Biofeedback is a type of therapy that uses sensors attached to our body to measure key body functions. Biofeedback is intended to help us learn more about how our body works. This information may help us to develop better control over certain body functions and address health concerns. One technique can help us gain more control over these normally involuntary functions. This is called biofeedback, and the therapy is used to prevent or treat conditions, including migraine headaches, chronic pain, incontinence, and high blood pressure.
What to expect?
The idea behind biofeedback is that, by harnessing the power of our mind and becoming aware of what's going on inside our body, we can gain more control over your health. Biofeedback is mounted on the concept of “mind over matter.” The idea is that, with proper techniques, we can change our health by being mindful of how our body responds to stressors and other stimuli.
How Does it Work?
- Several different relaxation exercises are used in biofeedback therapy, like:
1. Progressive muscle relaxation.
2. Guided imagery.
3. Mindfulness meditation
- Different types of biofeedback are used to control different body functions:
1. Electromyogram (EMG).
3. Neurofeedback or electroencephalography (EEG).
4. Electrodermal activity (EDA).
Each biofeedback therapy section lasts not more than 60-90 minutes. Usually, we can start to see biofeedback benefits within 10 sessions or less.
- Other types of biofeedback include:
1. Galvanic skin response training.
2. Heart Variability Biofeedback (HVB).
When is it used?
Biofeedback can help many different conditions. Here is a list of some biofeedback benefits:
1. Chronic pain. For pain relief, biofeedback can benefit people across ages, from children to older adults.
2. Headaches. Biofeedback seems to be even more beneficial for headaches when it's combined with medications.
3. Anxiety. Anxiety relief is one of the most common uses of biofeedback. Biofeedback lets us become more aware of our body's responses when we're stressed and anxious. Then we can learn how to control those responses.
4. Urinary Incontinence. Unlike drugs used in treatment, biofeedback doesn't tend to cause any side effects.
5. High Blood Pressure. Biofeedback and device-guided slow breathing had been seen to reduce blood pressure a small amount.
Other biofeedback uses include:
1. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): Biofeedback is therapy some people use to treat the symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
2. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): Integrated biofeedback with PR exercise can further improve cohesion to regular exercise and physical component of quality of life of COPD patients.
4. Asthma: In a new research, researchers show that biofeedback can improve lung function and hence decrease the need for asthma.
5. Gastrointestinal Disorders: The most commonly accepted application of biofeedback in gastrointestinal disorders is in the treatment of fecal incontinence.
6. Epilepsy: About 1/3rd of patients with epilepsy do not benefit from medical treatment. For these patients electroencephalographic (EEG) biofeedback is a effective alternative.
7. Rheumatoid arthritis: Studies and observations have revealed that Rheumatoid arthritis pain symptoms can be reduced to notable extent by using complementary treatments such as biofeedback.
8. Neuromuscular Rehabilitation: Some of the earliest applications of biofeedback is the treatment of neuromuscular diseases.
Role of therapist:
Biofeedback sessions are typically done in a therapist's office, but there are computer programs that connect the biofeedback sensor to our own computer. A biofeedback therapist helps us practice relaxation exercises, which our fine-tune to control different body functions. For example, we might use a relaxation technique to turn down the brainwaves that activate when we have a headache.
Andrasik F. Biofeedback in headache: an overview of approaches and evidence. Cleve Clin J Med. 2010;77(3):S72-6.