“We have not been informed that our bodies
tend to do what they are told if we
know how to tell them.”
What is Biofeedback?
- Biofeedback (BF) is a short-term training control of the autonomic nervous system to improve performance through control of physiologic response to stress (sports, social settings, test taking)
- BF is a training technique in which people are taught to improve their health and performance by using signals from their own bodies. Its goal is to increase people’s sensory awareness as there are reintroduced to their bodies. In other words, the objectives are to help people develop greater awareness and voluntary control over their physiological process that are otherwise outside awareness and/or under less voluntary control. The objectives are achieved when the person first learns how to control the external signal and then becoming aware of the internal sensations and cues.
- BF is a type of complementary and alternative medicine called mid-body therapy. It is designed to enable you—in mind-over-matter fashion— to use your thoughts and will to control your body. Biofeedback is based on the idea, confirmed by scientific studies, that people have the innate potential to influence with their minds many of the automatic, involuntary functions of their bodies.
- BF is a group of therapeutic procedures that utilize electronic or electromechanical instruments to accurately measure, and “feed back” to persons information with reinforcing properties about neuromuscular and autonomic activity, normal and abnormal, in the form of analog or binary, auditory and/or visual feedback signals.
- Biofeedback, sometimes called biofeedback training, is used to help treat many physical and mental health issues, including:
Anxiety or stress
Chemotherapy side effects
High blood pressure
Irritable bowel syndrome
- The mind and body function as a single unit: emotions and thoughts affect the body and changes in the body affect thoughts and emotions.
- The body’s vital systems (e.g., cardiovascular, respiratory, nervous, etc.) are also interconnected. A change in any one system may affect another system. For example, a change in respiratory patterns may affect the subjective experience of relaxation, anxiety, and fear, as well as cardiac output and the pH of the blood.
Biofeedback appeals to people for a variety of reasons
- It’s noninvasive.
- It may reduce or eliminate need for medications (for individuals who prefer to avoid medications if possible).
- It may be a treatment alternative for those who can’t tolerate medications for their conditions.
- It may be an option when medications haven’t worked well.
- It may be an alternative to medications for some conditions during pregnancy.
- It helps people take charge of their health.
Most common types of biofeedback
- Electromyography (EMG) biofeedback. This type gives you information about your body’s muscle tension so that you can practice relaxation.
- Temperature (thermal) biofeedback. Sensors attached to your fingers or feet measure your skin temperature. Because your temperature often drops when you’re under stress, a low reading can prompt you to begin relaxation techniques.
- Galvanic skin response training. Sensors measure the activity of your sweat glands and the amount of perspiration on your skin, alerting you to anxiety.
- Heart rate variability biofeedback. This type of biofeedback, commonly used in commercial devices, helps you control your heart rate in an effort to improve blood pressure, lung function, and stress and anxiety.
The Biofeedback Protocol at the PCC:
1. An intake therapist, individual therapist, or medical provider need to make a referral for BF.
2. Clients will attend a 4 to 5-session protocol, after which they will have their symptoms reassessed.
3. Individual therapy needs to be put on hold while clients perform the protocol.
A few App suggestions:
* My calm beat (free): works by increasing your heart rate variability through slow breathing.
* Stress Doctor, by Azumio ($4.99, iPhone only): Reduce stress using 100% natural biofeedback technique based on heart rate detection with the iPhone’s camera.
* Stress Check by Azumio (free): measures stress level by measuring heart rate by placing finger on the camera lens.
* BreathBiofeedback (free): measures heart rate variability by tapping on the screen when you inhale and releasing the screen when you exhale.