Curious About Biofeedback?
When you suffer from a painful, chronic, and nearly debilitating health problems, you become desperate for anything that will take the pain away and let you get back to your normal life. Human bodily functions are divided into two categories: voluntary and involuntary. Voluntary functions are those you consciously control such as smiling at a friend or lifting your hand to pat your hair.
The nervous system controls many of your body’s functions such as your body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. These are involuntary functions which you have no control over. At times, they are a response to a stimulus or circumstances in your environment. For instance, if someone startles you, you may shriek in fright, and your heart rate may increase. But you never made your heart beat faster, did you?
What is Biofeedback?
If you are unable to control the involuntary physiological actions of your body, you can benefit from biofeedback therapy. It is all about harnessing the power of your mind and cultivating more awareness of your bodily functions. To do so, you use instruments that monitor and provide information on your body’s activities to enable you to plan how to manipulate them as you wish.
The controllable bodily processes include muscle tone, heart rate, brain waves and skin sensitivity. The therapist connects electrical sensors to your body that receive information or feedback concerning your body or bio, hence the name biofeedback. Biofeedback therapy is based on the belief that by gaining insight into your bodily functions and processes, you can take charge of your health and control the effect of illnesses on your body. The therapy enhances physical endurance.
Types of Biofeedback Techniques
The following are the most common techniques and the sensors applicable for each:
Electroencephalography – This method measures the activity of brain waves over a specific duration. The electroencephalograph is placed on the scalp to measure the degree of electrical activity on each side of the cortex of the human brain.
Thermal Biofeedback – It monitors changes in body temperature within a given period using a feedback thermometer. Body cooling and warming requires different skills. The ease with which temperature regulation takes place signifies the diameter of the arteriole.
Electromyography – It measures changes in muscle tone over time. This technique utilizes physiotherapy instruments to collect information on a patient’s condition.
Heart Variability Monitor – It measures your heart and pulse rate. The tool used is the photoplethysmograph that measures average blood flow or blood volume pulse. Another instrument utilized for the same purpose is the electrocardiogram which monitors the intervals between successive heartbeats to give the heart rate variability.
Galvanic Skin Response – This measures the amount of perspiration on your body over time. An Electrodermograph (EDG) uses electrodes placed on the hand, wrist or fingers to measure the electrical activity of the skin.
The NCCIH identifies biofeedback as a relaxation technique crucial in lowering blood pressure and slowing down breathing to induce natural relaxation. Excess stress causes ailments hence the importance of this technique in stress management programs and medical processes to improve general well-being.
Each technique in biofeedback therapy has its unique advantages and aids in the management of specific conditions. Some techniques, however, work together for improved effect.
- The electrodermal technique, which monitors sweating, treats anxiety disorders, stress, and excessive sweating. Additionally, it has been used in the development of the polygraph which detects lies by measuring fluctuations in emotions and anxiety. Skin electrical activity helps psychotherapists to heighten clients’ awareness of their feelings.
- Muscle tone or tension measuring methods aid in the alleviation of different types of headaches such as migraines, tension headaches, and mixed headaches. They also treat chronic pain, anxiety, low back pain, asthma, fecal and urinary incontinence, cerebral palsy, and pelvic pain.
- Learning to control brain activity helps in resolving behavioral and emotional disorders such as posttraumatic stress disorder, various types of addictions, ADHD, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, generalized seizures, stroke, and migraine.
- Ability to manipulate and regulate body temperature helps therapists in treating headaches, hypertension, stress, anxiety, chronic pain, Reynaud’s disease, and edema.
- It eliminates or reduces the need for medication
- It is a safer alternative to medical interventions during pregnancy
- It is non-invasive
- It is ideal for those with adverse reactions to medicines
- It makes patients feel empowered and in control of their health
- It assists where medications have been ineffective
Going For Biofeedback Therapy
You may be asking yourself, “What is biofeedback therapy going to do for me?” Almost everyone suffers a degree of the ailments discussed above. Biofeedback therapy can help you in more ways than one. As you book an appointment with a therapist, confirm that they have the right credentials. Check whether they received training and have registered with a regulatory body – keeping in mind that health provision regulations vary across states. Additionally, see if they accept your insurance cover.
During the session, the therapist will attach electrical sensors to various parts of your body. Often, the sensors measure several physiological states simultaneously and convey the information cues as flashing lights or beeps. Once the data is collected, the therapist advises you on the relaxation measures to undertake. After about ten sessions, you learn how to control your reflexes.
If you think this is something you can try at home, ensure you use authentic devices. Talk to your therapist to learn the best equipment for your condition. Biofeedback involves non-intrusive techniques therefore if claims abound that the devices can locate impurities in your blood, assess the state of your organs, or cure your illness, chances are they are fake.
Listen to Your Body
Even if you are not ill or in pain, biofeedback therapy is highly recommended for stress management. It improves your overall well-being and gives you confidence – you know you are in charge of your life and your body. Pay attention to your tensions and aches and find a therapist in your vicinity or online and begin your journey to holistic health.
Biofeedback is a powerful way to take charge of your stress, your body and your Life. When you realize how your body works and responds to certain situations and circumstances you can then learn how to shift those unconscious negative responses to those that will uplift you.
It does take some training to learn how to control your heartbeat and other aspects of your body responses and it is very doable. Anyone can do this.
It is empowering and will support not only a healthier you, it will increase your sense of empowerment. It will give you not only hope but a realization that you have more control over your body and your health than you may have realized!
Author: Esateys Stuchiner
Esateys (pronounced Ee sáh teez) is an International Life Transformational Speaker, Author, Master Facilitator, Life Coach and Expert in the Human condition. She is a Nationally and Board Certified Nurse Practitioner. For over 30 years, she has practiced, taught and lectured extensively in the allopathic and alternative medicine field.
Esateys is known for her groundbreaking work in the areas of personal empowerment and health restoration using mindset and inner connection as the catalyst for all change.
Esateys describes herself as the ‘Architect of the New You’ and has dedicated her life and professional career to helping her clients create “New Beginnings” by facilitating self empowerment, economic freedom and restored health.
For more information, go to esateys.com.