Amy Putney of Waterloo is one of only about five people in the state of Iowa specializing in neurofeedback, which is a tool used to train brain function.
It's largely used for people with Attention Deficit Disorder, but Putney said it can also help with other behavior disorders.
Amy Putney has had two neurofeedback sessions with 13-year-old Bo Bartlett. He suffers from what Putney calls classic ADD, meaning his frontal lobe is "sleepy". Putney said the frontal lobe is responsible for focus, concentration and attention. She's using neurofeedback to train Bo's brain to not be so "sleepy."
"There's some spots in my brain, where it's not working as well. My brain's a little asleep, so it's trying to wake it up and it'll help me do much better in school," said Bo Bartlett.
Bo Bartlett wears a "hat" during sessions that reads the brain waves, which get sent to a computer and then to a television. Amy Putney knows where Bo's brain waves should be based on database of kids of a similar age, gender and dominant hand. Bo's brain has to work to keep a movie playing on the screen. When it flickers to black, his brain recognizes it has to work harder to keep the images on the screen.
After about 15 sessions of neurofeedback, Bo shouldn't feel as much impact from his ADD.
"Ideally we want to see him functioning better this school year. We want to see his grades improving. We want to see school being easier for him so he's not working so hard to do what others are doing," said Putney.
Putney first learned about neurofeedback from her father. She said he was the first person in Iowa to use this technology.
"He sought an alternative for my younger brother who was struggling with attention issues," said Putney.
Based on her brother's experience, and from what she saw in her previous profession as a high school English teacher in Waterloo, Putney got trained in neurofeedback to make a difference in people's lives.
She said many of those participating in her program have low self-esteem, and it's her goal to help them.
"Instead of feeling like you're not really smart, you can see the brain is not functioning properly. That's huge," said Putney.
Putney stresses neurofeedback is not a quick fix or even a guarantee, but she believes she can help children and adults with behavior disorders function better.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recently endorsed neurofeedback as a treatment for ADD.
Amy Putney said it's not for everyone, but she hopes people take the time to learn a little more about it. You can click here for more information.