Quackery Exposed: Brain Balance/Melillio Method

Brain Balance or Mellio Method have centers all over the world. It is named for Dr. Robert Melillo. He is a functional neurologist. He has been practicing for over 30 years. He focuses on autism, ADHD, OCD, dyslexia, tourrettes’s syndrome, bi polar disorder and other neurological and mental health conditions. He believes his methods will replace ADHD medication and “improve” autism. What he is trying to do is rewire the brain of every neurodivergent.

About Dr. Robert Melillo

He is an Associate Professor of Developmental Disabilities at National University of Health Sciences. He has multiple graduate degrees in Chiropractic, Neurology, neuroscience and clinical rehabilitation neuropsychology. He is the co founder and past president of the International Association of Functional Neurology and Rehabilitation. He is on the advisory board of Zac Brown’s Camp Southern Ground for learning disabled children.

He runs with the theory that most mental health, neurological, and learning disabilities are caused by a. functional disconnection. He uses a “holistic approach” to try to cure neurodivergencies in unsuspecting children and parents. He pairs this with diet, nutritional counseling and life style modification. He does not give much information on what his methods exactly are.

What is the Melillo Method?

According to Melillo, the core issue is that there is a developmental imbalance in the brain between the two hemispheres that lead to a wide variety of “symptoms.” Because the brain controls everything, imbalances in the brain can lead to imbalances in all the body systems. He says that children are neurodivergent because they have an unbalanced brain.

The goal for the Melillo Method is to restore balance to the brain by targeting specific networks on one side of the brain with specific stimulation. The sensory stimulants are paired with cognitive and academic activities.

They think by doing this they can “activate specific networks on one side of the brain, causing them to grow and become more connected.”

The types of stimulations are :

  • light
  • sound
  • smell
  • movement
  • inner ear
  • balance
  • touch

This sounds a lot like sensory enrichment. This does not work.

The tools he uses are:

  • virtual reality
  • video games
  • specific frequencies of sound, light and vibrations (also called digital health)

Videos of the Method Itself

The Research

Dr Melillo boasts that his methods are backed by research. There are numerous studies that are on his website. These studies have been done at prestigious institution such as Harvard University, Cambridge University, and University of California San Franscisco. To someone who does not know much about research, these names are good enough to know that these are good institutions. They trust these names alone and that is dangerous.

There is a problem with each study. The method that is used is not disclosed. What are they hiding?

Upon further inspection, the study design shows that the children that are test subjects are enrolled at the brain balance centers. Data collection was done by surveys that are given to the parents.

A survey is not a scientific method. There is no way that the responses of an anonymous survey can be verified. There is not guarantee that people would only answer honestly. It is far too easy for people to misrepresent themselves behind a computer screen. There is often a reason to misrepresent. Because of this fact, a question is raised of whether or not surveys can provide accurate data.

There is solid evidence that surveys are unreliable and gives skewed results. This is a systematic problem that there are a plethora of studies focused on a phenomena called hypothetical bias.

The Cost

With these quack treatments, there is always a cost. Of course, health insurance does not cover it.

For a virtual assessment it is between $29-$49

For a full assessment it is $199-$299, depending on the center the person goes to.

It is up to them to recommend how many sessions needed, how many assessments, etc. This looks not high but combined with multiple visits and assessment, the cost can be quite high.

They call it an “investment in your child’s future.” While this isn’t harmful, it give parents false hope that they will “fix” their child. While children are going to these centers, they are given the idea that there is something wrong with them instead of accepting the child for who they are. They need to be accepted and not being seen as broken.

sources:

https://www.mentalhealthjournal.org/articles/a-retrospective-review-of-parent-reported-anxiety-and-emotional-functioning-in-children-with-developmental-challenges-after-participation-in-the-brain-balance-program.html

https://www.brainbalancecenters.com/brain-balance-program-research-and-results

https://www.melillomethod.eu/dr-robert-j-melillo/

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