From the National Institute of Health:
Biofeedback is a technique that measures bodily functions, like breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, skin temperature, and muscle tension. It teaches you how to alter these functions through relaxation or imagery.
Your heart rate, blood pressure, or some other function is measured using electrodes. The results are displayed on a monitor that both you and the trained practitioner can see. While the practitioner describes stressful situations and guides you through relaxation techniques, you can see how your heart rate and blood pressure change in response to being stressed or relaxed.
This teaches you how to control and change these bodily functions. By doing so, you feel more relaxed and are able to help treat your own high blood pressure, tension and migraine headaches, chronic pain, or urinary incontinence — to name a few examples of conditions for which biofeedback is particularly helpful.
A form of complementary and alternative medicine, biofeedback is a treatment that enables you to improve your health using the power of your mind. The way biofeedback works is that certain involuntary body functions are measured, and a biofeedback specialist helps you gain control over those involuntary body functions. Some of these functions include:
- Heart rate
- Blood pressure
- Brain activity
- Muscle tension
These functions, when they are occurring abnormally, can exacerbate a variety of disorders and conditions including panic disorder, migraines, and muscle tension. Therefore, if you can learn to keep these responses in check, you may be able to avoid a host of physical and mental symptoms. Biofeedback can also be done independent of a specific condition; in this case it simply helps you attain feelings of well being and relaxation and improves your overall health.
According to research, the conditions below are just some of those which have responded well to biofeedback:
- High blood pressure
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Reynaud’s disease
There are many others in addition to these.
About Biofeedback Sessions
The Brain Resource Center has a skilled and knowledgeable specialist who offers this type of treatment. Sessions usually range from 30-60 minutes, during which time electrical sensors will be applied to different parts of your body. We will measure various responses, such as muscle tension for example, in patients suffering from migraine or tension headaches. The information elicited by the sensors will be fed back to you in the form of visual or auditory cues (a beeping sound or flashing light). With this feedback, you’ll begin to associate your body’s response with a certain function.
Once you are able to relate certain body functions with their related symptoms, you begin to learn how to invoke positive physical responses to replace those problematic ones. The end goal is to help gain the ability to produce these responses on your own, at will, whenever you require them.
Benefits to Biofeedback
One of the most appealing benefits to this type of treatment is a decreased reliance on medication. For those interested in pursuing drug-free alternatives to various conditions, biofeedback is the way to do that. Furthermore, biofeedback treatment may help conditions that have previously not responded to medications. In this way, it may prove to be cost effective for you. Also, biofeedback helps put you in control of your own healing and body responses.