CASE STUDY: Neuroscience for individual well-being
Does a clinical neuroscience intervention work for youth with ambitions that don’t seem to be getting there? It does if you are in the right hands of professionals who offer personalised treatments.
It’s never one shoe fits all to the NBI which is becoming a first port of call of HR managers and troubled parents. This was proved recently with David Adams* a twenty-seven year-old who felt he had no future. He couldn’t hold down a job and battled with daily interpersonal relationships and clashed with office team members. No crash course in emotional intelligence would have given him the quality relationships he craved and the productivity the workplace demanded. HR managers would have boxed this into one label – lack of EQ as the first intervention for change. To NBI every case is unique. EQ would have been a nice to have. A well-trained neuro clinical team is a must-have. Here is David’s story.
It was his father who reached out for help to Dr Denise Bjorkman (NBI Chief Executive). A significant achiever himself, he played for the country in select sports and also distinguished himself with a leading MBA and a flawless career in marketing. He and David shared a close relationship. From this vantage point he could see that David exhibited a deep sense of low self-worth. He felt helpless. The usual rounds of doctors and therapists left the situation unchanged. There were moments when David’s intelligence and insights into situations flashed through like a torch in the dark but they just as rapidly disappeared. His father saw potential. Time with his son over 27 years gave him that inside track.
David’s coping mechanisms with life in general were also compromised. His lack of motivation and drive became more apparent. He began to withdraw from hobbies, sports and interests he had previously enjoyed. He was lethargic and made poor general lifestyle choices. His sleep patterns were irregular, with frequent nightmares, and he swung between aggressive behaviour, anxiety attacks and bouts of depression. He was prescribed Concerto help him focus. In his case it did very little.
Denise believed strongly that the depth and scope of his various symptoms could best be dealt with by a neuroscience intervention, but in appropriate hands. She consulted with her colleague, Prof Peet du Toit (Prof. Peet is head of the Neuroscience Group at University of Pretoria). They both felt that a customised intervention might help David, his family and his potential workplace. David was appropriately referred. The scope and depth of Prof. Peet’s offerings promised more than hope.
After an original evaluation of David, Prof. Peet introduced a battery of assessments for David: overall health, physical skills and brain fitness. Benchmarked pre-testing determined the point of departure, and an intensive series of neuroscientific interventions were scheduled to be conducted over four weeks. The sequence was important. Prof. Peet a respected scientist, followed scrupulous protocol in his differential diagnosis and interventions. Every facet of the case study was recorded for research purposes and also peer review.
The results were released, published under the auspices of Monarch Business School (Switzerland):
The program was designed to include intervention exercises concerning all three categories of assessment. Throughout the 4-week intervention phase health-related fitness interventions were completed for 20 – 90 min per day and skill-related fitness interventions were completed for 18 – 30 min per day. The intervention schedule also included prescribed brain training exercises which were performed for 18 – 30 min per day.
During the intervention phase the participant underwent Infra-Slow Frequency (ISF) neurofeedback training with a qualified consultant. ISF neurofeedback refers to training the very slowest brainwaves (less than .5Hz). These basic cortical rhythms of the brain underlie our higher brain functions. The slower frequencies are linked to the faster ones through harmonics, this means that by training the lower frequencies you can affect the higher ones.
Brain fitness was one of the first elements to show progress which continued to improve daily. David’s overall well-being followed. David’s self worth began emerging again. After four sessions, regular sleep started to return. His fatigue diminished as did temperamental outbursts. After eight sessions, healthy sleeping patterns became a habit. The removal of Concerta from daily medications was the next step. This had no negative side effects. After the fifteenth session, all his initial symptoms had been resolved. David has returned to his studies, and is getting his life back on track. More tests in a controlled environment showed proof positive David’s brain fitness was very significant.
David’s case is not isolated. How many companies are there which have experienced under performers in their midst letting down the team? Sometimes this progression defies original testing which offered much promise. At NBI we spend a lot of time talking with clients about how applied neuroscience impacts business, our relationships with clients, consumers and one another as people. This case study demonstrates the importance of family nurturing against compelling odds and the importance of HR officers casting the net wider for solutions with problem staff. David can now hold down university studies and a job. Fundamentally though, the biggest impact a greater knowledge and understanding of neuroscience can have is on individual quality of life.
* Not his real name
Research paper attached: