Traumatic Brain Injury

Miraculous Recovery from Traumatic Brain Injury

With LENS Neurofeedback Therapy

by Charles Spillar on Feb. 01, 2011

The revolutionary new non-drug treatment for Traumatic Brain Injury, neurofeedback, has once again proven highly effective. Local Tucson resident, Ken Willingham, is a new testimonial of the benefits of neurofeedback therapy.

On December 29, 2003, while on vacation, Ken rode his Ducati motorcycle into a K-Mart parking lot when suddenly a speeding automobile crashed into his motorcycle, crushing his helmet and knocking him unconscious before speeding off. The hit and run driver has never been found. The accident happened about 12:30 p.m. that day.

Fortunately someone saw Mr. Willingham and the wreckage of his motorcycle and called an emergency ambulance rushing him to the University Medical Center to save his life. His wife did not find out about the accident until after 6:30 p.m. that evening. He was unconscious for a long period and when able to gain consciousness he could not remember anything about the accident. He was diagnosed with moderate to severe Traumatic Brain Injury. The top-of-the-line helmet he was wearing at the time of the accident was completely destroyed.

At the hospital he had zero memory for several weeks and was eventually moved to Health South for rehabilitation. He was there for three weeks and eventually after 40 days gained some memory back. His wife Barbara Stahura has written a journal on the entire experience as it happened. Besides the TBI he was diagnosed with a stable occipitocervical facture of the spine and was fitted with a neck brace. He had to wear the brace for 5 ½ months. Mr. Willingham was retired from I. B.M. as a computer programmer and had taken a job at Raytheon as a programmer at the time of the accident. He eventually was able to go back to work for about 2 hours a day and in time worked up to 4 hours. Unfortunately even though he could work a few hours a day he suffered working memory problems. Returning to his old occupation was extremely difficult.

The medical profession advised him “he was as good as he was ever going to be after two years from the accident.” He continued attempting to work but suffered severely with his working memory and his speaking ability. He found it extremely difficult to talk and be understood. To give you an example of the difficulties he endured is to understand how he works. He has two monitors on his desk. One is for the files and the other for where it goes. (conceptual and procedural) Within 3 seconds of making a decision he would have total loss of memory and not know what he did or where he put the file.

It was seven long years and lots of struggle before he found out about neurofeedback. In October of 2010 he started taking his first treatments at local MindWorks Studio in Tucson with Larry Honig PhD, a neurofeedback practitioner. At MindWorks Studio they use a number of programs depending on the circumstances and needs of the patient. With Mr. Willingham they used the method called LENS. (LENS stands for Low Energy Neurofeedback System) It has proven to treat TBI victims with great results. There are several other programs at MindWorks Studio that have also proven highly effective for TBI.

By the fourth LENS session his memory began to improve substantially and his stumbling with words ceased. After 13 sessions his computer programming ability dramatically improved and his conceptual and procedural ability rapidly returned. He has scheduled 7 more treatments and feels he should be back to his full mental capacity before the accident after these treatments. While interviewing Mr. Willingham I could not tell he ever had a memory or speech problem, which speaks highly for the neurofeedback methods used at MindWorks Studio.

Mindworks Studio is located at 2230 East Speedway, Suite 120, Tucson, AZ 85719. Phone: 520-762-7642 email:

Additional Information On LENS

For anyone wanting to find out more about the LENS method Mr. Willingham recommends reading Healing Powers of Neurofeedback by author Steven Larson.

Below are links that will give you more details about Traumatic Brain Injury and Neurofeedback: These are two excellent sites to help your understanding of neurofeedback . These companies have created some of the best neurofeedback programs available to practitioners.

This book will give you a good history of biofeedback and neurofeedback:

A Symphony in the Brain,The Evolution of the New Brain Wave Biofeedback by Jim Robbins
ISBN: 0-8021-4381-4 / ISBN-13: 978-0-8021-4381-5

EEG biofeedback for Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

› This article was lightly edited by David Dubin, MD for accessibility.

Kirtley E. Thornton, PhD, Dennis P. Carmody, PhD
Center for Health Psychology, S. Plainfield, NJ 07080
Institute for the Study of Child Development, Dept. of Pediatrics,
Robert Wood Johnson Medical School,

Prevalence and costs

An estimated 5.3 million Americans currently live with disabilities that resulted from traumatic brain injury (TBI). Each year, 1.5 million Americans (2% of the population) sustain a TBI, with a new case added every 21 seconds. This leads to 80,000 new cases of long-term disability and 50,000 deaths. The leading causes are car accidents (44%) and falls (26%). The costs in the US are estimated at $48.3 billion a year.

Commonly reported cognitive and psychological consequences include difficulties with ‘‘orientation/concentration, overload-breakdown of comprehension, reasoning and problem solving, organizational skills, rate of processing, rate of performance, perseveration (a tendency to repeat a response or activity after it has proven ineffective), staying on task/topic, initiation/motivation, generalization, agitation, fatigue, stress and memory.

Efficacy of standard intervention programs

The research literature on memory improvement in patients with brain injury generally has found minimal to mixed results for several intervention approaches.

Memory is not improved by simple, repetitive practice [29] or by repetitive recall drills [30]. Specific techniques, such as visualization, method of loci, and cognitive strategies, have shown different degrees of effectiveness. Researchers generally agree that the subject does not continue the use of the strategy after treatment ends [31]. Significant improvements from internal memory aids, such as imagery instructions, are used less than external memory aids, but patients on their own generally use neither.

More recent reviews of the literature report similar mixed to negative conclusions on the efficacy of cognitive rehabilitation therapy for memory and other areas of cognition and behavior [32–34]. In their exhaustive review, Carney et al [32] concluded that ‘‘specific forms of cognitive rehabilitation reduce memory failures (notebook training/electronic cueing devices—results didn’t hold 6 months post treatment) and anxiety, and improve self-concept and interpersonal relationships for persons with TBI.’’ A recent Defense and Veteran’s Head Injury program study did not find any significant improvement on their measures as a result of cognitive rehabilitation (compared with control group) in patients with moderate to severe TBI [34].

In conclusion, no definitive scientific evidence indicates that cognitive rehabilitation leads to sustained improvements in memory.

Efficacy of electroencephalographic biofeedback with TBI

In a single case study, Byers [59] found that with 31 sessions of EEG biofeedback a patient who had mild TBI improved cognitive flexibility and executive function. Hoffman et al [60] used EEG biofeedback techniques on 14 patients with TBI and reported that approximately 60% of the patients with mild TBI showed improvement in self-reported symptoms or cognitive performance after 40 sessions. The degree of improvement noted ranged from 23% to 62%.

The authors also noted significant normalization of the EEG in subjects who showed clinical improvement. A subsequent open trial case series with 14 patients showed significant improvement after five to ten sessions in self-report checklists [61,62].

Keller [63] demonstrated with a group of 12 patients with TBI that ten sessions of EEG biofeedback improved attentional abilities (in 8 patients) and were superior to ten 30-minute sessions using two standard software computerized attention-training programs [64,65].

Walker et al [66] studied 26 patients with MTBI within 3 to 70 days of injury. EEG biofeedback treatment protocols applied until the patient reported significant improvement or until 40 sessions were completed. Significant and substantial improvements on a global improvement self-rating scale were reported by 88% of the patients. All patients were able to return to work.


The evidence accumulated to date indicates that few standard intervention demonstrate efficacy. Research and clinical reports show greater improvements with EEG biofeedback. The results of studies indicate that neurofeedback shows significant promise.