OMG– this is BIG

Yesterday the FDA approved the first (of probably many) brain wave tests to aid in diagnosing ADHD in children (of COURSE it’s all about children first!).

The new, non-invasive testing (which takes about 20 minutes) is to be used in conjunction with traditional clinical assessment. It does not replace the all-important clinical intake and assessment of symptoms.

The Neuropsychiatric EEG-Based Assessment Aid (NEBA) System is based on a regular EEG (electroencephalogram) and will contrast theta and beta waves of ADHD children up to age 17 with those of normal baseline results. “The theta/beta ratio has been shown to be higher in children and adolescents with ADHD than in children without it,” according to the FDA press release.

This is a giant leap forward. It is exactly what the NIMH (National Institutes of Mental Health) wanted instead of the symptom-based categories of the new DSM V- the diagnostic standard for US psychologists and physicians. The NIMH said we need more evidenced based criteria for diagnoses instead of subjective symptom reporting.

All in all, a good day for ADHD – take that cynics who pooh-pooh the diagnosis. And yay for some kind of standardized testing of ADHD – a boost for those of use filing insurance claims, fighting family ridicule and trying to get accommodations at work.

OK. When do the adults get to jump into this NEBA testing? Soon, I hope. But a 2009 study showed differences in EEG patterns among adults with ADHD compared to children with ADHD. The interpretation of results from the NEBA would likely be adjusted for adults, but that’s another post. At least today let’s cheer on the FDA for allowing some kind of measurable testing …or is this a bad thing? Will some people with ADHD diagnoses be outside the ADHD limits of the NEBA ? Ah, too early to tell. Stay tuned.


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