Neurotherapy as a Fibromyalgia Treatment: Exclusive Interview
By Paul Rodde •
October 10, 2001
Len Ochs, Ph.D., is the developer of the Flexyx Neurotherapy System (FNS), a unique treatment providing improvements in energy, sleep, clarity of mind, ease of functioning, and decreased pain, in hundreds of patients with CFS and FM symptoms.
ImmuneSupport.com: Describe the Flexyx Neurotherapy System, What is it? Who is it for? How does it work?
Ochs: The Flexyx Neurotherapy System (FNS) is both a brainwave biofeedback and treatment system, as well as an evaluation system. It is for patients with CNS (Central Nervous System) dysfunctions, and have impairments to their cognitive functioning, mood, energy, movement (paralysis), balance, and pain problems.
As a treatment system it measures brain waves, and directs the brain waves to send back to the person a reflection of those brain waves. This process is carried on a very weak FM radio signal, so there’s nothing to watch or feel. FNS makes use of the natural, unconscious self-regulation skills our brain and nervous system already have, and resets them so that they can once again work well. There’s nothing the person receiving FNS needs to do. The brain already knows how to do it, and it just needs a little nudge to work well again.
As an evaluation system, it shows whether the person can be worked with by allowing us to see whether the strength of the brain waves are like others who have responded well to the treatment. It also points to a treatment plan that tells us, on a session-by-session basis, where to place the electrodes, how strong the feedback should be, as well as other settings we can use to speed the treatment as much as possible.
ImmuneSupport.com: What do brainwaves represent, and what do they do?
Ochs: Brainwaves are generated by the subcortex (the inner portions of the brain) in response to physical trauma or viruses. When trauma such as a head injury occurs, the brain tries to defend itself against the brainwaves caused by the trauma by throwing up neurochemical barriers in the cortex (the outer surfaces of the brain). As we age, these chemicals lose their effectiveness. With a weakened defense, the cortex becomes overwhelmed by these brainwaves, and the brain starts to misinterpret signals from the body.
ImmuneSupport.com: How do brainwaves become abnormal, particularly in FM patients?
Ochs: In an FM patient, ordinary signals resulting from physical stimulus are interpreted as pain. The problem is how the brain manages and identifies stimulation. The brain’s map of the body becomes scrambled and confused when the cortex is overwhelmed by brainwaves. What the FNS does is stimulate the cortex with reflected brainwaves, helping to correct the confusion, making it clear that the signal it received was not a pain signal. The brain then begins to recognize the differences, and starts to correct them itself.
FNS stimulates the cortex so that it regains competence, and a sense of how to react to stimuli. In addition, the origin of pain patterns gets a more accurate representation. Then the cortex resumes its primary job of inhibiting sub-cortical activities. The FNS does not correct physical abnormalities; it teaches the cortex to compensate for a whole host of problems.
Once the brain starts to function normally, two things happen. First, the brain correctly identifies the signals it gets from the body, as well as the sources of those signals. So the brain starts to be able to tell the difference between what’s an ordinary muscle signal, and a pain signal, and it stops seeing pain where there are just ordinary sensations. For example, it stops equating say, a pain the jaw, with a shoulder sensation that is just an ordinary sensation.
Second, because the brain and nervous system aren’t barraged by false pain and confusion signals, they become relieved of the job of trying to sort all this out, and controlling signals that just don’t need to be controlled. This makes living immensely easier by lowering the workload of the brain and nervous system. When living and ordinary tasks become much easier, and get done much faster, we have much more energy, and are in a much less irritable, much less depressed or angry/frustrated mood.
ImmuneSupport.com: What about FM patients who had a sudden onset of symptoms?
Ochs: Patients with sudden onset of FM symptoms are always easier to treat because they have previously been operating at a high level of functioning. When they experienced a traumatic event we noticed a significant drop in functioning. It is easier for a sudden onset patient to return to normal functioning than a patient that has had symptoms for a long time. Even those with supposed structural damage can usually be helped if their functioning was much higher prior to a sudden decrease in functioning ability. However, those with lifelong problems, or very complex or severe problems, will have a much more complex course of treatment.
ImmuneSupport.com: Could the FNS help symptoms such as unrestful sleep?
Ochs: Yes, sleep improves in most people because they no longer have to rev themselves up so much to get through the day, which also exhausts them during the day. Further, when the pain signals decrease at night, their sleep is no longer interrupted.
ImmuneSupport.com: What are the components of the FNS?
Ochs: The components of the system are a very specific. There is an EEG (electroencephalogram), a computer, and the software to tie the EEG together with the computer. The patient’s brainwaves are monitored and recorded by the EEG via electrodes attached to the head. The brainwaves are then sent back to the patient using a FM radio signal so small the brain doesn’t overreact to them as a dangerous signal.
ImmuneSupport.com: Can you describe a typical treatment session?
Ochs: Treatment sessions are about 45 minutes in length. Most of the time is spent finding out what the person feels, where it hurts, how sleep is, and what the person is noticing as the sessions go by. Some of the sensations are new for the person, so these need to be put into a context that the person understands. People often find it useful to know what to expect, and how to differentiate feelings of progress from feelings that indicate the treatment needs to be modified in order to be successful.
Then the skin needs to be prepared. We need to remove oils and dead skin, so that the sensors can be placed. The sensors are applied with a sticky disk on the back of the neck, a clip on the ear, and a third held on to some part of the scalp with a small drop of wax. No needles or shocks are ever used.
Then the brain waves are monitored and feedback is given, according to the treatment plan drawn up in the evaluation. Finally we decide when another session is to be given, and the person is given signs to look for.
ImmuneSupport.com: What does a patient feel during treatment?
Ochs: Most people feel nothing during the session. A few feel immediately better, lighter and clearer. Most take a few sessions to feel this way. The person is sitting comfortably in a chair during the session. The eyes are closed simply to rest them, and to keep them from generating too many muscle signals of their own. Initially the effects of treatment have very little staying power and pass rather quickly. The results become more durable as time progresses.
ImmuneSupport.com: Where can a patient go to receive treatment?
Ochs: There are about 70 places around the world where someone can receive FNS. Many of these are listed on the web site at http://www.flexyx.com. The others can be discovered by e-mailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ImmuneSupport.com: How safe is the procedure? Are there any side effects?
Ochs: In 11 years, nobody has reported harmful changes to the functioning of any organ or any permanent loss of any kind of functioning. Dosage, as with medication or activity, needs to be carefully tied to a person’s sensitivity, or else overdose can occur. Typical signs of overdose are temporarily feeling wired or tired. Sometimes sleep is interrupted during the night if the person has too much energy. This usually passes overnight.
ImmuneSupport.com: How expensive is the treatment, and is it covered by insurance?
Ochs: The actual professional fees vary greatly from practitioner to practitioner, the experience of the practitioner, and from one part of the country to another. It would be best to ask the practitioner what their fee is. Insurance reimbursement often varies with the plan the person carries. Some companies reimburse up to 80%, while others may not reimburse at all.
ImmuneSupport.com: Have any clinical studies of the FNS been performed? Are any planned or in progress?
Ochs: One study, on traumatic brain injury, was just reported in the Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, a very prestigious medical journal. Another is underway, about Fibromyalgia, and is managed by Rush St. Luke’s Presbyterian Hospital in Chicago. This second study should be ready for publication in approximately two years.
ImmuneSupport.com: What does the future hold for Flexyx?
Ochs: It’s always hard to anticipate the future for a very small company, without the resources of a major pharmaceutical company. There are many political, scientific, and economic hurdles to overcome. In addition, there needs to be many studies conducted on FNS as it develops and improves. If we can be ingenious about how we develop and fund the company, and find the experienced management to guide the company’s growth, Flexyx might be able to make a significant contribution to the lives of many people.