Brain Balance Centers: total and utter neurobollocks

Masthead from the Brain Balance Center's website. "clinically proven"!

Masthead from the Brain Balance Center’s website. “Clinically proven”, and oooh… “holistic”. Marvellous.

Brain Balance Centers are a network (actually, to be precise, a network of franchises) of treatment centers spread across the United States, currently operating in 54 locations; most of the major US cities. They offer a treatment called the ‘Brain Balance Program’ that claims to be able to improve:

1. Academic performance
2. Social abilities
3. Cognitive function
4. Sensory and motor skills
5. Visual-spatial organizational skills
6. Immunity and nutritional health

They also claim to effectively treat pretty much any developmental disorder under the sun, including autism, ADHD, Asperger’s, Tourette’s and dyslexia, without the use of any drugs. This is because all these disorders are (apparently) caused by an “underlying functional imbalance or under-connectivity of electrical (brain) activity within and between the right and left sides of the brain.”

Any alarm bells ringing yet? They should be. Whenever someone comes along with a miracle-cure for a range of unrelated conditions, and has come up with the equivalent of a Unified Field Theory of neurodevelopmental disorders, something must be a bit fishy. So it appears in this case. There have already been a couple of excellent take-downs of the claims that Brain Balance Centers make. The first is by the really-very-wonderful Emily Willingham, and you can find it here. Emily expertly refutes a number of the key claims, and proceeds to drill down on the list of evidence and references provided on the website. Her conclusion is that the claims are an “enormous steaming pile of bullshit”.

Another great piece on these guys is by Harriet Hall of SkepDoc, and can be found here. This examines in detail a study published in the International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health (which at least appears to be a ‘proper’, if obscure, journal). Harriet notes that despite all the waffle about functional disconnection and hemispheric imbalance of the brain, the exercises performed by the kids in the study were relatively simple (such as synchronising movements to a metronome) and the conceptual link between the treatments and correction of the underlying ‘hemispheric disconnection’ is vanishingly tenuous. Most damningly, the study didn’t include a control group, meaning it’s possible (likely?) that any improvement seen was simply a placebo effect (or more precisely, a Hawthorne effect).

The last author on that paper is a guy named FR Carrick, and all the authors’ affiliations are listed as the “The FR Carrick Institute for Clinical Ergonomics, Rehabilitation and Applied Neuroscience”; and this is where it gets really interesting. Dr Carrick is a specialist in ‘Chiropractic Neurology’. Chiropractic is a branch of alternative medicine with a fairly wacky history (founded in 1895 by a magnetic healer named DD Palmer), and essentially aims to treat health issues by manipulation of the spine. Debunking chiropractic is well beyond the scope of this piece, but let’s just note that there is a paucity of evidence for effectiveness in any condition other than low-back pain, and even there, evidence is pretty mixed. ‘Chiropractic neurology’ as a discipline then, is highly suspect.

It turns out the FR Carrick Institute of whatever whatever has a very glossy and slick webpage, that on closer inspection, really doesn’t contain a whole lot of content. The Wikipedia page for the institute gushes on at some length about the incredible research happening at the Institute, and the “faculty of world class scientists and clinical researchers” employed there (clearly in need of some de-biasing, Wikipedia) but the only personnel mentioned on the website are in the ‘Management’ section: Dr Gerry Leisman and Dr Robert Melillo. Gerry Leisman seems to have had a somewhat chequered career at several universities in the US and UK. Interestingly, in 1994 he was sanctioned by the NIH office of research integrity for falsely claiming to have a MD degree from the University of Manchester (amongst other things).

Dr Robert Melillo (and congratulations for making it, if you wondered where I was going with this digression…) as well as being the executive director of the FR Carrick Institute for advanced alternative navel-gazing is also the founder of… you guessed it! The Brain Balance Centers! Let’s look at his list of eminent-sounding qualifications listed on the site shall, we?

“…adjunct professor of functional neuroanatomy for the graduate doctoral neuropsychology program at Touro College, NY and Leeds Metropolitan University, England.”

Well, they sound like academic appointments at genuine, if hardly wildly-prestigious institutions. Unfortunately,  a search of the Leeds Metropolitan University website produces no hits for “melillo”. A search of the Touro college site also comes up blank (except for a Nicholas P. Melillo – oooh, so close!).

“He is also an associate professor of clinical neurology and childhood behavioral disorders at The Carrick Institute, in FL.”

This Carrick Institute in Florida (not to be confused with the one mentioned above, in New York state!) appears to be a teaching school concerned with chiropractic neurology, and has a loooong list of associate/assistant professors.

“He holds a master’s degree in Neuroscience and is currently completing his PhD in Clinical Rehabilitation Neuropsychology.”

No indication of where he obtained his Masters degree, or where he’s working on his PhD. I’m betting that it might be in one of the FR Carrick Institutes… Incidentally, if he doesn’t have a PhD, or any medical qualifications, why is he calling himself ‘Dr’?

“He is board certified in Chiropractic Neurology and is the former chairman of the American Board of Chiropractic Neurology.”

Meh.

“He is also President of the Foundation for Cognitive Neuroscience.”

The what, now? I can’t find anything online about a Foundation for Cognitive Neuroscience, in fact a google search for “Foundation for cognitive neuroscience” +melillo returns precisely zero results.

My point in all this is not to expose this guy as some kind of fraud, fun though that might be. I find it interesting that Dr (?) Melillo’s background is obviously in chiropractic treatment, and he’s found a gosh-darn-whizzo way of spinning this out into a national network of treatment centers for children. Interestingly, chiropractic isn’t mentioned anywhere on the Brain Balance Center site at all, and it’s not clear if the treatments are derived from chiropractic theory/practice. This paper from 2008 notes that chiropractic has something of an image problem, and is declining in popularity – re-packaging it as ‘hemispheric integration therapy’ for developmental disorders is a good wheeze – it allows a complete break with the previous practices, and allows you to pander to the fears of time-poor, cash-rich parents (a course of treatment is reported to cost around $6000).

So, will your child benefit from treatment at a Brain Balance Center? Possibly they will; regular sessions of individual attention and structured exercises of almost any kind are probably good for children. Will they benefit more than if you just took them to the park to ride their bike every weekend? Most likely not.  The neuro-inspired claims that the Brain Balance Center makes are an incoherent muddle of utterly fly-blown bullshit, built on the foundation of an alternative therapy (chiropractic) which itself is highly suspect. Don’t waste your hard-earned money people – it’s an out-and-out scam.

What this means, is that the Brain Balance Centers receive the highest honour it’s possible for this humble blog to bestow – a mighty 10 out of 10 on the NeuroBollocks rating scale!

Finally, just to leave you in a good mood, here’s Eddie Izzard with a brief bit on chiropractors:

**Update**

I’ve just been sent a link to another piece I wasn’t aware of by Jon Brock. Jon is a developmental disorders researcher in Australia, and became aware of a video discussing one of his papers by a chiropractor called David Sullivan, who it turns out, is connected to the various Carrick institutes, and Robert Melillo, and runs Keystone Chiropractic Neurology. The article is well worth a read, and there’s a lot of good discussion in the comments section too.

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78 responses to “Brain Balance Centers: total and utter neurobollocks

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  9. You know what…?? Whatever works. Better than popping dangerous farmaceutical drugs into young children and destroying their bodies and minds even more. Almost all Doctors are labellers of symptoms of diseases and not interested in the true cause of dysfuntioning.
    Neuroplasticity is a fact. The functioning of the brain can be changed. Ah wait, you’re probably debunking the benefits of meditation as well… I’m pretty sure that one day soon, sites like this will become obsolete, and a laughing stock, because it’s this closed-mindedness which keeps us rooted in believing that medical science alone is the way to heal. Not so…
    Medical science is doomed, because it’s based on treatment of symptoms. The underlaying causes of illness is totally discarded. We are not JUST a body, but a mind as well and they are intertwined.
    Only treating one part of dysfunctioning (the body or the mind) will not solve the problem. Healing is like magic: let the brain do some “talking”, and I don’t mean the ego-chatter.

  10. My son went through the program and it changed his life. He went from not being able to respond to his name, answer a question, or have any type of conversation at all to being fully conversational. I also had a doctor tell me that he would never be able to learn anything unless I put him on medication. I didn’t put him on medication and instead went to Brain Balance and it completely opened his brain up to learning. His kindergarten teacher said it was like one day to the next they weren’t able to get anything through to him to him all of a sudden knowing everything they were teaching him. He is now in an inclusion program in a regular grammar school for 2nd grade and is on track academically. I could go on and on with the improvements that we saw with him going through the program. I have also sat in the waiting room and seen so many kids have such wonderful improvements. You can knock it all you want but it works!!

  11. “Dr. Hall then gets to the “conflict” with the author of the papers and studies behind Brain Balance. The Journal might realize if they did their research that Dr. Hall has tried to discredit Dr. Carrick’s work at every turn since 2004 since he called her out for lack of knowledge and outright lying in a blog post that she wrote about Dr. Carrick appearing on a PBS documentary back in 2000. Not a very credible “expert”.” If you want to see where I got this quote just go to the link below.

    http://newsprintwatch.com/about/brain-balance-gets-it-right-journal-sentinel-gets-it-wrong/
    I went through this program a year ago, and my math SAT score went from a 410 to a 530. I also want to say that if I were going to write an article that was trying to disprove someone’s theories, I would actually pay attention to how I write the article. This sounds like a fifteen year old. Next time you write something that is going to be seen by millions of people try to follow a few guidelines.
    1. Cite expert sources.
    I would continue on but I have to get to class in a few minutes. For those reading this BS and believing it search google for a web-ring that goes around making each other look credible and trying to discredit Brain Balance.

    • Hi Rachel,

      Thanks for the comment, and for sharing your experiences. Just for the record – I’m not part of any web-ring that has some kind of agenda to discredit Brain Balance – I just call it as I see it. And honestly, I can’t seem to find any ‘expert sources’ – there is very, very little peer-reviewed literature on Brain Balance interventions out there. This is, of course, one of my major issues with the whole enterprise.

  12. Sorry that was harsh, but I have one word for you. Neuroplasticity, the program is basically built around that one word.

  13. I recognize that your website provides a great service. In the information age, and when advances in neurology are making huge leaps in progress, there is a lot of misinformation out there. Scanning through your other posts, I find much that I can agree with. In your critique of the Brain Balance program however, you’ve formed an erroneous opinion that disregards the thousands of people who have seen this program helping their children progress where other programs have failed. It’s clear from your write-up that you haven’t observed this program first hand, or talked with Dr. Melillo or his associate pioneers in functional disconnection. Ah yes! I used the dreaded “pseudoscience” term, so I must be discounted because I’ve already bought the line. The truth is, you rely on critics who likewise have not done a thorough job of their research. Just because a bunch of people have read negative opinions held by a bunch of other people about any given program, it’s all hearsay. No one talking about it in your references has taken the time to observe anything firsthand. This is not research. It’s merely taking a survey of opinions.
    I have two sons in the Brain Balance program right now. I don’t have have all day here, so I will just address a couple of points. Numerous critics like to portray Dr. Melillo as nothing more than a snake oil salesman who just wants your money. The only problem with that is that he’s basically printed a step- by-step guide on how to help your kids do the same home programming exercises for free, in his book “Disconnected Kids.” The program fee you mention covers a three-month course of programming. It’s comparable to sending your kid to a world class tutor three times a week. Only this tutor doesn’t just drill you on your math, but helps you expand your capacity to retain the math, and then to pursue increasingly higher levels of math to your heart’s content.
    As you’ve never observed what they actually DO in a Brain Balance session, try this: Put on a pair of goggles that continuously flashes a light into your right eye, while feeding auditory stimuli into your left ear. Then put a continuously vibrating cuff on one of your legs and one of your arms. Then get on a balance beam, and walk forward and then backwards over the entire length without falling off. Then when you’ve managed that successfully, do it again. But this time, throw a ball up and down in front of you at the same time. Then throw in the metronome. My 13-year-old can do it now, no problem. And he no longer suffers from ADHD. Gathering a bunch of negative opinions from people who know nothing about the principal question and then writing a critical piece about it is quite simple. In your sloppy assessment, you disregard the value of engaging in applied science. That is what Dr. Melillo did almost twenty years ago, as he worked with patients in rehab, and observed how multi-disciplinary interventions, when combined and applied simultaneously, healed them. If we waited around for the mainstream establishment to make innovations, and figure out how to combine modalities across medical communities, we’d all still be in the dark ages!!

    • Hi,

      Many thanks for your detailed comments, and I’m very glad to hear that you’ve had a positive experience with Brain Balance and your sons. I’m perfectly willing to believe (as I have no evidence to the contrary) that Dr Melillo has the best interests of his patients at heart, is not in it for the money at all, and is a thoroughly nice guy. I’m also perfectly willing to believe that Brain Balance helps some kids with their issues.

      My problem is that Dr Melillo (who doesn’t actually appear to be a doctor at all, since he has no medical qualifications or a PhD, but whatever…) seems to have created a program out of thin air, or in other words, just made it up. The Brain Balance program has absolutely zero basis in any serious science, and has published nothing since it’s been running. If it was really so effective, why don’t they want to tell the scientific community about it? As you say, I’ve never observed exactly what they do, and in fact I found that precise information about the program is pretty hard to come by (although I admit I haven’t read his book). Without any hard data on the treatment and its effects, how can the scientific community possibly evaluate it? You call what he did ‘applied science’; as someone who works in a genuine clinical research lab, I have to disagree. What Melillo has done is build a pretty substantial empire based on a widely-discredited pseudo-scientific therapy (chiropractic), with some bolted-on waffle about brains, underpinned by gushing anecdotes from former patients, and sustained by the insecurities of middle-class parents. It’s pretty clever, I have to admit, but it absolutely, definitely isn’t science of any kind.

      This is going to sound pretty insufferably smug, but what the hell – if you know anything at all about the brain you can immediately tell that his ideas about ‘functional disconnection syndrome’ are just laughable bullshit. It’s just meaningless jargon. Honestly.

      Again, to finish, I don’t doubt that his program helps some kids, and I’m really glad to hear that you’ve had a positive experience, but there are others out there that I know of who haven’t.

  14. Thank you for being honest about your utter lack of research into this program. Harvard is commissioning a study of the Brain Balance program, as of this year. I hope you make a closer study moving forward, and provide follow-up discussions as your opinion evolves. Given the choice between the trailblazing research crowd and that of the establishment, the former holds much more promise for me. Twenty years ago, the enlightened establishment still largely preferred to blame neuro-disorders on dysfunctional mothering. This of course is “utter bollocks” to use your term. In fact mothers of these kids today are still blamed unfairly, but I digress. Name any pioneer in any field of endeavor, and you will also have named a person who was ceaselessly ridiculed by the establishment, until it became clear that s/he was right.

    As a mother of special needs kids (not unlike the Emily with her shallow critique of BB referenced above), we devote our lives to finding out what will help our kids. We usually know more about our child’s condition than the family doctors do. I’ve learned that food and exercise are among the best weapons in countering any pathology. Not a big surprise, but any effective intervention necessarily includes them. What Brain Balance does is apply different intervention modalities into one treatment plan, and supports parents to make food and home programming exercises into weapons for healing. The connection between a leaky gut and atypical neuro-behaviors cannot be overstated, and their dietary recommendations are designed to cure that. You inexplicably left this foundational element of the program out of your discussion.

    A couple of months ago I had a chance to visit at length with one of my husband’s co-workers. He and his wife live in New Jersey, near Princeton. They have triplet sons, two of which are autistic. They are enrolled in a treatment program through the university. As we talked, we found that his wife and I had essentially walked parallel paths. We’ve both fought with school districts to get appropriate services for our kids. His wife and I have both considered going to law school in order to provide much-needed legal support for families with special needs. We’d both done endless research on Autistic spectrum disorders, and eventually came to similar conclusions. We both put our kids into treatment programs that include multiple, daily home programming exercises and drastic dietary changes. Dr. Melillo must not be too off-base, or Harvard wouldn’t be taking a closer look, and Princeton wouldn’t be implementing a similar program for kids in their community.

  15. Hello, Hello—NB did you want to resend your October 31st statements.
    “Without any hard data on the treatment and its effects, how can the scientific community possibly evaluate it? “— You are slanderous and not very well researched. May I suggest start with the concept of neuroplasticity . Start there and then will talk, get you up to speed. Then we will start with some other basic concepts in neurological assessments that ALL therapist use. OT, PT, and ST. We will then start with the lower brain, move to the fine details of the cerebellum and then move to the basal ganglia…………..
    It should take you about 5 years to catch up.

    • Oh, thanks for this, it really made me laugh! Just throwing around some anatomical terms and the neuro-bullshitters favourite meaningless word (‘neuroplasticity’) in an only semi-coherent and badly-spelled manner doesn’t really impress me I’m afraid. Sorry.

      I notice on your business website you call yourself Dr Martin Stites:
      http://triadwellnesscenter.com/ Did you really go to medical school or get a PhD (those online colleges where you get a PhD certificate for $30 don’t count, in case you were wondering), or are you another chiropractor who misrepresents their qualifications, like ‘Dr’ Melillo?

  16. I was a Navy Corpsmen for 4 years. I worked in ICU,CCU and recovery room. I was detached to the Marines, worked in first line support in sick call and ER. I left the military and graduated from the Medical University of South Carolina. I have a BS in Occupational Therapy. I worked pediatrics for a year and left to work in stroke rehab in the state of Florida. I became a rehabilitation director for my last 2 years for a facility that treated about 35-45 patients per day. The patient’s were CVA, head injuries, and orthopedics. I worked as a part-time therapist at UCLA on the 7th floor neurology when I was going through school to further my education. External shunts, head injuries, CVA’s, and ………

    I attended Cleveland Chiropractic of LA and graduated in 2003. I have a private practice in Sherman Oaks, California. I treat a variety of patients from low back pain, neck pain, shoulder injuries, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, pediatrics…………

    I come from a heavy, heavy, heavy medical background. I have watched more people die than you will in many lifetimes. I have saved more people than you can ever imagine.

    Brain Balance works, I was surprised on how well it works.
    My son went through the program. He has cerebral palsy, hydrocephalus with a shunt, as well as, a CVA on birth on the right frontal lobe. He gained 2 years of reading comprehension and listening comprehension in 3 months. He gained another 2 years in 10 months, just doing the home program after we left.This was calculated with standardized testing. He is in 9th grade and the only class he is behind on is algebra. But he is taking both pre-algebra and algebra 1 together. A “c” in pre and a “d” in algebra.
    There you are —–A father with a couple of degrees, and a kid with a success story.

    You wanted my story. Thats my story. You wanted research. I gave you research. Now I guess you can bag on my degrees. Have fun.

    • Very impressive, really. However, I notice that you didn’t explicitly say that you had a doctoral-level medical qualification, or PhD, so my question still stands. I find it somewhat baffling that someone who clearly has a great deal of serious medical experience can swallow the Brain Balance schtick. I’m genuinely glad you had a good experience with it with your son though. For the record, I’ve never questioned whether BB works – it clearly does for some, but maybe not for others. I would contend that when it does work, it works for non-specific reasons rather than any therapeutic effect of the particular elements of the program. My issue is more with the theoretical underpinnings of it (which are bogus) and the way that it’s sold.

      Anyway, let’s take a look at the papers you posted.

      1.
      http://www.frontiersin.org/Child_Health_and_Human_Development/10.3389/fpubh.2013.00022/abstract

      This actually seems like a fairly decent study – a decently-large sample size, and some very striking effects. My main critique is that it was just a wait-list control group (i.e. no intervention at all for the control group). This means you can’t rule out potential non-specific effects (e.g. maybe the kids just responded to the attention they received, rather than any of the specific therapies) or Hawthorne effects (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawthorne_effect).

      2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24048514
      Again, an interesting study. Unfortunately the study is behind a paywall so I can’t see the full details of the methods. I’m perfectly willing to entertain their main conclusion about “An impairment of visual and auditory sensory integration”, however there are many, many functional deficits that have been identified in Autism, and I’m hesitant to accept that this result provides unambiguous evidence that Melillo’s ‘functional disconnection syndrome’ is the primary one. The plethora of these kinds of results in autistic kids suggest that the underlying functional deficit is complex and multi-faceted.

      3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23241666
      This is a review article on basal-ganglia/cerebellar-cortical connections/loops, so no empirical data here to present any evidence or to critique. The authors here seem to suggest that the underlying dysfunction in a variety of clinical conditions is actually in the BG or the cerebellum – how does that relate to functional disconnection, which focusses on communication between the (cortical) hemispheres?

      4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22754510
      Another review article/opinion piece, this time on free-will, from a neurodevelopment/evolutionary perspective. All very interesting I’m sure, and I’m not enough of an expert on neurodevelopment to be able to really comment on how comprehensive the coverage is. No mention of functional disconnection, or any pathological condition though – little relevance to BB?

      5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21061929
      This study I already critiqued in the main piece above, so I won’t repeat myself, except to say – no control group.

      6. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19774789
      Another review/opinion article, this time on Autism and functional disconnection. No data/evidence to critique here. As noted above, the issues in autism are complex and manifold, focussing on one simple underlying functional pathology seems disingenuous.

      And finally…

      7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24025063
      This is a study looking at the effect of Zolpidem (a commonly-prescribed sleeping pill, with action at GABA receptors, though interestingly not a benzodiazepine) on patients in a persistent vegetative state. I’m really struggling to see how this relates to Brain Balance and ADD/autism/functional-disconnection in any way at all. Also – conducted in Cuba apparently – weird.

      In fact, haven’t you noticed that Melillo seems to have academic associations with universities in Cuba and Israel? Isn’t that just a little bit of a red-flag for you? Be honest now – couldn’t he find any US universities who wanted to be associated with him?

      Anyway, from the literature you cited, I see two empirical studies that are relevant (1 and 5). 5 is badly compromised by there being no control group, and 1 (though a much larger cohort and a generally better study) also has only a wait-list control group. So, in short, one (somewhat) compromised study is the evidence that we have available for the effectiveness of BB. Does that sound convincing to you? It seems pretty thin to me. I don’t know about you, but if I was going to be prescribed some medication, and I was told that there was only one study that showed that it was safe, I’d be pretty worried about taking it – I’m sure with your medical background you’d agree with that.

  17. First of all if this is Ben writing me back—- I am honored. You asked if I am a medical doctor. The answer is no. I had that question to myself many years ago when I was working in rehab. I wondered if I wanted to go to med school or become a chiropractor.
    It came down to one patient in particular. There was an opera singer who had a low brain infarct on stage. He was medically stabilized, on a trach, minimal tone through all 4’s. (thats pretty much bed ridden)—sent to rehab.
    This is before TPA.
    In three months he walked out with a quad cane. I looked at what my team did and what the MD did in rehab care. I experienced ER care, ICU care, and then rehab care——-My heart was in rehab care.
    Chiropractic allows me to use a multitude of techniques. Kolar, Janda, Bobath, Bla Bla Bla. Some covered by insurance, some covered by cash. Everything is measured subjectively and objectively.I have over 2500 patients that I treat, that stay with me because I know what I am doing. The patients do not come to me 1st choice, I am usually the last choice. I get medical records, review past treatments, see mistakes, see excellent treatments. Most of the errors in medicine are a lack of understanding of basic physiology, as well as, biomechanics. Anyhow, I could not see myself handing out statin drugs and patting a patient on the back and telling them everything is going to be ok.
    My question is why are you misleading the public in stating there is NO research. By you reviewing the literature does not address the fact that you made a statement that was incorrect. I am asking you to address your incorrect statement
    If this is Ben, I have a word of advice for you. You had the opportunity to go to some of the best schools in England. Your “boys” school cost more in one year than some of my patients make in two. Take your great brain, and build a new paradigm for research. Change the “gold” standard. I listened to your TED talk. You got some great points. Calling out my Chiropractic degree as BS, going after the drug studies, homeopaths, and natural paths does not change all that I have or others have done for society. Trust me my financial gain is in no comparison to what I do. Calling out other doctors as not doctors is useless—Your argument should be directed towards the standards of research and the standards of licensing to become a doctor.

    I took 5 “Board” test to become a DC. MD’s take 1. Some easy. Some harder than _____. I worked at UCLA, sat with R1 and R2 and couldn’t find competency until I was with an R3.

    Change the Gold standard.

    Thanks Ben, Wish you well. re-direct your efforts and you will go down in history—You got a great brain—use it.

    • Ah… very sorry to disappoint you, but I’m afraid I’m not Ben Goldacre! Though of course I’m a big fan of his work. Honestly, I don’t really care what your qualifications are, you’re obviously a thoughtful person who has decided to make a career in helping people, and that’s a tremendous and highly laudable thing. I’m not a medic either, I’m a neuroscience researcher, so I’m afraid I have very little knowledge about the kind of rehab work you talk about, and for all I know chiropractic-type techniques might be very helpful.

      What I do know is that chiropractic’s theoretical foundation is extremely sketchy and refers to very vague and often mystical concepts. Whether or not it has any usefulness in treating physical issues (and the evidence is pretty conflicted even here), I’m dead sure that chiropractic techniques have no effect on neurological and developmental issues like ADD and autism.

      I stand by my claim that there is no good evidence for the effectiveness of the Brain Balance program. The literature you provided me with has not changed my mind I’m afraid. As I said in the last comment, there are just two extant empirical studies, neither of which had a proper control groups, and both of which were conducted by people with a vested interest in the outcome. This does not constitute good evidence. I’m sure Ben Goldacre would agree. ;o)

      Again, I feel I should reiterate, I’m not saying that you’re lying, or that all the other people who’ve had a good experience with BB are as well – I believe they really do help people. Homeopathy helps some people, as does hypnotherapy, crystal healing, thought-field therapy and Freudian psychoanalysis. A quick google search can turn up people who swear blind that all these things have helped them cure their back pain, anxiety, gout, whatever. However, none of them really ‘work’, when compared to a proper placebo-control. All of these things ‘work’ because of some kind of combination of the placebo effect, and other non-specific factors. Until I see some evidence otherwise (and, as a scientists, I’d happily change my mind about this, if the evidence was sufficiently convincing), I think I’m pretty safe in assuming that BB ‘works’ in the same way.

      Anyway, you don’t have to take (just) my word for it. There’s a good discussion about BB on this site, with contributions from a lot of different people and commenters: http://lizditz.typepad.com/i_speak_of_dreams/2010/12/is-this-a-money-making-opportunity-for-franchisees-or-a-legitimate-therapy.html, and this forum has a lot of people that are pretty sceptical about it as well: http://giftedissues.davidsongifted.org/BB/ubbthreads.php/topics/74063/menu_control_74075%22

      • Come on —Emily, Harriet and Stephen Barret have been talking smack for years. Stephen was talking so much smack, he was taken to court and the courts ruled against him.
        http://www.quackpotwatch.org/quackpots/quackpots/barrett.htm

        That may be a reason why stating “No research” can be dangerous, then stating quit a bit of slanderous comments. It would be best stated, they are stating this, the research is here and I disagree with the research because of this……… I am not threatening, I am really just trying to help you with your objectivity and not to wind up like Stephen, unless you have a huge wallet from some financial institution thats helping you——-Not stating, just asking.

        Correct me on this —–Theory becomes probability becomes fact. You keep saying theory. Kids are getting better via this program, thats showing probability. The research is starting to show fact. You can probably continue your argument with Harvard when they are done with their study.

        My son had pretest and post test. Most standardized. I used an independent test to confirm the results twice. If I waited as a parent for the 5000 kid double blinded control study he would be 25 years old and sitting at home trying to read at a sixth grade level. Now, he has a chance to go to college. He is going back this summer for round two—I’ll let you know how the placebo effect works——you know the anterior cingulate gyrus to the VLPFC and VMPFC——
        Wait he doesn’t have a VLPFC, the stroke took care of that. How did that happen?
        http://www.jneurosci.org/content/25/45/10390.full

        Gotta go —can’t really chat anymore—Got people to help

        BTW “crystal healing”—-I like your ability to indirectly and directly imply that I have no science behind what I do. Do you feel better about yourself now? That comes from my Freudian roots—just kidding.

        Have a great day. Unless you are UK—night.

      • I feel like we’re not making much progress with this discussion anymore, so perhaps we should draw it to a close, unless you have anything else substantive to add. I don’t think I’ve said anything untrue or libellous (slander refers to spoken statements so doesn’t really apply) so am not worried about legal action; thanks for the warning anyway. I repeat again, that the research is lacking. There are two relevant published reports, one of which is with a tiny sample and no control group, the other of which has a poor control group, and both of which suffer from the vested interests of the authors. Are you seriously contending that this constitutes a solid evidence base? Would you take a new drug that had been tested in such a manner? I sure as hell wouldn’t!

        Also – do you have any information about this study that’s supposedly happening at Harvard? A search for “brain balance” +harvard doesn’t turn up any results – if you have any information on it, I’d love to see it. Thanks.

        Once again, I’m very glad to hear that you’ve had positive results from the BB program with your son, and I wish you both the very best.

      • Are you seriously contending that this constitutes a solid evidence base?

        See below

        Like I stated before, I was happy to hear the theory and the potential of the program. I enrolled my child and got great results. If I wait for the “awesome double blinded control study with 5000 kids” My child would be 25. There is not much out there. Have you seen the long term studies on meds for ADHD out of Canada?—Not good!!!!
        One year later, the research was published. I am content with the results. I am very impressed with the program. My child will be back in this summer.

        Would you take a new drug that had been tested in such a manner? I sure as hell wouldn’t!

        See below

        You are comparing a potentially dangerous chemical to a non-invasive therapy. I would do a non-invasive therapy, I would not take a medication.

        If I see anything on the Harvard study, I’ll pass it on.

        Be Well !! Thanks for the chat.

  18. This guy has recently started networking with the autism community on twitter, passing himself off as legit…great article, glad i found this.

  19. Brain Balance Works! As a mom of two boys that were struggling for years this program saved our lives. We had done biomedical treatments, dietary changes, private school, home school, private tutoring, ABA therapy, Speech and OT. After spending thousands of dollars a month for almost 5 years, we found the Brain Balance Program. There were no centers near us so I moved with my three children leaving my husband behind for 4 months to attend a center. I can tell you that it was miraculous and that we saw more changes and improvements in the 4 months there than we had seen in the combined 5 years and countless dollars spent previously. It is a lot of hard work, but we are already working for our kids. When I first looked at the program I was skeptical as well. It cost money (which I had already been spending a lot of) and I didn’t understand how they said they could help in so many areas and so rapidly. However, when I started doing actual research, watched Dr. Melillo’s lectures, educated myself from the centers, etc. etc. I realized that It is very research base. If you truly educate yourself on the program you will see that it makes so much sense. In short it is just helping the brain develop the way it does in the first place through sensory stimulation, movement, cognitive and good nutrition. There is nothing wrong with these kids brains. I always knew my boys had great potential. They could learn and grow and were amazing in certain areas, but really struggled in others. There is no reason if they can develop their math skills that they can’t learn to ride a bike, etc. It is just that there is an imbalance, a disconnect and that the focus is not in the right area.It was a HUGE sacrifice to move across the country and do the work, pay for the program and a place to live, etc. However, it was the best thing I EVER did for our family. We saw things I never thought I would see in my lifetime. Because of that, we decided to open centers near our home so we could help more families. We invested our own time and money and LOTS Of energy to build and develop multiple centers so more families could experience the life changing things that we did. We don’t take profit home – we use it all to develop more centers so more families can get the help they need. I did not need a job or a business and it has been hard on our family to do this, but it has been totally worth it. Now we have helped hundreds and hundreds of families! I can honestly say that we have NEVER had a child not improve. Sometimes parents are looking for an end result and if they don’t get exactly that, they can miss all the little things along the way. But there are always developmental improvements. I could give you information for tons of parents that will tell you exactly what I just did – that this program is amazing and worth every bit of time and money you put into it. My advice is to do your research, go to your closest center, at least do an assessment and then talk to tons of parents (your center will give you numbers and call other centers if you wish) but they will tell you the same as I did. I would recommend reading my blog that I wrote during the program. I documented every change and it is VERY detailed. http://ourbrainbalancejourney.blogspot.com/…/where-do-i… Also you can go to our Website for our Utah centers and read quite a few testimonials on there of our kids. We have a lot more, but that is all that is on there right now! http://www.brainbalanceutah.com/the-results/ There will always be negative things out there about everything. I am just glad I did my research and saw that there is WAY more good that bad and I am glad I listed to what the parents were saying. They are the only ones that know what we are going through each day and they are the ones that have the first hand knowledge of what can happen with this amazing program. It truly saved my life. If you are interested, I am always happy to talk on the phone to anyone that wants to talk about this program. I can also find you more moms to talk to as well.

  20. I had a difficult time in finding a review on Brain Balance that gave me reliable information so I decided to do my own live research. I first stalked participants at the local Brain Balance and interviewed them. After hearing their positive stories I decided I would give it a go with my ADHD daughter. Still being a skeptic and sympathizing with those who are looking all over the internet for a reliable review, I started a blog. My blog details every visit at Brain Balance and what I see as a parent. I also record conversations I have with parents while in the waiting room. It has been just over 2 weeks and I have seen an increase in athletic ability and little bit of improvement in self-awareness. Of course I didn’t pay $6,000 for her to better at shooting a basketball, but we still have 10 weeks left. I don’t know if Brain Balance is going to cure my daughter of ADHD as they promised, but whether it works or not I want the world to know about it. My blog is at http://brainbalancereview.blogspot.com/

    • Many thanks for this Karen – fascinating stuff. This is the first time I’ve sen real detailed information about what actually happens during a Brain Balance program, so it’s really valuable stuff. I’ll be following it closely! Best of luck to you and your daughter too.

      • Debbie Merlin Craig

        She needed to have looked into their file of fraud lawsuits against them in the USA.

        Sent from my iPad

        >

  21. Karen, Fabulous! I’m so glad you are documenting the program as your daughter moves through it. This is exactly the kind of nuts and bolts research that is lacking in the original Neural Bollocks review, and those cited by others he cited. I’m curious about your daughter’s nutritional program in connection with the BB program.

    You mention in your blog that you have removed dairy and eggs from her diet. Does that mean you aren’t removing anything else? For example gluten, soy, additives, preservatives, dyes, MSG, processed sugars and flours, etc? If so, I’m afraid you may not see the quality of results that you hope for. But perhaps you are already feeding her primarily whole and unprocessed foods, as per the smoothie regimen after braces. I am curious, because the diet changes were among the most helpful springboards for us personally, as both of my sons went through the program in Utah last Fall.

    Also, if you are comfortable disclosing, what state are you homeschooling in? We are home schoolers too.

    Our blog diary on the subject: http://www.brainbalancing@wordpress.com

    P.S. A detailed assessment tool is included in Melillo’s book “Disconnected Kids, along with precise illustrations of exercises and benchmarks they are shooting for in the BB program. Just in case you don’t have the time or inclination to reproduce the whole student workbook in your blog. I think it’s reasonable to expect any thorough researcher to have at least perused the book as a starting point in evaluating the BB program.:)

  22. I was tired of reading on these so called experts that not one (unless I missed it) actually talked to the subjects and or parents that went through the program. I’m a neuro physical therapist and many of the processes used at the Brain Balance Centers (the BBC’s use more adjunct therapies that I would love to incorporate with my patients but just don’t have those credentials for now) have been used for years in treating head injuries, strokes etc… I have spoken to the parents of children having gone through the BBC’s and I have known 2 children prior to that and all I can say is you’re entitled to your narrow opinion but before you trash someone’s hope for help talk to the parents and children. Not every therapy works for every person as not every diet works for everyone.

  23. Thought I’d add this happy article of research that just came out of UC San Francisco to your commentary here. These findings appear to be supportive of Melillo’s research and at least one founding premise of his Brain Balance program, which is that the children enrolling in his centers are suffering from a fundamental (or we might say “functional”) disconnection problem in their brains. Admittedly, it is a small study, which needs to be replicated on a larger scale. But it is ground-breaking nonetheless, showing that SPD has a discernable biological basis. Our SF friends have discovered abnormalities in the white matter of the brain of boys with SPD, which is preventing the two hemispheres from working together as they should.

    Here is an excerpt from the linked article, describing kids with SPDs. This is a population with which Robert Melillo and those running his Brain Balance Centers are intimately acquainted:

    “Most people don’t know how to support these kids because they don’t fall into a traditional clinical group,” said Elysa Marco, MD, who led the study along with postdoctoral fellow Julia Owen, PhD. Marco is a cognitive and behavioral child neurologist at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, ranked among the nation’s best and one of California’s top-ranked centers for neurology and other specialties, according to the 2013-2014 U.S. News & World Report Best Children’s Hospitals survey.

    “Sometimes they are called the ‘out of sync’ kids. Their language is good, but they seem to have trouble with just about everything else, especially emotional regulation and distraction. In the real world, they’re just less able to process information efficiently, and they get left out and bullied,” said Marco, who treats affected children in her cognitive and behavioral neurology clinic.

    “If we can better understand these kids who are falling through the cracks, we will not only help a whole lot of families, but we will better understand sensory processing in general. This work is laying the foundation for expanding our research and clinical evaluation of children with a wide range of neurodevelopmental challenges – stretching beyond autism and ADHD,” she said.

    Melillo has been keeping these kids from falling through the cracks for a number of years. Thousands of SPD children and their families have been helped and even cured of this disease, due to their participation in the Brain Balance program.

    http://www.ucsf.edu/news/2013/07/107316/breakthrough-study-reveals-biological-basis-sensory-processing-disorders-kidsi

  24. I have just learned of this place here in San Antonio, Texas. I made an appointment for an initial evaluation for my daughter for next week. I am hardly able to afford this program. So, over the next week I’m going to have to ‘find’ the money for this assessment. I am very concerned that BB doesn’t accept health insurance. My daughter being diagnosed with ADHD is an accepted health/medical issue. I’ve gone thru so much hell to keep my daughter insured. Then something I need so desperately, like this, doesn’t accept it ?!?!?! Just why is that ???

    I am wary of ‘franchises’ that prey on my (and other parents’) emotions and desperation to help my child. Therefore, I understand parents being desperate to get the results they are paying for. Me, I don’t like people playing fast and loose with the credentials they have, especially under these circumstances. Brain Balance has been around long enough to get these credentials in place. Why hasn’t that happened ???

    I don’t doubt that some families will get good results from doing something different. This may be just what I need for my daughter. That being the case, I’d be much more comfortable if I could trust the background of those providing this service…

    I thank you NeuroBollocks for the info you’ve provided in this blog. I also thank those for the info they’ve provided in response. If anyone out there is so positive in their support for Brain Balance Center that they don’t mind paying for my daughter’s assessment, I would shamelessly accept… :o)

    • Hi – thanks for your comment, and sorry to hear about your daughter’s diagnosis. To my mind, Brain Balance has pretty much zero credibility in terms of the credentials of the people behind it, and also zero credibility in terms of the evidence they’ve provided to show that their program works. As you say, they’ve been around for a while now, so why haven’t they provided any good evidence? I’m afraid I don’t know much about the US healthcare/insurance system, but I’d imagine the reason that insurers won’t cover things like Brain Balance is that they will only cover ‘proper’ medical treatment programs – which Brain Balance clearly is not.

      Of course I’m not going to tell you what to do about your daughter’s condition, or what to do with your money, but if you do decide to give Brain Balance a try, then approach it with an open mind and a pinch of scepticism. Ask them for data and statistics about their results, and ask them for evidence about their program. If they can’t or won’t provide that kind of information, for me, that would be a big red flag.

      An alternative idea (really – just a suggestion) would be to find a properly accredited child psychologist in your local area with experience in working with kids with ADHD. You might even be able to find one that accepts your insurance and be able to save some money as well… Whatever you decide to do, if you wanted to let me know how you get on, that would be great – up to you though.

      The very best wishes to you and your daughter,

      NB.

  25. You sound like a very angry person. You need to work on that, rather than blasting a program that helps kids.

    • I totally agree Fran. What else do they recommend for parents who are desperate to help their children be TRULY helped and successful in life, not just medicated with TONS of dangerous side effects. Yes, the grades go up…..but other factors get worse. Let me guess…..a stimulant medication or other big pharma bank roll.

      • Absolutely not. American children are ridiculously over-medicated, and drugs should always be the absolute last resort. I’d recommend that you find a properly qualified and APA-accredited child psychologist.

  26. I think it’s pertinent to mention here – Martin Stites is a part owner of a Brain Balance Center in Encino, CA since 2010. One would think with his medical background and “study sciencey stuff”, he would think it pertinent to mention his bias up front. Furthermore, other than a Bachelor’s in Health Sciences, none of his other medical affiliations could be found an any search. Furthermore, as a resident of Florida, I could not find his name attached to any of the reputable (well any) Florida rehab centers in the 90’s and I’d certainly argue that being the director of one would give someone somewhere his name on it. Even more so – none of this is even listed on his bio on his own website and lists nothing but his degree in which he lists a “doctorate”. An outright lie.

    If you ask me, he goes hand in hand with Mellilo. He openly flips around the “flim flam” words in his “treatment options” and claims to be able to “test the brain” in his private practice that he can fix with chiropractic therapy or tossing out the completely unscientific and repeatedly discredited “Functional Blood Chemistry Analysis”.

    Sadly, too many snake oil salesmen calling themselves doctors – it should be a crime. As someone with a child with mental illness, too many of my friends and other parents fall for this stuff in desperate attempts, parting them with hard earned money they could be using on OT, PT and actual neuropsych doctors with ACTUAL training in mental health.

    I thank you for this article and I thank you for sourcing it so well and dedicating yourself to the responses you handled candidly. What’s sad is that with a few basic things that are taught in the first few weeks of regular OT for kids with mental illness and 90% quackery, parents think “I see an improvement!”. If they spent those thousands on real doctors, they’d see far greater improvement with lasting changes as opposed to ones that paint lipstick on a pig for 6 weeks thinking that because their kid has learned something just a little (and they are paying closer attention to them and implementing things a nutritionist would tell you if a parent would go to one – another great thing for the money they spend on quackery) that somehow the program is a success…. or they are convinced of it because they paid so much money, they can’t admit nothing of substantial improvement happened.

    Far too often, I see the testimonials mention nothing of seeing ANY of these specialists beforehand. I also have very serious concerns over their pushing “nutrients” and “aminos” in the form of vitamin pills – that are not at all regulated, have been found to have dangerous compounds in them and for the vast majority do absolutely nothing. Placebo effects work on parents too.

  27. BTW, I’m also (in a position as a mother of a mental ill child) extremely irritated Martin has on his resume “Functional Neurologist” and “Neurologist”. He is no such thing and it ticks me off to no end he is hijacking neurologist – someone who has to go through a decade or more of medical schooling and training. This goes with Melillo’s horrible attempts at hijacking medical training in his title – he has none either.

    https://www.linkedin.com/pub/martin-stites/3a/34b/b62

  28. I am not a doctor but a regular joe, and i will tell you one thing. Medicine and doctors are awuful. And as a mother of a 4 year old, battling day to day to understand why is that my son could be autistic? Ill do anything, ill try anything that has worked for people in the past. And i believe in western medicine less and less, because they dont have an answer or a cure for autism. So whatever works. Brain balance seems promising and reading you makes me wanna do it even more, because when you need to arm yourself with explanations about why something wont work, maybe deep inside you are wondering, who is that medically possible? And you know what? You wont find the answer. Certain programs work, because no matter how much you studied, you will never know why.

    • I agree!! That’s why I tried. My son has Aspergers. However for some reason ASD is easier to some up so that’s what he was diagnosed with. No insurance company will pay for this place because they won’t make money. And doctors will discourage it because they can’t make money from writing scripts. This place is a blessing and I know from first hand experience with other parents at the center, this place has the long term solution not a temporary fix

  29. Mary (@Seola1) – thank you for your comments, from one mother to another. I too am absolutely stunned by Melillo’s fraudulent use of the word “neurologist” in an attempt to fool others into believing he’s a medical doctor who has gone through medical school, residency and medical board certification. Nothing can be further from the truth involving those that call themselves “chiropractic neurologists” and then refer to themselves as “Dr.s” – most of which have been trained by another Dr. imposter by the name of Carrick (who claims to have not been licensed in Florida but runs a school there for chiropractors).

    There are currently several of these chiropractic “neurologists” trying to claim that they can cure serious traumatic brain injuries … I wish law enforcement including States Attorneys and the FBI would look into these specious claims and start prosecuting those that are trying to fleece and deceive vulnerable patients and families who hold onto hope for a miracle cure. Those that abuse the title of “Dr.” do not hold such cures and lack the training to even comment upon the diagnosis of brain injuries.

    To those researching chiropractic “neurologists” – be very very wary of spending your hard earned money on treatments that have NO DATA or studies that can prove what they claim. There is a sucker born every minute, don’t be one of them.

  30. Mary, this is Martin. This was my week in my office. I diagnosed MS, early Parkinson’s, and a multi systemic autoimmune condition. These three individuals have already seen multiple MD’s. These three individuals are now REFERRED to the PROPER MD’s. These three people have been struggling for about a 3 months to a year. Now they are in good hands. Two are at UCLA and one is at Cedars.
    My job is to know what I am looking at, and do whats best for the patient. Have a great day.

  31. So, Mary what I am suggesting here—is that it’s good as a Chiropractor to take further education to better oneself. “Functional Neurology” allows a Chiropractor to know or suspect what he/she is looking at for treatment or referral. If you are suggesting I fail to refer to the appropriate clinician, you are mistaken.
    Have I referred to MD’s, Neurologist, Neurosurgeon, ENT’s, and Pain management specialist——–yes.
    With children, have I referred to Neurologist, MD’s, Psychiatrist, PT,OT and ST—–yes.
    Do I refer for medication purposes and talk to MD’s about meds—-HELL YES and they are grateful —–because it helps the patient!!!!!!!

    Each case is different and you do whats best for the patient. As for expressing my son’s gains in the Brain Balance Center and you finding fault with that——and calling biased——Shame Shame Shame.

    I guess I should mention all the gains he made with his PT and OT and the doctors who saved his life at UCLA. The neurosurgeon who saved his life after a brain infection by removing his shunt. It’s a cumulative effect that has made my son’s success. Brain Balance helped him learn and read better. You did not mention that I had an independent study to confirm his results.

    Rehab director of Merritt Island, Fl. National Healthcare. Boss: Leslie Williams. She is still there. It’s a different name now.

    Its funny that I am the ONLY one stating what I do here and the blogger remains quiet.

    Thanks—gotta work.

    • Oh, I’m still here, I’m just not seeing much point in responding any more. You clearly have a great deal of medical knowledge, and it’s great that you refer your patients on to the correct places to get the treatment they need. I’ve met enough idiot doctors in my time to know that it’s not just formal qualifications that are important. This is what makes it all the more baffling to me that you swallow the BB schtick so easily. Doesn’t your medical knowledge lead you to think that maybe they just don’t know what they’re talking about? If it’s so effective and amazing, why haven’t they published any evidence? These are the key questions for me.

  32. So I guess the only thing that “works” or is not a “quack” or pseudo science judging from this site are the big pharma drugs, which don’t do anything to really help cure the problems. They just make more big money for big pharma to the detriment of our kids. We deserve better choices. I guess this site is owned by drug companies. Good guess. I hope people have their eyes open.

    • Linda – I *wish* I was a big pharma shill – maybe then I wouldn’t be driving a ten year old car and struggling with my mortgage. ;o)

      Seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever recommended drug treatments on these pages, for anything, so I don’t know why you’ve got that idea. For the record, I’d recommend evidence-based psychological therapies like cognitive-behaviour therapy as a first-line treatment, with drugs being very much the treatment of last resort.

      • Mary and Martin represent two very different schools of thought. Both are obviously intelligent people. But the former seems not to be able to discern the value of exploring altenative medicine.

        Let’s take one idea from the homeopathic community that has been endlessly derided by the establishment: that a leaky gut plays a huge part in exacerbating SPD and Autim symptoms. Holistic practitioners have acted on this by recommending a GAPS diet, in order to heal the leaky gut, and thereby ameliorate the condition. Well finally the scientific community is starting to catch on. But ten years ago, GAPS dieters and those recommending it were seen as quacks. It always takes the mainstreamers ridiculous amounts of time to acknowledge they are wrong. Western medicine, with its focus on pathology and drug solutions, is simply NOT capable of healing many diseases.

        A person can have a litany of medical or therapeutic degrees, represented by a long list of letters at the end of their name, and still have absolutely no gift for healing people. How much time do you think MDs spend, in their DECADE of schooling, on nutritional healing? As I mentioned in an earlier post, parents of neuro-atypical children (like Martin) know more about their child’s conditions then their doctors do. A thorough researcher will find that solutions are abundant in non-mainstream schhols of thought.

        Where Brain Balance Centers succeed and others do not, is in assisting parents to act on what they already know, which is that their high-functioning ASD and SPD kids need to eat in a way that will heal their gut, remove other exacerbating toxins which affect neuro-functioning. They give parents the support and tools needed to help their kids engage in daily repetitive exercises that strengthen vestbular, proprioceptive, and core muscle systems in their kids’ bodies, which rewires the brain, and allows the two hemispheres to work together. Science has shown that functional disconnection is what’s going on with these kids.

        As Martin acknowledged, BBCenters don’t help all families, with varying conditions. But for ASD, ADHD, SPD, and a few other neuro conditions, like OCD, this treatment can help tremendously. At least read Melillo’s books! How hard can it be, people? Survey the literature.

        It’s inexplicable to me that anyone would dismiss a program that is clearly working, simply because those who came up with it were physical therapists and chiropractors, and not the elite of Western medicine neurology, or Ivy league researchers. And yet the latter are beginning to take notice, and employ similar interventions in their programs.

  33. The problem with bloggers and PhD’s is that they have very little practical application. Here is a blogger, probably a PhD, that sits back and states something does not work and there is NO science. Then, when you offer a personal testimonial and some research——-the response is “not good research” or “you are a person that has fallen for a scam”. I can sit here, cut and paste paper after paper of neurological pathways, case studies, and research—but to get a response of “no” all the time is a waste of time. If I was a non-clinician and reading this blog, I would see several aspects.
    One, this blogger offers very little hope for anything. Two, he offers no open dialogue to solve solutions. Other than, CBT, which is nothing more than self regulation of the DLPFC to the Cingluate gyrus. All in all, I pasted that mechanism out early on in the discussion and he dismissed it.The blogger is monolithic in thought and ask parents to sit and wait for a meta-analysis study to come out before you try anything new. CBT and drugs are OK ????? That is exactly what you are saying. This is a complete and biased approach. Have you seen the long term effects of drugs from the Canadian study—probably not.

    I am not against medication or CBT, I actually asked one of my parents last night to talk to their doctor about a certain medication for their child and that I was available for consult.
    Blogger, you have no idea about me or my practice. You have very little help for the children subjected to these disorders.
    As a parent and a DOCTOR that offers accepted neurological and dietary concepts for the best interest of the family, —-I view you as a person that positions yourself as a authoritative figure——that offers very little hope and cannot look outside of your own box.
    I think most every family KNOWS the box. It’s just getting worse, not better.

    Beware of a person that puts himself in an Authoritative position and says NO to all that is not his. You scare me !!!

    • I am new to this site. But stumbled upon it after seeing a commercial about BB and decided to do some research myself, albeit just on Google and Google reviews 😉 I’ve also read EVERY comment posted and felt like I needed to state my own OPINION.

      To start, I am NOT a Dr nor would I ever try and portray myself as one. I can say that the medical field does highly fascinate me, and I wish I would have had the drive and ambition to further my education after high school and attend medical school. So yes, other than trying to attend a “community care” college for a surgical technician program, (which I didn’t finish because I became a single mother, of 2 small children and pregnant with my 3rd, overnight and had to choose to work to support my little family alone instead of continuing school) I am merely a young single mother under 30, of 3 beautiful children, who only graduated high school. So please excuse me if I sound very “slow and uneducated” in this comment, because I am only a person who works in the aircraft industry 😉

      I have a 7 yr old son who has been diagnosed with ADHD and ODD, and another 5 yr old son who has been diagnosed with ADHD and OCD. And being a single mother, with out really having a strong father figure in their lives, I am desperate to try anything to rebalance my home with my children to where it’s a peaceful, loving environment for them to be raised in. Instead, I feel like all I do is rant and scream and try and control their behaviors with the “bully” technique. You know, the technique of “I’m the parent, you’re the child. You will listen to/ do what I say and respect me!” technique. And before I get all kinds of comments saying that I’m damaging my children worse than what they already are by goin this route, let me state that I know this isn’t the way a child should be raised. I love them more than anything in this world and want nothing more than the best for my children. and dont resort to spanking. It’s not that I don’t “believe” in spankings, because I was raised with spankings. I just don’t feel like it does anything but crush my children more (because yes, they have received a spanking or 2 in their lives). I also don’t believe they deserve to be spanked for them not being able to control their disabilities. It’s just a never ending “tug of war” battle between the both of them (who usually tag team me) and I. I’VE LITERALLY TRIED EVERY OTHER ANGLE POSSIBLE and nothing has worked. So now I’m stuck in the cycle of we yell, then they run all over me, and I end up crying by the end of almost every night at my wits end trying to find that magical person who can “fix” my family. Don’t get me wrong here, I’m WELL aware that it’s not only my children who need help to manage their diagnoses. I’ve also included myself into my own single therapy, family therapy, parenting classes, CBT…..etc. I reluctantly even resorted to the medication route for my oldest son, which I quickly noticed that he was no longer my son. When he would go into a rage and end up under the principals desk at school in the fetal position fearing someone was trying to hurt him, and didn’t even recognize his own mother while I laid on the floor with him, trying to comfort him and calm him down, I decided medication was NOT good for my child and quickly had the Dr take him off of them. This was 3 yrs ago, so needless to say it’s been a long, hard road from then on. And it seems like it’ll never get better, no matter how much money I spend and how accredited the Dr is. We do have “good days” where they listen and behave quite well and I couldn’t be prouder as their mother. But they are few and far between. So when I saw the commercial for BB, I started my research. And I will say, this is NOT the only site that puts this “dr” into question. And yes, after reading these sites and reviews (and even all the good reviews, which I am so happy for those families and their children and you are truly blessed to have found something that has worked for you!) I am just really uncomfortable to hand my money over to a chiropractor who claims to be able to “cure” my children of their ADHD, ODD and OCD. Those are neurological disorders, not a misaligned spine. I mean, I’d NEVER hire a police officer to stand in front of a judge and fight in the court of law for me. Yes, they both work in the field of law. BUT ONE IS ONLY QUALIFIED TO DO THE JOB! Make sense?! And again, I’m not trying to discredit anyone or the success stories that have come from children attending these sessions. I am truly grateful for those families that they have had that success and have regained some kind of balance in their lives. I wish I was also in that category with all of you. But being a single parent with no financial assistance from ananyone else (it’s just my salary that carries our family. Which is only $30,000/ yr), if I were going to invest that much money into a program to help my children with their neurological issues, I WANT A BOARD CERTIFIED DR THAT HAS A DEGREE AND ACCREDITATIONS IN THAT SPECIFIC FIELD! Not someone who passes himself off as anything but what he really is. And believe you me, I admire chiropractic care. I see one regularly and he has prevented me from having a very agonizing neck surgery that would result in a LONG and painful (not even full) recovery. But in my own opinion, I don’t see how a chiropractor could “help” my children with issues concerning their brains.

      I also have very good health insurance. It covers every aspect of care in the medical field, and I’m able to seek out the best Dr’s in the world to help my children. My biggest concern (other than the accreditations of the Dr of course) with BB is, if this program was so “groundbreaking” and they were so good at helping children with these sort of disabilities, then why the hell are they not recognized by the insurance companies enough that they would be assisted in helping these families with the payments?! Any surgery or treatment to medically help my children and I are covered by my insurance. So this puts ALOT of doubt in my mind as to how accredited this program really is within the medical community. Again, not trying to say it would NEVER work for some families. Just stating that if it were truly recognized within the medical community as an amazing technique to help all these different aspects of the brain, then why hasn’t the insurance companies jumped aboard and grabbed hold? They would benefit greatly if it was.

      So these are the reasons that I feel like it is more of a scam for desperate parents looking for anything to help their children who are visibly pained and frustrated with trying to get along with every day activities. We hate to see our children this way and would give our own lives to see to it that they no longer had to suffer with any of this. Well, at least I know I would. I just don’t feel like this would be the magical “fix all” I’ve been looking for, and it’s more about throwing my money into the pocket of these people who own this franchise. I don’t see how in the world one single program can “cure” them in a short few months when we have been working so hard and diligently for yrs (which we’ve made ALOT of progress and are better than we were when we started) to try and figure out different techniques and treatments to manage their diagnoses. So I’m really glad I stumbled upon this blog. Before this one I was still swaying toward calling for an assesment. Now I know to just stick with the treatments and things we have been doing and to keep praying. AND BE MORE PATIENT! One day my kids and I will be there. We will get to where we want to be, and be happy without all the chaos. It’s just going to take us a lot of work to get there. We’ve already come so far, and I’ll never give up on trying to find other ways to help support the work we have already done!

      Again, I didn’t write this to stir up any fights on the blog. I honestly don’t care to argue and fight with anyone on here (I do that enough at home with my children) it’s simply just a waste of time and too exhausting to me 😉 it’s just a comment where I have stated my own opinion about my own personal research. And yes, the only research I have done is on Google and from reviews of other parents who have taken their children to this place. So definitely havent read any medical or scientific studies on it, even though according to plenty of people, i wouldnt be able to find any. There is a lot of good and help that has come to families and their children from BB, but I have personally read more bad and discrediting than good. Which is why I have the opinion I do. Thank you for writing this and helping me sway back over to the other side of the fence, so I didn’t throw myself into extreme debt because I’m a desperate single parent trying to find a faster way for my children to find relief. Thank you for taking the time to read my opinions and God bless you all! And I’ll continue to pray for you all and your children that you will continue to see the progress and success that you have received so far!

      • And to add to my comment, here’s a great article that states the skepticism from REAL accredited Dr’s that just settles it all for me:

        http://m.jsonline.com/business/108047584.html

        I found it truly interesting that the EXACT basis of BB’s claims are discredited right here, by the TRUE medical professionals in this field of study. Hope you enjoy this read! 😉

      • Rachel –

        Just a thought — The program is detailed out in the book “Disconnected Kids”.

        http://www.amazon.com/Disconnected-Kids-Groundbreaking-Neurological-Disorders/dp/0399535608/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1420759202&sr=8-1&keywords=disconnected+kids

        It has the home program all in there. It is like $10 or you can probably get a library. While I do not feel it is a substitute for the program at the center, it does give you all the background information on the program, the exercises, and the lifestyle changes to do at home. The reason I say it is not a substitute for the program in the center is that it is difficult to implement on your own without support from the center and to be consistent. Just from my own experience, my kids listen to other people better than me so it is easier to get my son to do the exercises if someone else asks him to do them. Also all the lifestyle and dietary changes are hard to implement without some guidance, support, and people to help you stay on track.

        So if you feel you would not be able to afford the program, the book may be able to help you and your family. While you may not get the full benefit of the actual in-center program, you may learn some things you can do at home on your own that will help like dietary changes, lifestyle changes, program exercises, primitive reflex exercises (which you can search for on Youtube and see videos on how to do), and music your kids can listen to.

        I will state again that I truly believe that this program works. It definitely did for my child and I have seen it first hand work for dozens of other children. It is not magic, nor a cure-all. It is a lot of hard work. It also has nothing to do with spinal adjustments. It is based on very specific exercises, dietary changes, and lifestyle changes that are tailored for each child that help make changes in their brains that helps them.

        If you would like to read about my son’s experience, here is a link to the review I did on Yelp:

        http://www.yelp.com/biz/brain-balance-achievement-center-allendale

        Also here is the video testimonial I did a while back that talks about how the program helped my son with actual video clips of him before and after the program:

        You can also go to this link to see a bunch of testimonials from other parents from the Brain Balance Center that my son went to:

        I wish you and your family the best of luck.

        Priscilla

      • Sometimes you have to step on faith. A degree does not always make a person more qualified. Expert Doctors don’t even know what to do about Autism. When you received the diagnosis for your children did your pediatrician make recommendations? What options did the professions give you? The people behind BBcenters invested time into researching Autism ADHD OCD etc. You mentioned being a single mother and I know that affects time you can spend with your children. BB helps to bring a bond within your home because it requires you to change the dynamics of your home. You have to make time to do exercise. You can’t just pick something up from McDonalds(not saying you do that). You narrow down screen time to 1hr so with small children you find new games to play. It brings a great deal of change for everyone. I hope you find something that works for you.

  34. My son(6) began BB in Sept.2014. When he started my son was struggling in school. Although he is extremely gifted he has not been able to display this in testing because his diagnosis(ASD/Aspergers) makes it hard for him to stay on task. my son took a STAR literacy test at school and scored 703/900. Pretty good right. He was tested again about a month after BB and scored 846/900. My son struggled with proper eye contact and appropriate conversations with peers. Since starting BB he is turn taking in conversation, and he shows interest outside of his normal obsession with Letters numbers and shapes. My son NEVER engaged in pretend play or even played with his sister(3). Now they are best friends. I am not a BB rep nor am I “time-poor…cash rich). I am just a mom who was tired of hearing that there really wasn’t anything I could do about autism. That my child would have it forever and my options included medication and continued therapy. I call bullshit. Anytime someone comes up with a cure “experts” magically appear to debunk it. I had to say something because BB really does work. Everyone at the center truly cares for my child. He is a different kid. I was a skeptic, especially with the cheesy “Brain Balance changed my life” commercials, but I am convinced. By the way my 6yr old Autistic child is an honest Abe. He won’t say something unless it’s the truth there is no gray area for him. He feels and expresses emotion that he never knew before. Again I am not rich but I would spend every dollar I have in order to see my son live med free life as “normal” as possible and stand out because he is “different” in a positive way.

    • vjones – I agree with you. I call bullshit too! I was told the same exact thing by “expert doctors” – my son would have autism forever and there was nothing I could do but medicate him (with Risperdal -which in now on the “bad drug” list for growing breasts in boys – at 4 years old!) and hope for the best… I thank God everyday that I did not listen to them and did what I felt was best. Every single penny we spent on Brain Balance was worth it.

  35. If you want a more non-bias review, here is my entire experience in a blog…http://brainbalancereview.blogspot.com/
    Bottom line, there were significant improvements but I did not get all the results promised and their before and after assessments were not scientifically sound.

  36. The BB program DOES work and you’re a nut case for stating ‘your opinion’ without a single shred of actual hands on knowledge of the subject. HOW DARE YOU! If someone who needs help for their child stumbles upon your ignorant rant while he/she is researching BB, you could very well be responsible for that parent not getting the very help that he/she needs for that child!!! My child has been in the program for about 6 weeks and the IMPROVEMENT IS AMAZING! I speak from experience……..where exactly are you speaking from? You should seriously consider removing this post in its entirety before you do more damage than you may have already done.

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  39. If someone made me wear goggles with a flashing light in one or both eyes, I would get a migraine. If someone had photosensitive epilepsy, they would have a seizure. I hope the BBCs screen for these conditions.

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  41. Fire is hot and it burns. Oh wait I don’t have an advanced doctoral degree and empirical data from a double blind study and random demographic control group to validate my hypothesis with a non-biased peer review! What I see going on, especially in the USA, and this is only observable data..is that the American Medical Association disregards any threat to it’s patrons money earning potential. Its the gorilla that’s been in the room since they tried to debunk chiropractics which if I had listened to my MD I would have C5 and C6 fused, on pain meds and on physical therapy for the rest of my life. I guess I am of the “rare” Majority of success cases from chiropractics, diet and exercise. I am calling out the (Western) medical profession as a self perpetuating oligarchy. In the west people get fat, go to the doctors, get meds, get surgery and the cycle goes on until death, we commoners call it the “trap life” but we are on to the AMA and their unethical shenanigans. Luckily enough this “sickness” has not made it way to Asia…yet.
    I hope you had a great long weekend, oh wait every weekend is a long weekend for an MD what am I saying?
    Occam’s Razor = Laziness due to egotism and intellectual snobbery.

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  43. My mother spent thousands upon thousands of dollars on Brain Balance for 3 children. She swears it helps “a little”. No, it didn’t. Not enough for her to have spent the amount of money that she did. She should have saved that money for her retirement and to care for my ASD/mentally impaired brother when she passes. I am outraged that fake “doctors” and “neurologists” are able to make claims and advertised the way they do. This is fraud. I do not agree with medicating if at all possible, etc but I feel that BB preys upon people who are searching for better for their children. If it works for some, wonderful! However, don’t make false claims, be honest/ethical, disclose when their could be a conflict of interest. The fact that so many Brain Balance involved people have come here to comment at length raises at kinds of red flags for me. It is almost cult-like and has really turned me OFF.

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  45. My son is currently in the program. We had him in Speech Therapy for over two years with absolutely no results. He has only been in Brain Balance for 8 weeks now and I can honestly say he has had more positive progress with his speech than every before. Every week we see more and more improvements. I really think it helps. As a mom who refuses to medicate her son, I feel blessed to have another option. My husband is a Physician Assistant. He went to school for many years. He works at a local family practice and after seeing our son’s positive changes he really believes in the program too.

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