RELATIVE EFFICACY OF RITALIN AND BIOFEEDBACK TREATMENTS ON HYPERACTIVITY
POTASHKIN, BETH DONNA
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This study is concerned with the relative efficacy of Ritalin and biofeedback treatments in the management of hyperactivity. Four major definitions of hyperactivity are presented. Neuropsychological models of causation are discussed. In view of the apparent inadequate functioning of the inhibitory processes in the central nervous system, biofeedback-assisted relaxation is proposed as a way of teaching alternate means of self-control. Three questions examine the efficacy of biofeedback and Ritalin treatments in reducing hyperactivity as reflected in muscular electrical activity and as observed by teachers and parents. A fourth question asks whether hyperactive children exhibit low self-concept and whether biofeedback is more effective than Ritalin in raising self-concept.;Eighteen male subjects between the ages of 10-13 were assigned to three groups matched by age, IQ, and race.The biofeedback group received ten sessions of EMG-assisted training over a six-week period. Subjects in the Ritalin group received an average dosage of 30 mg. per diem. A control group was seen for ten sessions over a six-week period. EMG readings, the Conners Teacher Rating Scale, the Werry-Weiss-Peters Scale for ratings by parents, the Zukow Parent Rating Scale and the Piers-Harris Self-Concept Scale were used to measure treatment efficacy.;Results indicated that biofeedback-assisted relaxation can significantly reduce muscle tension levels in hyperactive children, whereas neither Ritalin nor personal attention produces significant change. On teacher ratings of hyperactivity significant improvement was made by the biofeedback and control groups. Parent ratings indicated significant improvement by subjects in all groups. Subjects in this sample did not exhibit low self-concept relative to stated norms; however, biofeedback proved to be significantly more effective in raising self-concept than was Ritalin or personal attention.;The implications of these findings are discussed with particular emphasis on the improvement shown by subjects in the control group. The role of specific and non-specific treatment effects on these results is examined. The implications of these results on questions concerning the definiton and diagnosis of hyperactivity are presented. Consideration is also given to the characteristics of the sample employed in the study, i.e., to older hyperactive children of poverty-level economic status and to the possible developmental nature of hyperactivity.
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