Frequently Asked Questions about Biofeedback
What is Biofeedback?
The Journal of the American Medical Association calls biofeedback " a technique that uses instruments to reveal to a person the … activities of his or her body".
How does Biofeedback work?
In the same way that a heart monitor measures heart rate, biofeedback measures and displays to you information or "feedback" about your body. This information is precise and immediate. Biofeedback shows when and how the smallest signs of your symptoms begin to reverse (when you’re on the right track). With time, in your own way, you will understand how to reverse your symptoms.
How, exactly, do I learn this?
Biofeedback is like other kinds of learning. As youngsters most people learn to balance and ride a bicycle through concentration and practice. Human beings have an inborn capacity to regulate their body.
How long does this take?
Newer symptoms respond most quickly to biofeedback. Children appear to learn a bit more quickly than adults do. Many symptoms are reduced in 8-12 appointments.
How come I’ve developed symptoms?
Certain individuals have a very strong physical response to everyday events; the physical response of others lasts a long time. Muscles sometimes contract for long periods of time, strain the body, and lead to symptoms such as tension headache and irritable bowel syndrome.
Long constriction of blood vessels leads to cardiovascular symptoms such as migraine headache and high blood pressure.
Why these specific symptoms?
Some symptoms – migraine headache and irritable bowel, for example – seem to run in families. Certain individuals, because of their physical makeup, are vulnerable to particular symptoms. Under high levels of tension, for a long enough time, symptoms will develop.
What Kinds of Problems Can Biofeedback Help?
Through clinical research and application, biofeedback techniques have expanded into widely used procedures that treat an ever-lengthening list of conditions. Some of these include:
· Migraine headaches
· Tension headaches
· Other types of chronic pain
· Disorders of the digestive system
· High blood pressure
· Cardiac arrhythmias (abnormalities in the rhythm of the heartbeat) •ADD/ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder)
· Raynaud's disease (a circulatory disorder that causes uncomfortably cold hands),
· Paralysis, spinal cord injury and other movement disorders.
Biofeedback is an effective treatment for migraine and tension headaches among both children and adults. This has been proven by numerous controlled studies with follow-ups of up to 15 years. The American Association for Headache cites biofeedback as an acceptable treatment.
The Agency for Health Care Policy and Research Consensus cites biofeedback as the primary treatment for urinary incontinence, a condition affecting up to 30 percent of elderly people living independently and about 50 percent of patients in long-term care facilities. Illnesses such as multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy or lupus, as well as strokes and prostate surgery can cause incontinence.
Eighty percent of individuals with essential hypertension who underwent biofeedback training in one study reduced their prescription medications or no longer needed them at all, even after years of taking medication.
More than 700 groups worldwide are using EEG biofeedback (neurofeedback) for treatment of ADD/ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder). Clinicians have reported that patients who experienced a 60 to 80 percent significant improvement in the condition and a marked reduction in medication requirements.
Dr. Lester Fehmi, the Director of the Princeton Biofeedback Centre is a consultant to Coach Bob Ward of the Dallas Cowboys (NFL) for stress management and performance.
The New England Journal of Medicine stunned the health care world when it reported that alternative medicine almost equaled traditional medicine in total revenues.
Studies on women with PMS have shown biofeedback can help relieve the symptoms.
In more than 90 percent of children under the age of twelve with sleeping problems such as bedwetting, recovery is expected within the first two months of biofeedback treatment.
Therapists in several states, including Florida, Wisconsin and New Jersey have found that some spinal cord injury and chronic neuromuscular disease paralysis victims have been able to regain most of their muscular limb abilities after biofeedback training. This dramatic approach is not yet readily available in many states. The results, though they sometimes appear to be miracles, (i.e., helping people told they will never walk or use their hands again to walk or feed themselves) are really just the results of practical use of existing biofeedback technologies.
Numerous studies have shown that people with panic and anxiety disorders who undertake biofeedback training gain significantly in their ability to control these states, to the point that these no longer interfere with their daily life.