Biofeedback is one form of treatment offered in my office, and is a unique enough approach to warrant its own set of pages. Conditions Treated with Biofeedback in My Clinic:
- Heart Health
- Temporomandibular Disorder
Below you will find answers to these frequently asked questions:
What is biofeedback?
What is neurofeedback?
What is the history of biofeedback?
How is biofeedback used today?
How is biofeedback done?
Who can conduct biofeedback training?
How long does treatment take?
How long will my new learning last?
What should I expect in biofeedback treatment?
What is TMD?
How can Biofeedback improve by cardiopulmonary condition?
How can Biofeedback and/or Neurofeedback improve by (child’s) attentional issues?
How can Biofeedback/Neurofeedback enhance my peak performance?
How can Biofeedback/Neurofeedback help me musically?
How can biofeedback help my headaches/migranes?
How can biofeedback help my symptoms associated with acute and chronic pain (e.g.,postsurgical pain, Rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, Raynaud’s disease, neuropathy)?
- What is Biofeedback?
Biofeedback is a process of learning to control various aspects of your body’s functions with the assistance of instruments that “feedback” the functioning of your body in real time. Many symptoms and side-effects of disorders are made manifest in changes of body functioning (e.g. decreased blood flow to feet and hands with diabetes). With biofeedback, you can learn to directly counteract these negative body symptoms and create healthier body states across a broader span of time.
- What is Neurofeedback?
Neurofeedback is a process of learning to control different brain wave patterns and to consciously and intentionally produce those brainwaves most necessary for the task at hand. Some brainwaves are associated with attention (alpha and beta) others with states of awareness (theta) or relaxation (delta). By consciously altering these brainwaves with neurofeedback training, you can learn to attend, relax, or be in a state of loose and easy readiness, depending on the needs of your specific task.
- What is the history of biofeedback?
Biofeedback is a training technique in which people are taught to improve their health and performance by using signals from their own bodies. The biofeedback techniques used to treat patients have been around for over a quarter century, and the procedures themselves for over half a century. The word “biofeedback” was coined in late 1969 to describe laboratory procedures (developed in the 1940’s) that trained research subjects to alter brain activity, blood pressure, muscle tension, heart rate and other bodily functions that are not normally controlled voluntarily.
At the time, many scientists looked forward to the day when biofeedback would give us a major degree of control over our bodies. They thought, for instance, that we might be able to “will” ourselves to be more creative by changing the patterns of our brain waves. Some believed that biofeedback would one day make it possible to do away with drug treatments that often cause uncomfortable side effects in patients with high blood pressure and other serious conditions.
Although most people initially viewed these practices with skepticism, researchers proved that many individuals could alter their involuntary responses by being “fed back” information either visually or audibly about what was occurring in their bodies.
Today, research has demonstrated that biofeedback can help in the treatment of many diseases and painful conditions. It has shown that we have more control over so-called involuntary bodily functions than we once thought possible. But it has also shown that nature imposes some limits on the extent of such control. Scientists are now trying to determine just how much voluntary control we can exert over bodily processes.
- How his biofeedback used today?
Clinical biofeedback techniques that grew out of the early laboratory procedures are now widely used to treat an ever lengthening list of conditions.These include :
- migraine headaches, tension headaches, and many other types of pain
- disorders of the digestive system
- high blood pressure and its opposite, low blood pressure
- cardiac arrhythmias (abnormalities, sometimes dangerous in the rhythm of the heartbeat)
- Raynaud’s disease (a circulatory disorder that causes uncomfortably cold hands)
- paralysis and other movement disorders
Specialists who provide biofeedback range from psychiatrists and psychologists to dentists, internists, nurses and physical therapists. Most rely on many other techniques in addition to biofeedback. Patients usually are taught some form of relaxation exercise. Some learn to identify the circumstances that trigger their symptoms. They may also be taught how to avoid or cope with these stressful events. Most are encouraged to change their habits, and some are trained in special techniques for gaining such self-control. Biofeedback is not magic, it cannot cure disease by itself or make a person healthy. It is a tool, one of many available to health care professionals. It reminds all health professionals that behavior, thoughts, and feelings profoundly influence physical health. And it helps both patients and practioners understand that they must work together as a team.
- What should I expect? How is Biofeedback/Neurofeedback conducted?
Biofeedback training sessions last 45-90 minutes in an office setting with a professional who is licensed to administer biofeedback. A biofeedback session may involve sitting or standing comfortably with sensors applied that will measure body changes in real time. These changes can include muscle tension/relaxation at specific muscle sites, temperature changes, changes in perspiration, heart and breathing rates, and for neurofeedback, the strength of normally occurring brain waves. With coaching and training, many can be taught to control aspects of body functioning that can result in a decrease of unwanted negative effects and an increase of wanted, positive effects, often improving with continued practice over time. The goal of biofeedback/neurofeedback training is to quickly teach each client to create the best body environment to improve their condition. Once learned, these skills can be repeated outside the office and begin to improve functioning in a more generalized manner.
- Who can conduct Biofeedback/Neurofeedback training?
This typically requires extensive training and/or certification and licensure in a mental health or medical profession.
- How long does Biofeedback/Neurofeedback treatment take?
Depending on your specific concern, many people experience rapid improvement within the first 6-9 sessions. Practicing new learning outside of the office consistently can dramatically reduce the total time necessary for in office training. The more you practice new learning outside the office, the less time you spend in the office.
- How long will my new learning last?
With practice, you can expect new learning to remain stable over long periods of time. Some people request “booster” sessions 6-9 months after successfully completed training has terminated. Others are able to maintain new learning without these boosters.
- What should I expect in Biofeedback/Neurofeedback treatment?
You will likely be encouraged to have ruled, out with the help of a physician, any medical condition that might complicate or be a primary focus of your overall treatment. Treatment should begin with a diagnostic evaluation of your specific concern. From information gathered in that diagnostic, a program that fits your needs will be administered, along with instructions for home practice, that will maximize your learning over several in office training sessions. In special situations, some training can be done off site at your location, depending on your specific needs. When your desired level of learning has been achieved, sessions will taper off, then end, with booster sessions available should you want to improve or stabilize functioning.
- What is TMD?
TMD is a collection of disorders that are marked by orofacial pain, masticatory dysfunction, or both. The primary symptoms of TMJ are periauricular pain, limited mandibular functioning, and joint sounds such as clicking, popping or grinding. (Journal of Behavioral Medicine, vol 24 (4), 2001, p.341-359). Because the condition that contributes to TMJ Disorder, particularly the role of stress and muscle tension can be measured and monitored. Learning how to change your body’s response to stress and by learning to reduce muscle tension with the temporomandibular muscles can often result in relief for many sufferers of TMJ disorder.
- How can Biofeedback improve my cardiopulmonary condition?
Biofeedback helps to train and generalize the relaxation response. Many who suffer cardiopulmonary conditions experience exacerbation’s of those conditions with high and/or prolonged stress. Many cardiac conditions in fact, have their genesis in stress. When the relaxation response becomes well learned, the clients can begin to generalize and even cue this response in a broader and broader range of daily living. This reduces the contributing impact of stress on cardiopulmonary conditions.
- How can Biofeedback and/or Neurofeedback improve my (child’s) attentional issues?
Studies in neurofeedback recognize clear differences in brain wave production between those with and without attentional difficulties. With neurofeedback, clients can literally learn how to control their own brain wave patterns to more closely approximate the attentive mind. When mastered and generalized, the client can generalize attention to settings in a broader and broader range of daily living. Sometimes stress can contribute to the attentional difficulties patients present with. When this is the case, clients will learn to reduce the body’s stress response and increase the body’s relaxation response. When combined with brain training, relaxation can help many people improve their attentional capabilities in a broad range of daily living, but especially at needed times.
- How can Biofeedback/Neurofeedback enhance my peak performance?
Whether your emphasis is improving mental or physical performance and production at work, or in an activity that requires diligence and attention to excel, biofeedback and/or neurofeedback can help to help you perform at your absolute best. When biofeedback techniques of relaxation are combined with neurofeedback techniques, your performance can enter “flow,” the state of fluidly and effortlessly becoming what you are doing.
- How can Biofeedback/Neurofeedback help me musically?
Musicians are prone to repetitive motion injuries of the hands, arms, shoulders, and upper body. Biofeedback can help musicians master minimal force needed and reduce muscle strain. This type of training can also improve speed of playing with some musicians. Neurofeedback can be helpful by teaching the musician to enter the quiet space in the mind where music comes from, and to be fully present within each note, movement and composition. States of awareness, when combined with states of attention, can often heighten a musician’s artistry within the dynamic nature of music in a way that improves consistency and beautifies musical interpretation.
- How can biofeedback help my headaches/migraines?
Many headaches manifest due to tension in very small muscle groups of the head, face and scalp. Using biofeedback techniques, the headache sufferer can learn to control muscle tension to reduce the intensity and even the frequency and duration of headaches.
- How can biofeedback help my symptoms associated with acute and chronic pain (e.g., postsurgical pain, Rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, Raynaud’s disease, neuropathy)?
Because acute and chronic pain are associated with many medical conditions, you will always be encouraged to rule out with the assistance of a physician the presence of any life-threatening diseases or disorders. Pain is oftentimes exacerbated by stress and tension. By learning deep relaxation processes and focusing on the solid generalization of these newly learned skills, many patients who suffer from acute and chronic pain can reduce the intensity of pain the experience, creating more and more pain free experiences.
The focus of this type of training becomes threefold:
1) to learn to relax more quickly,
2) to learn to relax more deeply, and
3) to learn to relax for longer periods of time.
Mastering these three goals can reduce the impact of pain.