Encephalopathy and Neuroinflammation

Encephalopathy is damage or disease that affects the brain, causing changes in its structure or in the way our brain functions and processes information. Encephalopathy can be caused by an infection, brain tumor, toxin exposure, poor nutrition, metabolic or mitochondrial dysfunction, lack of oxygen and blood flow to the brain, severe neglect in childhood, trauma, and chronic neuroinflammation. Chronic neuroinflammation is an inflammatory response in the brain and or spinal cord that can be triggered by factors such as aging, injury, toxin exposure, head trauma, environmental factors, alcohol or drug abuse, diabetes, inflammatory bowel conditions, and more. 

Chronic neuroinflammation can lead to encephalopathy, but symptoms differ for both conditions. Symptoms of encephalopathy include personality changes, tremors, muscle atrophy, cognitive and memory deficits, seizures, and lower arousal levels. Symptoms of chronic neuroinflammation can differ depending on which brain region is being affected. Brain fog, brain fatigue, mental confusion, loss of brain function, chronic pain, and depression are some symptoms that are linked to chronic neuroinflammation. 

Many NFL athletes suffer from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and post-concussion syndrome (PCS) due to repetitive blows to the brain during games. A clinical study was done to investigate CTE in American football players and found that 99% of them were neuropathologically diagnosed with CTE. Symptoms of cognitive impairment, emotional instability, dementia, and short-term memory loss are severe symptoms that can heavily impact their performance and health during games. Athletes used neurofeedback to help treat symptoms including mental fog, trauma, fatigue, depression, trauma, and more. Neurofeedback helps to adjust any disruptive wave patterns through repetition and reinforcement to help bring the brain back to its optimal state.

Biofeedback has been shown to improve memory disorders in patients during the recovery stage of acute severe toxic encephalopathy by improving tasks such association, comprehension, reproduction, and memorization. Neurofeedback and biofeedback are commonly paired treatment plans for patients recovering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy because targeting both the heart and brain simultaneously can enhance treatment.

There is a misconception that neuroinflammation only occurs if one has experienced a head trauma or brain injury, but neuroinflammation can appear from non-traumatic events such as medication, immunizations, surgery, depression, and chronic stress. Chronic stress is a common trigger for neuroinflammation which can lead to anxiety, depression-like behaviors, and can cause cognitive and emotional dysregulation. Neuroinflammation is a serious condition and needs to be treated as soon as it has been detected. If left untreated, it can rapidly degenerate the brain which increases the risk of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s disease. 

Neurofeedback can help treat inflammation and its symptoms such as headaches, brain fog, and any difficulties with concentration. Biofeedback relaxation therapy can help as well to reduce and regulate symptoms of chronic stress and depression. Factors that can also help prevent against neuroinflammation include a healthy diet, exercising, getting adequate sleep, and resolving symptoms of depression. Decreasing depression helps to reduce the neuroinflammation, and neurofeedback is used to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression by improving brain waves. 

Encephalopathy and chronic neuroinflammation heavily impact the brain and how it functions which affects day-to-day living. Neurofeedback and biofeedback is used to help patients with encephalopathy and neuroinflammation to help improve their symptoms by retraining the brain to a baseline of functioning and retraining the way the brain organizes itself. At BiofeedbackWORKS, we have technological resources/equipment, an in-depth knowledge of neuropsychology and brain function, as well as dedicated staff with several years of experience and professional licenses in the field of behavioral health to help your recovery process in every way possible. 


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Jessica Eure, LPNC, BCN & Ronald J. Swatzyna PhD, LCSW, BCN, BCB Presentation: QEEG Findings and Neurofeedback Interventions: Chronic Infections, Toxic Exposures and Autoimmune Disorders

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Ronald J. Swatzyna, PhD, LCSW, BCN, BCB Presentation: Neuroinflammation Disease, Injury, Infection, or Stress

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