Trend: Growing interest in (and questions around) brain training centers for kids with special needs


Par­ents pay thou­sands for ‘brain train­ing’ to help kids with ADHD and autism. But does it work? (NBC News):

…As the num­ber of chil­dren diag­nosed with ADHD and autism surges in the U.S., accord­ing to fed­er­al data, and as par­ents become exas­per­at­ed with treat­ments that don’t work or involve med­ica­tions that car­ry the risk of side effects, neu­rotech­nol­o­gy indus­try ana­lysts pre­dict the demand for pro­grams like these will only grow

Much of the growth in brain train­ing is in apps and games that peo­ple use at home or in school, said Alvaro Fer­nan­dez, CEO of Sharp­Brains, a research firm that tracks the neu­rotech­nol­o­gy indus­try. The glob­al mar­ket for direct-to-con­sumer tech­nol­o­gy grew from $475 mil­lion in 2012 to $1.9 bil­lion last year, Fer­nan­dez said.

Those num­bers don’t include fran­chis­es like Brain Bal­ance or Learn­ingRx, which Fer­nan­dez says are more dif­fi­cult to track finan­cial­ly. But these cen­ters are now in most major U.S. cities. Brain Bal­ance has 108 loca­tions and said it brought in $51.3 mil­lion last year. Learn­ingRx has 70 cen­ters in the U.S. as well as 85 cen­ters called Brain­Rx around the globe. The com­pa­ny declined to pro­vide rev­enue num­bers but says it hopes to add eight U.S. cen­ters and 20 inter­na­tion­al cen­ters next year…

Why do some fam­i­lies see ben­e­fits from brain train­ing pro­grams while oth­ers don’t?

Experts say there could be lots of rea­sons — all inter­ven­tions, includ­ing med­i­cine, affect chil­dren dif­fer­ent­ly. Also, par­ents spend­ing large sums of mon­ey can fuel the place­bo effect, the belief that a treat­ment is work­ing even if it’s not.

Chil­dren in the Brain Bal­ance pro­gram are doing reg­u­lar exer­cise and eat­ing bet­ter than they may have been before, which can lead to bet­ter sleep. Many spend less time watch­ing TV or star­ing at a phone. They’re get­ting lots of per­son­al atten­tion from Brain Balance’s coach­es. And they’re devel­op­ing and maturing.”

The News in Context:

About SharpBrains

SHARPBRAINS is an independent think-tank and consulting firm providing services at the frontier of applied neuroscience, health, leadership and innovation.
SHARPBRAINS es un think-tank y consultoría independiente proporcionando servicios para la neurociencia aplicada, salud, liderazgo e innovación.

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