Biofeedback is a treatment technique in which people are trained to improve their health and emotional wellbeing using signals from their own bodies. Sensitive electronic instruments are used to detect physiological changes with far greater precision than a person can alone. This feedback or information is used by the biofeedback practitioner to teach the individual how to control the physiological reactions that can lead to illness or that result from physical or emotional trauma. It is a safe, natural, drug-free approach to treating many common disorders.
Biofeedback has been shown to be helpful in treating a wide variety of conditions, including:
- anxiety disorders
- high blood pressure
- migraine and tension headaches
- TMJ pain
- chronic pain
- Raynaud’s syndrome
- immune system disorders
Biofeedback measures, either directly or indirectly, the physiology related to illness and provides moment-by-moment information to the individual so that the individual can learn to control physiological responses related to the illness. Many of these responses relate to changes in the body as a result of stress. When a person is in the stress response, muscle tension, blood pressure, heart rate and skin moisture increase. Blood flow to the extremities, digestion, and immune system activity decrease. By teaching the individual stress management techniques, including relaxation techniques, while providing feedback about physiological responses, the individual can quickly learn how to control his/her physiology. Over a number of sessions, individuals learn to master relaxations skills, not only in a quiet environment, but also learn to apply these skills during stressful situations.
Neuromuscular applications of biofeedback for chronic pain or paralysis, where muscle atrophy, contraction or spasm is involved, help individuals learn how to strengthen, lengthen and balance muscles.
In the case of neurological deficits, a special type of biofeedback known as neurofeedback, or brainwave biofeedback, can be used to improve neurological functioning. See the neurofeedback section in the services tab above for more information about neurofeedback.
For more information about biofeedback, please go to the website for the Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback: www.aapb.org.