NATIONAL ADHD 4 YEAR FINGER LABYRINTH STUDY IS COMPLETE

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Parents as well as teachers & therapists working with ADHD-diagnosed children and adolescents were wanted for a non-medication, alternative therapy, 6-week research study. Children taking medication for ADHD and those currently not doing so were eligible. This study took place across the US in children's homes, schools and therapist offices.

 

OVERVIEW
It is estimated that 3-5% of school-age children in the US are diagnosed with ADHD, making this the most commonly diagnosed psycho-social disorder in childhood (Shaw, 2007).  The DSM IV-R outlines three general categories of symptoms that are characteristic of this condition; hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention.
Over the past 15 years, compelling anecdotal reports were made to Relax4Life from teachers introducing children to the Intuipath® double finger labyrinth design (a mirror-image, inlaid wood labyrinth design involving the use of both hands simultaneously moving in opposite directions.)  Reportedly following recess periods, children using the Intuipath® appeared to calm down quickly which led to better attention span, mental focus and greater impulse control.  It has been suggested previously that the Intuipath® design stimulates both sides of the brain simultaneously, thereby pairing reasoning, problem solving and language skills (left hemisphere) with intuition and creativity (right hemisphere).  This effect, known as Brain Synchrony, creates a preponderance of alpha and theta brainwave states, leading to enhanced mental relaxation (Fehmi & Fritz, 1980; Hutchison, 1994; Harris, 2002).
Discussions with Occupational & Physical Therapists strongly indicate that simultaneously engaging both sides of the brain (by moving limbs from both sides of the body simultaneously, creating Brain Synchrony) can lead to functional brain pathways in one hemisphere, finding ways to take over the workload of weak or dysfunctional pathways in the same or opposite hemisphere.  Furthermore, mental relaxation (brought on by Brain Synchrony) is one of the keys to children developing and demonstrating greater adaptive responses and choices to various environmental stimuli.  This ability is known as Sensory Integration (Ayres, 1979).
The research question was whether children diagnosed with ADHD or ADD with Hyperactivity, who use an Intuipath® finger labyrinth (to develop mental relaxation brought on by Brain Synchrony) for a specified amount of time, will show a reduction in the behavioral symptoms associated with this condition (hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention) over ADHD-diagnosed children who engage in a similar activity for the same amount of time. 

 
Methodology:
Participating children, (ages 7-17) diagnosed with ADHD or ADD with Hyperactivity, will be categorized based on whether or not they are currently taking medication for the condition.  Those currently not undergoing behavior-altering medication therapy (or who have ceased behavior-altering medication therapy a month or more before) will make up Groups 1 & 2.  Those currently taking behavior-altering medication for the condition will comprise Groups 3 & 4. 
Children in Groups 1 and 3 will be verbally trained (by a parent, teacher or therapist using a standard script) on how to “play” simultaneously (using a finger from each hand) with a Children's Cretan Intuipath® design. Study participants will be supervised in this activity at approximately the same time each day, for 5 minutes per session, from 3-5 times/week for 4 consecutive weeks.  This unstained material affords a light sandy tactile sensation in the finger grooves and therefore is felt to be a tactile-rich way to engage these children in the activity.  Children in Groups 2 & 4 will receive a tray filled with an inch or more of sand and will be briefly instructed (by a parent, teacher or therapist using a standard script) to move a finger of both hands through the sand anyway they want at approximately the same time each day, for a period of 5 minutes, 3-5 times/week for 4 consecutive weeks.
A behavioral observation rating scale (the ADHD-SRS, Holland, Gimpel & Merrell, 2001) that focuses on the severity of the targeted behaviors (attention span, impulse control, mental focus and the ability to sit quietly) will be filled out by either a parent, teacher or therapist on each child before the study begins, at the end of the 4-week treatment phase and again at 6 weeks to determine any continuing effects.  The rating scale consists of 56 items that have been normed with high validity and reliability on children ages 5-18.  The scale typically takes from 10-15 minutes to complete each time.
A statistical analysis will then be performed to determine any statistically significant changes among the 4 groups before the treatment phase (control groups) at 4 weeks (post treatment phase) and again 2-weeks post treatment.



References:
1) Ayres, A.J. (1979).  Sensory integration & the child. Los Angeles: Western Psychological Services.
2) Fehmi, L., & Fritz, G. (1980).  Open focus: The attentional foundation of health & wellbeing. Somatics, 2, p. 34-40.
3) Harris, N. (2002).  Effective short-term therapy utilizing finger labyrinths to promote brain synchtrony. Journal of the American Psychotherapy Association, September/October, p. 22-3
4) Hutchison, M. (1994).  Megabrain power.  New York: Hyperion.
5) Shaw, P. (2007).  Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is characterized by a delay in cortical maturation. Online Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, December 4.


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