Biofeedback therapy is a non-drug treatment in which patients learn to control bodily processes that are normally involuntary, such as muscle tension, blood pressure, or heart rate.
At Hearing & Health sensors are attached to your body to measure key body functions. Biofeedback is intended to help you learn more about how your body works. This information may help you to develop better control over certain body functions and address health concerns. You can change your health by being mindful of how your body responds to stressors and other stimuli.
Biofeedback can be beneficial for:
- the professional athlete who desires greater intensity and focus or to reach the effective performing state
- a coach who wants to maximise creative decision-making and effectiveness in the field
- an athlete who needs help recovering from an sports injury or a serious health concern
- a student who needs to boost attention and learning skills
- anyone who competes and wants more emotional control or balance in his or her life as well as a healthier mind and body
Chronic stress can have dramatic effects on your body. This may include elevated blood pressure, increased body temperature, and disruption of brain function. By promoting a more effective mental and physical response to stress, biofeedback aims to help you control body processes like your heart rate and blood pressure.
Biofeedback has been shown to be helpful in treating a variety of medical conditions. Some people choose biofeedback over drugs because of the lack of side effects. Below are a few conditions that may benefit from biofeedback.
By helping you identify tight muscles and then learn to relax those muscles, biofeedback may help relieve the discomfort of conditions like low back pain, abdominal pain, temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ), and fibromyalgia. For pain relief, biofeedback can benefit people of all ages, from children to older adults.
Headaches are one of the best-studied biofeedback uses. Muscle tension and stress can trigger migraines and other types of headaches, and can make headache symptoms worse. There is good evidence that biofeedback therapy can relax muscles and ease stress to reduce both the frequency and severity of headaches.
Anxiety relief is one of the most common uses of biofeedback. Biofeedback lets you become more aware of your body’s responses when you’re stressed and anxious. Then you can learn how to control those responses.
Biofeedback therapy can help people who have trouble controlling the urge to use the bathroom. Biofeedback can help women find and strengthen the pelvic floor muscles that control bladder emptying. After several sessions of biofeedback, women with incontinence may be able to reduce their urgent need to urinate and the number of accidents they have. Biofeedback can also help children who wet the bed, as well as people with faecal incontinence (the inability to control bowel movements). Unlike drugs used to treat incontinence, biofeedback doesn’t tend to cause side effects.
High Blood Pressure
Evidence on the use of biofeedback for high blood pressure has been mixed. Although the technique does seem to lower blood pressure slightly, biofeedback isn’t as effective as medication for blood pressure control.
Other biofeedback uses include:
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- High blood pressure
- Back pain
- Chronic pain
- Epilepsy and related seizure disorders
- Headaches and migraines
- Head injuries
- Learning disabilities
- Motion sickness
- Muscle spasms
- Spinal cord injuries
Some people prefer biofeedback as a form of treatment for these conditions because it’s non-invasive and doesn’t rely on medications. Other people pair biofeedback with more traditional treatment options to improve overall wellness.
Types of Biofeedback
The three most common methods of biofeedback include:
- electromyography (EMG) biofeedback: measures muscle tension as it changes
- thermal or temperature biofeedback: measures body temperature changes
- electroencephalography: measures brain wave activity
Other types of biofeedback include:
- galvanic skin response: measures the amount of sweat your body excretes when stressed
- heart rate variability: measures your pulse and the difference between your heart beats, which will give an indication of your overall health
Electrical sensors that connect to a monitor will be connected to your body. The sensors measure one or more signs of stress. This can include heart rate, muscle tension, or body temperature. The measurements provide feedback about how your body responds to different stimuli.
A biofeedback therapist can teach you how to lower your heart rate through breathing exercises, relaxation techniques, and mental exercises. You can measure the results of these techniques and exercises on the monitor. This encourages more positive reactions and relaxation.
A typical biofeedback session lasts between 30 and 60 minutes. The number of sessions needed to resolve an issue will vary depending on a number of factors, including how quickly you learn to control your physical responses.
Biofeedback Side Effects & Risks
Biofeedback is considered safe. No negative side effects have been reported.