In yesterday’s post, I asked what folks thought about a therapy that was described using terms such as “brain,” “balance,” “comprehensive,” “individualized,” “neurobehavioral,” and etc. I promised to explain more about this therapy. Here’s what I know:
What is it?
The descriptors are associated with BrainBalance Music, a product of Dr. Robert Melillo and Lisa Erhard. The main Web site for the product is called “i-waveonline.com,” but there are others. Sometimes the name of the program is written without a space (BrainBalance) and sometimes it has a space (Brain Balance). I’m not sure which way to present it.
The therapy apparently requires that one listen to various audio recordings, sometimes with one earpiece removed and sometimes with the other earpiece removed. The recordings are entitled “Woman Breathing”; “Peaceful”; “The Gargle Guy”; and “Wolves & Whales.” The Web site has samples.
BrainBalance Music is designed and customized to Dr. Robert J. Melillo’s specifications, based on extensive research and knowledge that certain types and frequencies of sound are specifically processed by the two hemispheres of the brain differently. By using specific music and sounds BrainBalance Music may help to stimulate one hemisphere more than the other and possibly create more balance in the brain.
How many weasel words do you count in that quote? In combination with the breadth and boldness of the claims, the quality of this statement made my antennae vibrate!
Who is Dr. Melillo?
There is a Robert J. Melillo of Ronconkama (NY, US) who has been licensed (#004289) to practice chiropracty in New York since 20 May 1985. Dr. Melillo has published books including, Neurobehavioral Disorders of Childhood: An Evolutionary Perspective and Disconnected Kids: The Groundbreaking Brain Balance Program for Children with Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, and Other Neurological Disorders. He spoke about the latter book 16 May 2009 on Autism Podcast.
Dr. Melillo apparently maintains physical offices in Ronkonkoma and Rockville Center (NY, US). However, the Brain Balance centers are spread around the US. He also teaches for the Carrick Institute for Graduate Studies, a specialty program in chiropractic neurology where people study with doctors who have restored people’s hearing or eyesight or who have brought patients out of comas.
The domain name “i-waveonline.com” was initially registered with Internic on 14 August 2002 using the GODADDY services. The Web site lists a mailing address of i-Wave, Inc., P.O. Box 10080, Westbury, NY 11590-6106. That’s consistent with the owner of the brand “Brain Based Music,” I Wave, which is located on Bowling Green Drive Westbury.
There is no intimation that Dr. Melillo is dishonest. He may well believe that the methods he’s promolgating are beneficial. We’ve certainly seen teachers adopt and advocate bogus methods, even while their hearts are in the right places. Certainly, a chiropractor could do so, too.
Meanwhile, I have to admit that I would pay real money to see someone restore people’s sight or hearing, provided that the restoration occurred under prescribed conditions. (Possible conditions: I bring a group of blind people with me and select patients at random from that group; the chiropractor performs all examinations and therapies in public; and the verification of restored sight is made by independent parties who have no connections to me or the chiropractors and who employ assessments sanctioned by, say, the American Foundation for the Blind. If the therapist says that the restorative therapies only work with some patients, she or he will need to provide an objective means by which I can, a priori bring only blind people who meet those standards.)
Who’s it for?
I wrote that the therapy is supposed to benefit those with ADHD, dyslexia, Autism, Aspergers, Tourette, Learning Disability, processsing disorders. Actually, that’s an understatement; according to I-Wave, “The majority of symptoms in children and adults including attention deficits, learning disabilities, autism, obsessive compulsive disorder, depression, anxiety, chronic pain and many more are all directly a result of an imbalance of electrical activity in the brain.”
The list is pretty long! Something that benefits so many folks really ought to be in general use. Given credible independent research that documented the benefits of the therapy for people who experience so many different problems, I suspect that an advertising agency could create quite a buzz around the therapy. Lots of individuals and organizations would queue to purchase it.
What’s the evidence for it?
There is, though, that pesky matter of “credible independent research.”
Dani Schweigert reported about the method in “Brain Balance helps children with learning disabilities” that appeared in the Vernon Hills (CA, US) Review, describing the program as “based on studies that show children with learning disabilities often have a functional imbalance and disconnection between the two halves of their brains, and Brain Balance works to improve that communication.”
The BrainBalance site points to a case study by Dr. David Clark, a Chiropractic Neurologist of Dallas (TX, US). Dr. Clark reported about seeing a 19-month-old boy who “had never slept through the night since he was born.” The very night (the 578th or 579th of the child’s life) after the first day of a therapy that included “Wolves and Whales” for 10 minutes twice per day (did he get two doses that first day?), the boy “slept for 4 hours straight. That night, he slept from 11:00 pm to 6:00 am. The next night he slept from 11:00 pm to 8:00 am awaking twice for approximately 10 seconds each time.” 
On BBCenters.org, another site advancing the Brain Balance Program, there is a page presenting “objective results.” There are descriptions of two childen, Tara and Victoria, who reportedly overcame some of their difficulties.
Essentially, this amounts to no evidence. These are testimonials. This is just what people say. There are no express comparisons of the Brain Balance program to any other program, let alone randomly constituted control groups. There are no independently administered assessments of the individuals’ performance using objective and psychometrically sound instruments. There are no replications, either direct or systematic. There is no evidence beyond assertion.
The BrainBalance program was once known as the “Unlimited Potential Program.” The phrase is used on one of the affiliated Web sites, i-waveonline.com, where one can hear sample MP3s (approximate lyric for one of them: “I can see clearly in the night. I know I’ll have faith now. I know I can believe.”)
Jeremy Frtiz, one of the practitioners of BrainBalance, told Ms. Schweigert, “I love working with kids, and to see them change from day one to the end of the process is amazing. They come in with limited potential and leave with unlimited potential.”
What’s it all mean?
There’s not much to say here. Somebody’s selling a therapy. It’s sounds bogus to me. Would it have helped if the therapy had been described as “revolutionary,” “widely adopted,” or “fast-acting?” What sort of language gets folks to accept what amounts to un-validated therapies?
There’s no scientific basis for this. I’d sure save my $$.