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Friday, 30 August 2013

Biofeedback | learn to control your body's functions

Biofeedback is a technique you can use to learn to control your body's functions.
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. 
Electrodes attached to your skin measure these processes and display them on a monitor. Electrical sensors help you receive information (feedback) about your body (bio). This feedback helps you focus on making subtle changes in your body, With help from a biofeedback therapist, you can learn to change your heart rate or blood pressure, for example. 
At first you use the monitor to see your progress, but eventually you will be able to achieve success without the monitor or electrodes. 
Biofeedback is an effective therapy for many conditions, but it is primarily used to treat high blood pressure, tension headache, migraine headache, chronic pain, and urinary incontinence.

Are there different types of biofeedback?
The three most commonly used forms of biofeedback therapy are:
  • Electromyography (EMG), which measures muscle tension
  • Thermal biofeedback, which measures skin temperature
  • Neurofeedback or electroencephalography (EEG), which measures brain wave activity
How does biofeedback work?
Researchers aren’t sure exactly how or why biofeedback works. However, there does seem to be at least one common thread: most people who benefit from biofeedback have conditions that are brought on or made worse by stress. For this reason, many scientists believe that relaxation is the key to successful biofeedback therapy. When your body is under chronic stress, internal processes like blood pressure become overactive. Guided by a biofeedback therapist, you can learn to lower your blood pressure through relaxation techniques and mental exercises. When you are successful, you see the results on the monitor, which encourages your efforts.

What is biofeedback good for?
Biofeedback seems to be effective for a range of health problems. For example, it shows promise for treating urinary incontinence, which is a problem for more than 15 million Americans. Some people choose biofeedback over drugs because of the lack of side effects. Based on findings in clinical studies, the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research has recommended biofeedback therapy as a treatment for urinary incontinence. It may also help people with fecal incontinence.
Research also suggests that thermal biofeedback may ease symptoms of Raynaud's disease (a condition that causes reduced blood flow to fingers, toes, nose, or ears) while EMG biofeedback has been shown to reduce pain, morning stiffness, and the number of tender points in people with fibromyalgia. A review of scientific clinical studies found that biofeedback may help people with insomnia fall asleep. Other studies suggest it may even reduce the risk of cardiac events by lowering blood pressure levels and reducing the body's "sympathetic" response during times of stress.
Biofeedback can also be used effectively in children. For example, EEG neurofeedback (especially when combined with cognitive therapy) has been reported to improve behavior and intelligence scores in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Biofeedback, combined with a fiber rich diet, may help relieve abdominal pain in children. Thermal biofeedback helps relieve migraine and chronic tension headaches among children and teens as well.
Biofeedback may also be useful for the following health problems:
  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Anxiety
  • Asthma
  • Autism
  • Back pain
  • Bed wetting
  • Chronic pain
  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Epilepsy and related seizure disorders
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Head injuries
  • High blood pressure
  • Learning disabilities
  • Motion sickness
  • Muscle spasms
  • Sexual disorders, including pain with intercourse
  • Spinal cord injuries


Read More:
Biofeedback | University of Maryland Medical Cente
 

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