Seeking greater clarity and insights about NeuroChamps

(This exclusive interview first appeared here on Domain of Singapore Tutoring Experts on 2 April 2015.)

How does one transform the life of a child who suffers from ADHD or an autism spectrum disorder such as Asperger's Syndrome for the better? NeuroChamps offers a full suite of solutions, which range from the carrying out of front-end diagnostics to the employment of biochemistry altering techniques. Founded by Dr Kenneth Kang in 2012, the outfit boasts a stellar team of trained neurotherapists who administer various techniques to enhance both brain function and cognitive ability. We recently got in touch with a member of the team, Miss Joyce Cheng, and sought to learn more about their treatment philosophy.

QN: Hi there Jooyce, greatly appreciate you spending some time to talk to us. You have been cited as being both a qualified hypnotherapist and neurotherapist; what is required of the individual who wishes to go through the door at NeuroChamps?

ANS: To practise as a neurotherapist here at Neurochamps, one has to have at least a degree in Psychology. You will then have to go through a six months internship programme completing 300 supervised therapy hours. You will also have to attend an in-house 2-day neurofeedback therapist course. Upon completion of your internship you will then start practising on a part-time basis.

QN: As far as we understand, your team troubleshoots problematic areas by means of two solution pathways-one being qEEG (electroencephalogram)-based Neurofeedback training and the other known as individualised biochemistry intervention. To the layperson, they sound rather intimidating. Could you give our readers the lowdown on how these methods work, and what do they seek to correct?

ANS: Most problems or issues are diagnosed from observable behaviour or through the administration of interviews and questionnaires. We at NeuroChamps focus on holistic and scientifically proven approaches where we actually look at possible causes and contributing factors from within an individual.

Through a qEEG or “Brain Mapping” which is an assessment tool that measures brainwave activities that help us evaluate how one’s brain function and understand the learning characteristics of an individual. It provides us with a map for designing an individualised brain exercise programme using neurofeedback.

Nutritional imbalance, exposure to toxicity and other biochemistry factors could also lead to behavioural issues and learning difficulties.

Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis (HTMA) is an analytical test which measures the mineral content of the hair. A comprehensive interpretive test report provides an indication of one’s mineral status, toxic metal accumulation or exposure and metabolic dysfunction. It is an easy and painless procedure.

One can then address probable contributing factors either through dietary changes, nutritional supplements, eliminate environmental exposure to improve their overall biochemical imbalance.

QN: How long does the rehabilitation process typically last at NeuroChamps? Are there are any exceptions?

ANS: We usually see positive improvements after 4-6 months of regular intervention. For severe or more complicated cases, we might have to look at long term intervention.

QN: It's been emerging amongst certain scientific communities that Neurofeedback can in fact treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), strokes, addictions, migraines or mood disorders such as depression and anxiety. How strong a believer are you in such an opinion? Does your experience at NeuroChamps validate this assertion, ie would you say Neurofeedback actually cures, or it merely makes the client feel more comfortable through alleviation of various symptoms?

ANS: In 2012, the American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) recognised neurofeedback, an evidenced based intervention, as being as effective as medication for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) which places neurofeedback as a Level 1 “Best Support” intervention for ADHD.

At NeuroChamps, being a brain based centre providing non-invasive and non-drug intervention programmes, we have had much success with ADHD, ASD, epilepsy, dyslexia, mood regulation and a wide range of cognitive disorders.

Neurofeedback is a form of brain exercise, that helps to regulate abnormal or dysregulated brain wave activities, through operant conditioning or rewarding modality.

To understand brain wave dysregulation, one must understand a little on brain waves. There are 4 main brain waves. Delta or slow waves are usually produced when we are asleep. Theta or dreamy waves are produced just when we are falling asleep. Alpha waves are produced when we are relax and Beta waves are produced whilst we are on task or focused.

When a person experiences brain waves dysregulation, which may be caused by many factors, their brain wave patterns become abnormal. For example, if a child is producing more Delta waves instead of Beta waves, he might not be able to pay attention or stay focused in class. People who produce too much beta waves or fast waves generally experience anxiety, stress or hyperactivity. Hence each abnormal brain wave pattern is associated with different symptoms and behaviour.

With neurofeedback, our individually designed protocols for this guided brain exercise is used to help one normalise brainwave patterns through operant conditioning or rewarding modality.

Neurofeedback helps one re-establish the correct brain wave activities at the appropriate time in an appropriate incident. Once established it will be permanent, similarly you will not forget how to cycle once the skill has been acquired.

QN: How does Neurofeedback compare to, say more invasive medical procedures, efficacy-wise? If Neurofeedback works oh so very well, is there a need for medical literature to be rewritten?

ANS: It must be noted that neurofeedback is non-invasive and has absolutely no side effects whatsoever. Neurofeedback has been around for more than four decades and there are already many studies done on the efficacy of neurofeedback with plenty of literature on it available.

QN: On the other hand, there are the naysayers who denounce Neurofeedback as complete hogwash, a fad which will fade and be replaced by something else more in vogue. What is your response to that?

ANS: Considering that neurofeedback has been around for so long and with better technology and advancement in equipment and continuous efforts of researchers, it is evident that neurofeedback is here to stay as our local hospitals are adopting neurofeedback for stroke patients and other cognitive disorders.

With the affirmation of neuroplasticity, ie that the brain has the ability to retrain and rewire itself, neurofeedback offers much hope those with cognitive disorders in terms of improving cognitive functions.

QN: Your biochemistry intervention approach by means of introducing nutritional supplements and making changes to one's dietary habits is nothing short of interesting. How exactly do you refine the "eat well, live well" mantra to suit the individual's circumstances? Do you conduct tests to ascertain the micro-nutrient departments one is lacking in before making recommendations?

ANS: As mentioned in my reply to the very first question, with the HTMA report, we will be able to establish the necessary dietary habit changes or nutritional intervention. There are many factors that could contribute to one’s mineral imbalance. Be it due to improper diet, medication, pollution, stress or predisposition and how the minerals influence and interrelate with one another.

Everyone has a different body composition, genetic predisposition and environmental exposure. There’s no one solution that fits all.

One man’s meat might be another’s poison hence the notion of “eat well, live well” will be very subjective and individualised.

QN: You carry a line of nutritional supplements known as Trace Nutrients. In fact a whole page on your website has been dedicated to them, unfortunately the write-up contains a hefty load of jargon which would probably only confuse the average man on the street. Perhaps you might like to articulate things in simpler terms?

ANS: The recommended implementation of the supplement programme is to assist an individual in alleviating his/her potential continued manifestation of symptoms due to biochemical imbalances.

For example, a disturbance in the normal balance of calcium and magnesium can result in abnormal muscular contraction and relaxation. As such one might experience cramps.

Zinc is involved in the production, storage and secretion of insulin and is necessary for the synthesis of growth hormones. A low level of Zinc might compromise one’s immune system.

Magnesium is required for normal muscular function, especially the heart. A deficiency has been associated with an increased incidence of abnormal heart conditions, anxiety and nervousness.

Potassium is critical for normal transport of materials into the living cell. A deficiency can result in muscular weakness, mild depression and lethargy.

Excess sodium is associated with hypertension, but adequate amounts are required for normal health.

QN: What is the demographic make-up of your clientele? Are they mostly kids or do you also encounter a significant amount of adults? Which problems are most common amongst those you see?

ANS: Majority of our clients are mainly children with special needs such as ADHD, ASD, GDD and Dyslexia. We do also have children and adults with epilepsy, mood disorders and insomnia as well as those who desire to enhance their peak performance consulting us.

QN: Your profile on the company website also lists you as an active volunteer in the geriatric community as well as family and youth counselling outside of work. Have these endeavors seek to reinforce your personal premise that NeuroChamps is a show that must go on for a very long while?

ANS: My involvement as a volunteer started way before I was with NeuroChamps. I now have a platform to learn and seek more holistic alternative interventions and wellness programmes for both myself and the community.

QN: This is definitely one question any seriously keen individual would ask prior to signing up. How much does each session cost, and how many sessions are required on average to see results?

ANS: One has to go through a preview and preliminary evaluation process prior to considering taking up an appropriate assessment and intervention programme.

As our programmes are tailored to meet individual needs, we would appreciate if interested parties contact us directly for a preview and demo appointment.

QN: Where does NeuroChamps see itself, say five years down the road? Any plans to expand the current menu of treatment options, or to upgrade existing facilities and hardware?

ANS: NeuroChamps will continue to innovate in terms of hardware/software and equipment. Our therapists are continuously upgrading their skills and acquiring new knowledge through attending various courses and workshops.

We hope to establish ourselves as a one stop multidisciplinary holistic and wellness intervention centre eventually.

QN: How about a few final words of advice for our readers?

Early intervention is paramount to ensure we maximise a child’s cognitive, emotional, social and physical development. Never procrastinate.

It's been most enlightening chatting with you Jooyce, we wish both you and NeuroChamps the very best, and may your team continue to brighten up the lives of many more! :)