Justice on Alternative ADHD Treatments
by anthony guerriero on February 27, 2013 - 10:38pm
I fell upon a news article by Elizabeth Lopatto entitled “Drugs don’t help ADHD in little kids” posted on February 16 2013 on The StarPheonix’s website for Blooming News. As a health science student, it is puzzling to know that we don’t provide proper treatment for children diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. This got me wondering about different alternatives to medical treatments related to the condition. I researched the topic and found two scholarly articles that relate to the main issue. The first is an article “Long term ADHD drug treatment” Volume 13 published in July of 2011 by Brown University Child & Adolescent Psychopharmacology Update. The second article is from the Journal of Research on Technology in Education entitled “Brain Games as a Potential Nonpharmaceutical Alternative for the Treatment of ADHD” by Stacy C. Wegrzyn, Doug Hearrington, Tim Martin and Adriane B. Randolph published in 2012. The specific issue is that doctors are inefficiently treating ADHD patients who need help.
The academic disciplines that I will be comparing are Psychopharmacology and neuropsychology respectively. Medicine branches out into many different academic studies, one of which is psychopharmacology. The idea of medicine is to treat or prevent a condition or disease through medicine or surgery. Psychopharmacists study drugs and substances that have psychoactive properties that alter the function of cells in the human body related to mood. Neuropsychology is the study of the brain’s structure that relates to psychological processes and behaviors.
According to a study done by Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adult Psychiatry in Lopatto’s news post, 186 children with ADHD were monitored for 6 years after their diagnosis. They were prescribed long-term dosages of drugs during the study. 90% of the children still had ADHD symptoms including lack of impulse control and inattentiveness. Another number of children who were part of the study were treated with drugs for several months and then referred back to their community physicians. 58% of these children continued to have ADHD symptoms. The article goes on to say that 3 to 5 % of preschoolers are affected by ADHD, most of which are boys. According to NIH, most of these children will have an increased likelihood of having difficulty to keep up a job and becoming drug and alcohol abusers later on.
In Brown’s article, most of the same arguments are made. The main difference is that the article goes into more depth, stating that drugs can be used to treat patients with ADHD if done properly. The study suggests that taking the medicine in weekly intervals as opposed to taking the medicine daily will increase the likelihood of treatment. They were able to obtain these results through long-term prescriptions of medicine and placebo pills.
“Brain Games as a Potential Nonpharmaceutical Alternative for the Treatment of ADHD” is a journal about a different approach to ADHD treatment. It states that ADHD is the most common neurobehavioral diagnoses amongst children. 66% of these 5.5 million children use medication as a form of treatment. Based on Ryuta Kawashima’s studies, activities such as “rapid mathematical calculations and reading aloud” can improve the activity in the parts of the brain that are connected to social behavior. Nintendo has found a way to merge together these two concepts into a fun game called Brain Age for the Nintendo DS. The game is an effective treatment because it stimulates the same parts of the brain that the medicine would. In addition, it trains children to improve their ability to engage with others, something medicine cannot do. The study followed only 10 students who were put through different scientific tests that evaluated pretreatment, post treatment and follow up activity. Seven of the nine tests prove that using games as an alternative to medical treatment is effective.
There was a note at the bottom of the “Brain Games” journal asking people to share their finding with others who want to treat their ADHD. I think that we can take from this much more than just ADHD treatment. We must demand more alternatives when it comes to treating different illnesses and conditions. The most basic example I can think of is cancer and chemotherapy. One of my friends has cancer and 5 tumors in his body. He was diagnosed at stage 3 (stage 4 being death) of his illness and was treated with chemotherapy to stage1. I am very happy that he was able to recover but seeing him go through painful procedures was hard for himself and everyone around him. Though it is a commonly treatable type of cancer, I still think we should push and invest into research when it comes to treating people with any illness or condition.