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Brain Balance® School Pilot Study Results

The Brain Balance program improves attention and classroom behavior in students with attentional and developmental challenges in a school setting 

Teaching is hard. And every fall presents new challenges inside the classroom. Increased attention issues and behavioral concerns have signaled the need for programs and services to support the school community with this growing challenge. When we equip teachers with the right tools for a changing world, we can help ensure our kids' success as they continue to learn and grow. Brain Balance is traditionally known as an extensively researched, center-based, multimodal program that can assist students with cognitive difficulties and symptoms of ADHD in improving their cognitive and behavioral performance. However, it has yet to be examined in a school setting. 

This study has, therefore, been designed to evaluate the impact of the Brain Balance program on students with learning and attention difficulties in a classroom setting. Particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, which exacerbated these challenges by creating educational gaps, attention, behavior, and mental health concerns in schools, resulting in greater demand for services.

Unlike conventional school-based interventions, the Brain Balance program uses a holistic approach that addresses multiple areas of development without medication. This study explored the feasibility and effectiveness of implementing the Brain Balance program in a school setting.

Goals of The Study

This pilot study aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of the Brain Balance program in improving attentional, behavioral, and developmental outcomes in children and adolescents with attention issues and developmental challenges in the classroom.

The results, published in the Journal for the Study of Education and Development, demonstrated marked improvements in attention, behavior, and sensory-motor development for students who completed the Brain Balance program compared to the control group. The study's results, although preliminary, indicate the effectiveness of the Brain Balance program in the reduction of disruptive behavior, improved attention in the classroom, and overall improvement in motor development and cognitive functioning. 

Key Takeaways

Year after year, the challenges our teachers face in the classroom are mounting. Increased attention challenges, classroom disruptions, and the various learning needs among a classroom full of students require a fresh approach to improving the learning environment. Ensuring the success of our students requires teachers to focus on what they do best–teaching. To that end, a few key takeaways stick out, showing incredible promise for future partnerships. 

  • In this study, teachers completed a profile pre and post-program to assess challenges and improvements in areas of attention and behaviors that can directly impact the classroom experience. The Vanderbilt ADHD Diagnostic Teacher Ratings Scale (VADTRS) is a validated profile that looks at five subcategories: inattention, hyperactivity/impulsivity, combined oppositional defiant and conduct disorders, and anxiety or depression symptoms. The Brain Balance participants showed the largest, significant improvements in the categories of inattention and the combined category of hyperactivity/impulsivity and inattention. Improvements in these areas can result in an improved ability for a student to sustain attention and mental effort, ignore distracting stimuli, listen to and follow direct verbal instructions, and complete schoolwork on time.
  • Students were assessed on measures of primitive/developmental reflexes and measures of sensory-motor development both pre and post-program. Each of the areas tested is an indicator of age-appropriate development. When aspects of development have fallen behind, maturing these aspects of foundational development have been correlated with improvements in coordination, processing, and cognition. 
  • The sensory-motor tasks measured consisted of 8 primitive reflexes and six aspects of sensory-motor development. The tasks involved activities to measure whole-body coordination, rhythm and timing, fine motor skills, auditory processing, and gaze stability (the ability to maintain eye contact even if the body is in motion). Each area measured showed significant improvements. The completion of the program reduced the primitive reflexes measured, a significant difference compared to the control group. This is meaningful as a retention of primitive reflexes is a key determining factor associated with delayed motor development, reading deficits, learning difficulties, an early indicator of neurodevelopmental conditions, and symptoms of ADHD. Additionally, the six sensory motor categories demonstrated significant gains over the same period compared to the control group as a result of completing Brain Balance’s proprietary program. In other words, the Brain Balance program—even in a school setting—helped students improve in key development aspects, resulting in improved attention and behaviors in the classroom. 

Brain Balance program outcomes have been well documented through published research on the program delivered at centers across the country and a modified home program. However, studies have yet to be published to date examining the efficacy of a program delivered in a school setting. This study illustrates the potential for an additional approach to be added to the resources available for schools to support learning and outcomes for all students. 

Lead researcher on this study and Brain Balance Chief Programs Officer, Dr. Rebecca Jackson, notes, “Today’s educators have an enormous job in educating our children, and with increases in ADHD and developmental concerns comes increased challenges in maintaining a classroom environment conducive to learning. Schools and parents must have a variety of evidence-based tools and resources available to help and support all students. This initial study demonstrates the Brain Balance program's positive impact on improving attention and minimizing behaviors in the classroom, and hopefully paves the way for additional opportunities to support students' learning outcomes.” 

Taking The Next Step

While there has long been the need for additional multimodal services and resources for schools and teachers to assist kids in their behavioral and cognitive development, the COVID-19 pandemic brought many of those concerns into a new light. Many schools across the country face challenges with limited resources and staffing, making it difficult to meet the growing needs of students. 

Shining new light on the efficacy of the Brain Balance Program’s effect on behavior in a school setting not only adds to a continually growing body of evidence for the program's effectiveness but also illustrates the potential for new community and school evidence-based partnerships to fill those gaps. Unlike other programs available to schools, Brain Balance takes a unique whole-child approach that integrates multiple interrelated areas of development—something that in the past has been largely unexplored.

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