For years, parents, doctors and educators have sought a definitive test to determine if a child has ADHD. Millions and millions of wishes and prayers later, it appears there is a test which will make the diagnosis more accurate.
A new test approved by the U. S. Food and Drug Administration on July 16th could give doctors a better idea of whether a child is suffering from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Called the Neuropsychiatric EEG-Based Assessment Aid (NEBA) System, the test measures electrical impulses given off by neurons in the brain. It is the first medical device of its kind to help diagnose the neurobehavioral disorder in children and teens.
The rates of ADHD have shown a steady increase over time. According to a survey from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 9.5% of American children, ages 4 – 17, have been diagnosed with ADHD.
The 15 – 20 minute test calculates the ratio of brain wave frequencies known as theta and beta waves in children 6 – 17. An EEG records electrical impulses given off by nerve cells by recording the number of times the signals are given off each second.
A release from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states: The theta/beta ratio has been shown to be higher in children and adolescents with ADHD than in children without it.
Thomas Rugino, a neuro-developmental pediatrician at the Children’s Specialized Hospital in Toms River, said. Because the diagnosis (of ADHD) is often not straightforward, and is never a quick five-minute evaluation, this should be an important tool for clinicians to use to help decide who may need more evaluation. The problem doctors often face is trying to determine whether common symptoms like lack of attention and inability to focus represent ADHD or some other ailment such as depression, bi-polar disorder or anxiety disorder. The test could allow a doctor to solve that problem.
The test is not meant to be a stand-alone test. It works best when used with other clinical assessments used for ADHD such as behavioral questionnaires, behavioral and I.Q. testing and physical exams.
Kids with ADHD often have trouble paying attention, controlling impulsive behaviors and/or are overly active. Symptoms may also include daydreaming, being easily distracted from schoolwork or play, forgetting things, talking too much, acting and speaking without thinking, not being able to play quietly, interrupting others and squirming or fidgeting.
It has yet to be determined whether the theta/beta ratio would hold true for adults who might have ADHD as only children have been studied thus far.