The brain is an incredibly intricate organ, and in order to carry out all of its complex tasks, it relies on electrical signals that interface with the central nervous system. These signals provide control for all of the various parts of the body, including parts that operate autonomically. From your breathing to your heart beat and everything in between, proper electrical function must be in place for your body and brain to work in harmony.
When this relationship is damaged, whether through an injury to the brain or from a degenerative condition, you may begin to lose function and control over your body. To make matters worse, some brain injuries are serious and can limit the ability to regulate autonomic functions, potentially leading to death. In order to pinpoint and repair a broken relationship between the brain and the body, medical technology using neurofeedback is available and can even re-train the brain to bypass injuries.
How Does Neurofeedback Work?
Sometimes referred to as biofeedback, neurofeedback utilizes an electroencephalogram (EEG) to monitor electrical signals in the brain. This technology can see where connectivity issues exist and determine the level at which problems are occurring. Once identified, damaged connectors are re-trained using audio and visual signals that are presented to the affected individual. The goal is to utilize the brain’s own mapping abilities to re-route signals away from damaged areas and allow them to reach new connections to return function to normal levels.
Who Benefits From Neurofeedback?
As mentioned, individuals who have suffered traumatic brain injuries may be candidates for this type of treatment, but it is also used in treating people with attention-deficit disorder, seizure disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, insomnia and developmental delays. Essentially, any type of brain disorder that is the result of improper electrical signal processing could potentially be a candidate for neurofeedback therapy.
Does Medicare Cover Neurofeedback?
Medicare benefits do provide coverage for neurofeedback treatment in many cases, but it may be based on individual and unique needs. Coverage rates may vary depending on the reason for neurofeedback therapy, and how the billing is coded can also have a large impact on the benefits provided. When covered, Medicare recipients receive neurofeedback therapy under Part B as it is an outpatient service, although if provided while admitted to a hospital or skilled nursing facility, the treatment may be covered under Medicare Part A. Part D of Medicare’s benefits would not apply as neurofeedback does not directly involve prescription medications.
The age of the patient may also play a factor in coverage since certain neurological conditions requiring treatment are found more often in children than in older adults who are more likely to be Medicare recipients. Because of this, Medicare may not apply to a specific situation because a child would not be covered under Medicare, but instead, he or she may be eligible for medical coverage under a state-specific health program for minors.
Neurofeedback in Conjunction With Physical Therapy
In many cases, neurofeedback will also require the patient to undergo physical therapy in addition to the re-training of the brain. This may also be a prerequisite of receiving Medicare benefits coverage. Medicare does, in most cases, cover physical therapy, especially when it is prescribed in addition to treatment for a serious illness or while recovering from a serious injury. In cases involving injury due to a neurological condition, such as when a fall has occurred due to an epileptic seizure, the patient may also need to undergo rehabilitative therapy in addition to neurofeedback treatment. Some medications may also be added to aid in the processing of electrical signals, either by slowing them down or speeding them up to assist the brain in re-routing.