Could a New Brainwave Test Help More Accurately Diagnose ADHD?

First Posted: Jul 18, 2013 11:25 AM EDT

Startling statisctis show that nearly one in five high school age boys in the United States are diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This means that an estimated 6.4 million children ages 4 to 17 have received an ADHD diagnosis. This is a 16 percent increase since 2007 and a 41 percent rise in the past decade, according to the New York Times.

For those who may have been wrongfully diagnosed with the disorder, a new device called the Neuropsychiatric EEG-Based Assessment Aid (NEBA) System that measures electrical impulses given off by neurons in the brain, could more accurately diagnose the problem, according to its creators.

More specifically, this medical tool tests for the ratio between theta and beta waves, as studies have found that children with ADHD tend to have more betas than those without the disorder. With approval of the device, children suspected of having ADHD would wear a cap for 15 to 20 minutes that could help determine a proper diagnosis.

Device manufacturer NEBA Health submitted a clinical study that evaluated 275 children, ages 6 to 17, with attention and behavioral issues, according to ABC News. However, researchers cautioned that the NEBA must be used along with other clinical measures in order to provide an accurate diagnosis.

"The study results showed that the use of the NEBA System aided clinicians in making a more accurate diagnosis of ADHD when used in conjunction with a clinical assessment for ADHD, compared with doing the clinical assessment alone," the FDA said in a statement.

Yet, the full results of the study have not been released, raising questions about the NEBA system's ability to correctly diagnose the disorder. Health experts are also skeptical regarding the product's function.

"There's no way someone can do the child justice in a 10- or 20-minute visit," said Rachel Klein, a professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at NYU Langone Medical Center, via ABC News. "You need a lot of background information, and you just don't have the time to get it in a regular medical practice."

The cost of the NEBA system and proposed charge for the test have also not be confirmed at this time. 

What do you think? 

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