Biofeedback For a Lifetime of Better Health

Are you interested in a drug-free approach to treating your current health problems that can also lead to a lifetime of better health and improved emotional well-being? If your answer is yes, biofeedback may be for you.

Biofeedback is a treatment technique in which people are trained to improve their health using signals from their own bodies. Sensitive electronic instruments are used to detect physiological changes with far greater sensitivity and 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 contribute to illness or that result from physical or emotional trauma.

Biofeedback has been shown to be helpful in a wide variety of illnesses. According to an evaluation of recent biofeedback research by the Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, biofeedback has been demonstrated to be effective for the treatment of the following conditions: anxiety disorders; asthma; high blood pressure, migraine and tension headaches; insomnia; TMJ pain; neuromuscular disorders such as Bell’s Palsy, low back strain and stroke; chronic pain, including rheumatoid arthritis pain; Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder; Epilepsy and Raynaud’s disease. Studies also suggest that biofeedback may be a useful treatment for many other disorders, including: addiction to alcohol, autism, bulimia nervosa, PTSD and tinnitus.

Biofeedback measures the physiology related to the 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, blood sugar levels, respiration 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.. Biofeedback for chronic pain or paralysis, where muscle atrophy, contraction or spasm is involved, also helps individuals learn how to strengthen, lengthen, and balance muscles. Efficient use ofmuscles is also taught.

For disorders involving neurological issues, such as Epilepsy or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, treatment involves teaching the individual to change the electrical activity of the brain.

Based on the condition being treated, the biofeedback therapist determines the most appropriate biofeedback modality. The most common types of biofeedback are EMG (muscle), skin temperature, GSR (skin moisture), EEG (brainwave) and heart rate. While the patient is connected to the biofeedback instrument, the biofeedback practitioner provides coaching in producing the desired changes, such as relaxation training. For chronic pain or paralysis, treatment may also include postural adjustments or movement techniques. Patients are asked to practice these techniques on a frequent basis between biofeedback sessions. In subsequent sessions, patients learn other techniques, and progress in mastering the desired physiological changes is monitored. Once the desired physiological changes are mastered in a relaxed setting, patients are taught how to achieve the desired physiological states in situations in everyday life.

Learning to achieve a relaxed physiology can help you address your current physical problems, while increasing your emotional wellbeing and helping your body to maintain optimal functioning, putting you on a lifelong path to better health.

~ Cindy Perlin, LCSW

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