What Is Biofeedback?
Biofeedback is a technique that trains people to improve their health by controlling certain bodily processes that normally happen involuntarily, such as heart rate, blood pressure, muscle tension, and skin temperature. Patches, called electrodes, are placed on different parts of your body to measure your heart rate, blood pressure, or other function. A computer monitor is used to display the results. The biofeedback technician will describe a situation and guide you through techniques to help you gain control over some of your involuntary bodily processes.
Biofeedback is not the same as relaxation training. While you may learn to become more relaxed, the purpose of biofeedback is for you to develop techniques to increase control over involuntary bodily processes, and to re-establish balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches of your autonomic nervous system to increase your body's natural ability to calm, heal, and regenerate.
Duiring biofeedback treatment, you will view on the computer monitor how your heart rate, breathing, skin temperature, and muscle tension change in response to techniques you develop using paced breathing, mindful self-awareness, guided imagery, and even computer videogames. Initially, you will use the monitor to see your progress, but eventually you will be able to achieve success without the use of a monitor or electrodes.
Biofeedback is an effective therapy for many conditions. These are listed below.
What are the types or modalities of biofeedback?
There are several types of biofeedback:
Treatment usually uses a combination of modalities in the clinic, along with short daily practice sessions at home with one modality.
What happens in biofeedback therapy?
A typical biofeedback session lasts 30 to 60 minutes. Usually, you can start to see biofeedback benefits within 10 sessions or less. Some conditions, such as high blood pressure, can take 20 or more sessions to improve.
The biofeedback technician attaches sensors on the skin in certain locations in order to measure physiological signals. For example, heart rate may be measured with electrodes placed on the arms, or with a blood volume pulse sensor on the fingertip or earlobe. These sensors are non-invasive, and easy to remove. Information from these sensors is relayed to a recording device and displayed to the patient on a computer screen so the patient is able to see how his/her body is functioning in real time. Then, using various techniques taught by the technician, the patient can be trained to influence these bodily processes.
The goal of treatment may be to change the resting state of the body or to increase the patient’s ability to influence bodily functions in specific situations. The ultimate goal is for the patient to learn how to invoke positive physical changes in the body, such as relaxing specific muscles when the body is physically or mentally stressed, and to be able to produce these responses outside of the clinic and without the help of technology.
What conditions can biofeedback help to relieve?
Biofeedback has been shown to be helpful in treating a variety of behavioral and medical conditions listed below. Some people choose biofeedback over drugs because of the lack of side effects. The effectiveness of treatment varies by the condition treated. Current rates of effectiveness can be found at www.aapb.org.
Conditions marked with an asterisk * are among those treated in our clinic by biofeedback or a combination of biofeedback and CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy):
Does biofeedback take the place of standard medical treatment?
No. Biofeedback complements medical care, and does not replace standard medical care. Our standard approach is to coordinate care with your physician and specialists. Biofeedback is often used along with other innovative medical approaches.
Do I need a referral from my physician or specialist?
When we use biofeedback to address a medical condition, we will ask you to help us request a referral from your Primary Care Physician or specialist. As part of the referral, we will ask your physician for the medical condition and diagnosis code that will be the target of the biofeedback treatment. As your treatment progresses, we will provide status reports to your physician.
Does insurance cover biofeedback?
At this time, biofeedback treatments are covered by some insurance payers for some conditions. You can check with your insurance payer about whether or not your plan covers biofeedback, or we can do this for you.
Are there any risks associated with biofeedback?
Biofeedback is considered safe. No negative side effects have been reported. Although biofeedback is considered safe, please check with your doctor to see whether this is an appropriate treatment for you.
For more information about biofeedback, please check:
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