The Blog

What is Biofeedback?

Posted by Administrator on 6/21/2013 to Healing
Biofeedback is a form of alternative medicine that falls under the category of mind-body therapy. It uses feedback from different monitoring procedures and equipment to measure a person’s internal and involuntary bodily processes (like blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, skin temperature and sweating) and relays the information to the subject in real-time. This is so that he can start employing specific techniques to gain conscious control over the related physiological activities, alleviate symptoms and manage his specific health conditions.

Special machines with electronic instrumentation and sensors are used for charting the different body responses more efficiently and more accurately than human observation. The common machines and techniques used in biofeedback are electromyogram (EMG), temperature biofeedback, galvanic skin response training (sweating), and electroencephalogram (EEG).

When you learn to recognize and control these responses, you can use biofeedback to treat a wide range of health problems. For example, your doctors have warned that you are at high risk of stroke. Thus, you take precautionary steps including changing your diet and exercising, and learning how to relax. To complete your health care, you can acquire one of the portable biofeedback machines and hook it up to you even when you are at work. This way, you can monitor your body’s responses to different stressors at different levels.

The equipment will alert you in cases of increased heart rate or contracting muscles or dropping of temperature or changes in the activity of your sweat glands. Right there and then, you can adjust your breathing, perform calming exercises or apply the other techniques that may have been taught to you by your therapist in order to avert any possibility of stroke.

Biofeedback evolved from early laboratory studies on the use of feedback mechanisms to modify physiological functions in animals and humans. The term, "biofeedback," was coined in the late 1960's to describe the instrumental learning (operant conditioning) process used to manipulate and control the biological functions that were once thought to be "involuntary" or automatic. These studies aimed to enable people to manipulate their physiological activities such as being able to change at will their brain patterns or to bring down their blood pressure.

Despite the number of variables (perspiration, respiration, heart rate, blood pressure and brainwave activity), biofeedback can be helpful in the treatment and management of a wide array of disorders like chronic pain, generalized anxiety and stress reactions, migraines, digestive disorders, arrhythmia, and many more. Biofeedback therapy includes education and training of the patient on how he can adapt and modify his mental and emotional responses to different triggers through breathing, relaxation and other mind/body self-regulation techniques.

Biofeedback is said to be the "ultimate discipline in self-help." Its effectiveness is largely dependent on the patient. You have to comply with the prescribed life style changes particularly in your diet, need for regular physical exercises, and learning how to manage if not eliminate the stressors in your life.

Part of your training with biofeedback is the acquisition and mastery of skills pertinent to stress relief. Experts may not be able to explain how the therapy works, but they attest that it works and that relaxation is the key for the control of the different bodily functions.

These same physiological changes seem to be automatically activated by the sympathetic nervous system as part of the body’s defensive "fight or flight" reflex when dealing with life-threatening emergencies. Modern man instinctively responds to stress the same way that his ancestors did. Dilation of the pupils is accompanied by sweating, increased heart rate and other body reactions.

There is one major difference between the then and the now. Because of the requirements of civility, people cannot merely give in to their emotions and react directly to the apparent threat. Instead, these emotions are bottled up which eventually manifest as all sorts of ailments.

And this, in a nutshell, is what biofeedback therapy is all about. It affords the early recognition of these symptoms of stress and gives the individual the ability to gain conscious control over them with the end goal of achieving health and wellness.