute to the physical and emotional aspects of pain. With these identifiers, patients could modify their own brain activity through electroencephalogram (EEG) biofeedback, a device that tracks and records brainwave
patterns through small metal discs with thin wires that are attached to the scalp and connect to a computer for results.

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