Biofeedback, a mind-body therapy, teaches people to change the way their bodies function for the purpose of improving physical, mental, and emotional health. This is done through the use of instruments that measure and display mental or physical processes, allowing patients to control internal functions that are normally outside of their conscious control. In the same way the use of a stopwatch can help you improve your time when preparing to run a race, you can learn to control muscle tension with the help of a sensor that shows you your level of tension. Based on the feedback from the instruments measuring your bodily functions, you can learn how to create physiological changes, eventually without equipment.
As a self-regulation technique, biofeedback teaches patients to voluntarily control what were once thought to be involuntary body processes. To accomplish this, the intervention requires specialized equipment along with the guidance of a well-trained biofeedback practitioner. Patients receive feedback on a screen or computer monitor. Like looking into a mirror allows you to see and change positions and expressions, biofeedback allows you to see inside your body, guided by a trained practitioner to help you use the feedback to regulate your physiology in a healthy manner.
Through the use of electrodes, patients are hooked up to electronic equipment that can measure breathing rate, perspiration, skin temperature, blood pressure, and heartbeat, depending on the specific device used. Specific devices include an Electromyogram (EMG) to measure muscle tension, an Electrodermal activity (EDA) to detect changes in perspiration rate, finger pulse measurements to measure blood pressure and heartbeat, and an Electroencephalogram (EEG) to assess electrical activity in the brain. The results are then displayed on a computer screen. Additionally, the rhythm and volume of breathing are measured.
After a patient’s body signals are recorded using an electronic device, the biofeedback technician may recommend physical or mental exercises to help the patient gain control. As opposed to a treatment, biofeedback therapy is a process of training. Just as we are taught to tie our shoes or ride a bicycle, patients who undergo biofeedback training must take an active role and practice in order to develop the skill. This means active participation during the training and sometimes even regular practice in between training sessions. The patient is an active learner rather than passively receiving a treatment.
During biofeedback therapy, an emphasis is placed on education—the technician will explain what the sensors are measuring and chooses signal displays that take into account both the needs and limitations of the patient, explaining each signal. The patient will then be taught how the signals being displayed relate to his or her physiology.
Though proven effective and accepted for decades, few people or doctors are aware of this natural, self-regulatory alternative to medication. However, biofeedback is a standard practice in sports performance. Biofeedback is used to help relieve many physical and mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, attention-deficit disorders, headaches, insomnia, and even digestive problems such as irritable bowel syndrome.
See How Oklahoma Neurofeedback Specialists Can Help
At Oklahoma Neurofeedback Specialists, our experienced team is ready to help you create the best version of yourself. We strive to understand our patients and treat them as a whole. Book your free consultation today to discuss a tailored treatment plan specific for you, or call us at (918) 313-8555. Let us help get you on the path toward reclaiming your life.