Biofeedback is a type of therapy that trains people to control certain bodily processes as a way to improve their health. These include voluntary and involuntary processes such as skin temperature, muscle tension, blood pressure and heart rate.
The idea behind the use of biofeedback is that when we are able to harness the power of the mind and when we become more aware of what is happening inside our body, we can gain more control over our health. While it is an effective therapy that is used for treating a number of conditions, it is predominantly used in treating urinary incontinence, chronic pain, migraine headache, tension headache, and high blood pressure.
Types Of Biofeedback
Although there are many types of biofeedback, the three most common ones include:
1. electroencephalography (EEG) or neurofeedback – used for measuring the brain wave activity
2. temperature or thermal biofeedback - used for measuring skin temperature
3. electromyography (EMG) biofeedback – used for measuring muscle tension
Other types include muscular biofeedback, respiration, heart rate variability (HRV), and electrodermal activity (skin sweat).
What happens in a biofeedback session?
In a biofeedback session, there are electrodes that are attached to the patient’s skin. Sometimes, finger sensors are also used. While they are attached, these electrodes give out signals which are displayed in a monitor. These signals represent a sound, image or flash of light which indicate the patient’s muscle activity, sweating, skin temperature, blood pressure, heart and breathing rate.
When a patient is under stress, these functions experience change. Breathing is faster. Sweating begins to occur. Blood pressure increases. Muscles tighten. Heart rate speeds up. All of these are displayed in the monitor.
Typically, biofeedback sessions are conducted in a therapist’s office. The therapist helps the patient in practicing relaxation exercises. These exercises are then fine-tuned by the patient in order to control various body functions.
Biofeedback And Relaxation Exercises
There are a number of relaxation exercises that are used by therapists when conducting a biofeedback therapy on a patient. These include:
1. Mindfulness meditation
2. Guided imagery
3. Progressive muscle relaxation
4. Deep breathing
Benefits Of Biofeedback
Biofeedback is often used to complement medical care. However, it should not be used as a replacement to standard medical care. Often, biofeedback is used with other integrative medicine treatments.
Among the many benefits of biofeedback, using it can help in relieving:
3. Chronic pain
5. Eating disorders
6. Back pain
7. Learning disabilities
8. Motion sickness
10.High blood pressure
12. Head injuries
14. Age-related macular degeneration
15. Muscle pain and immobility
16. Spinal cord injuries
17. Sexual disorders
18. Muscle spasms
19. Epilepsy and related seizure disorders