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MoonDragon's Alternative Health Information
BIOFEEDBACK
Mind & Emotion Therapies


For "Informational Use Only".
For more detailed information, contact your health care provider
about options that may be available for your specific situation.





  • Biofeedback Description
  • History
  • Evidence & Research
  • Conventional Medical Opinion
  • Consulting A Practitioner




  • DESCRIPTION

    In the 1960s, American scientists began training people to control heart rate and subconscious biological functions by using electronic "biofeedback" instruments that monitored subtle physical responses. Electrodes or probes are used to attach patients to the biofeedback device, and signals, such as electronic beeps, flashes, or needles on a dial, "feed back" information about changes in the body. By responding to these signals, patients can learn to self-regulate body functions. The technique is often used to treat stress-related ailments, and is practiced in North America, the UK, and Australasia.


    MAIN USES OF BIOFEEDBACK

  • Stress-related conditions, such as high blood pressure, anxiety, insomnia, headaches, migraines, asthma, irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Muscle disorders & weakness after surgery.
  • Incontinence.
  • Raynaud's disease.


  • MoonDragon's Womens Health Information: Stress
    MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)
    MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Anxiety Disorder
    MoonDragon's Womens Health Information: Insomnia
    MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Headache
    MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Migraine
    MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Asthma
    MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Irritable Bowel Syndrome
    MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Raynaud's Disease
    MoonDragon's Health Therapy: Pain Control Therapies





    HISTORY

    In the early 1940s US and UK scientists developed electronic devices to detect minute physical responses. At first, publicity focused on obtaining electrical signals from the brain, but the work of American scientists in the 1960s confirmed biofeedback's therapeutic value. Drs. Elmer and Alyce Green of the Menninger Foundation in Kansas used the method to study states of mind during yoga meditation; by the 1980s stress management courses using biofeedback were introduced to American primary schools. In the 1990s, better computer technology prompted further research.




    GSR Sensor


    EVIDENCE & RESEARCH

    An extensive body of clinical research exists to support the claims of biofeedback. A 1996 study in the US showed that using biofeedback to relax shoulder muscles could ease tension headaches. A 1992 American study showed that muscular pain in the lower back responded to biofeedback, and a US government report in 1992 found patients could control incontinence with the technique. It is also being used at Yale University to control heart rate and blood pressure, and some American practitioners use it to treat epilepsy.

    MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Backache
    MoonDragon's Womens Health Information: Incontinence, Urge
    MoonDragon's Womens Health Information: Incontinence, Stress
    MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Epilepsy





    CONSULTING A PRACTITIONER

    The practitioner wills how you how to use the biofeedback device, of which there are several types:
    • Skin Temperature (ST) Gauge: Registers heat changes in the skin.
    • Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) Sensor: Measures the skin's electrical conductivity by the amount of sweat produced under stress.
    • Electromyographs (EMGs): Use auditory or visual signals to indicate muscle tension.
    • Electro-Cardiographs (ECGs): Monitor heart rate.
    • Electro-Encephalographs (EEGs): Show brain-wave activity.

    EEG recording brain wave.
    An EEG records the complex series of electrical charges produced by brain-wave activity with electrodes attached to the patient's scalp.


    Once the sensors are in place, you are taught to recognize signals that suggest relaxation. Techniques such as breathing and muscle relaxation help achieve the desired response (reduced blood pressure, for example). A state of relaxation is indicated by warm skin, low sweat gland activity, high levels of alpha waves from the brain, and a slow, even heart rate. Biofeedback takes practice; at least six half-hour sessions may be needed.

    Interactive computer software.
    INTERACTIVE SOFTWARE

    In a sophisticated computer program, the patient uses biofeedback to control images on the VDT.

    Computer Monitor: Images and colors on the screen change as the patient relaxes.

    Finger Electrodes: Electrodes attached to the patient's hand monitor skin responses to body stress levels.





    CONVENTIONAL MEDICAL OPINION

    Few conventional practitioners would have once believed that people could learn to influence blood pressure, let alone brain waves. Today, the evidence is conclusive and biofeedback's entry into the medical mainstream seems inevitable, although practitioners question its reliability as a form of treatment.


    PRECAUTIONS

  • Do not change the dosage of any medications you are taking during biofeedback treatment without consulting a health care provider.


  • MoonDragon's Health Therapy: Biofeedback Information & Techniques
    MoonDragon's Alternative Health Information: Therapy Index





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