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The word “biofeedback” was coined in the late 1969 to describe lab 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. Biofeedback is a training technique in which people are taught to improve their health and performance by using signals from their own bodies. One commonly used device, for example, picks up electrical signals from the muscles and translates the signals into a form that people can detect. This device triggers a flashing light or activates a beeper every time muscles become more tense. If one wants to relax tense muscles, one must try to slow down the flashing or beeping. People learn to associate sensations from the muscle with actual levels of tension and develop a new, healthy habit of keeping muscles only as tense as is necessary for as long as necessary. After treatment, individuals are then able to repeat this response at will without being attached to the sensors.
Clinicians rely on complicated biofeedback machines in somewhat the same way that you rely on your scale or thermometer. Their machines can detect a person’s internal bodily functions with far greater sensitivity and precision than a person can alone. This information may be valuable. Both patients and therapists use it to gauge and direct the progress of treatment.
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.
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, and many other types of chronic pain Disorders of the digestive system Incontinence 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) Epilepsy Paralysis, spinal cord injury and other movement disorders
In addition, studies have shown that we have more control over so-called involuntary bodily functions than we once thought possible. As a a result, biofeedback can train individuals with techniques for living a healthier life overall – whether one is afflicted with a medical condition or not.
Did you Know that………..
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 prostrate 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.