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Biofeedback

Biofeedback, also known as biofeedback training, is a complementary, alternative and very successful medical treatment used to control, reduce and eventually cure both physical and mental illnesses. The sufferer is connected to electric sensors that allow the person’s own thoughts to send and receive information to and from the body which is completely controlled by the mind. The thought process and main reason behind the biofeedback training is that many actions that we as people do everyday are done involuntarily and unconsciously. In fact, whereas we consciously decide to raise our hand and wave it to say hello to a friend, on the other hand, we do not constantly tell our heart to beat or to beat faster in certain situations. It just happens, as some of our body functions are dictated and influenced by the external environment and how we perceive it.

Therefore, with this technique, patients who suffer from severely high heart rate, for example, can actually focus on thinking about their heart rate slowing down and thanks to the electric sensors, this message is sent to the body who positively reacts to the information and request. Moreover, biofeedback is also used as a relaxation technique whose widely recognized effects on muscle relaxation have been helping a large number of patients throughout the world.    

What kind of patients can benefit from biofeedback?

Biofeedback is a medical technique which is widely used among a variety of patients with different types of needs and symptoms. Whether you suffer from an anxiety disorder or from high blood pressure, biofeedback can be suggested to you by your doctor as a way for you to gain control of your body and understand its functions. Here is a list of the most common physical and mental illnesses that biofeedback training can help cure and resolve:

·         Anxiety disorder

·         High blood pressure

·         Incontinence

·         Constipation

·         Heart rate instability

·         Stomach pain

·         Irregular or uncontrollable bowl movements

·         Migraines

·         Reynaud’s disease

·         Muscle tension

·         General body pain

·         Side effects of chemotherapy

·         Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

·         Asthma

·         Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

·         Epilepsy

·         Body injury


Why do doctors recommend biofeedback?

There are many reasons why doctors recommend giving this technique a try. In fact, its many advantages definitely outweigh the very few cons that patients who are treated with biofeedback can sometimes suffer from. First and foremost, both doctors and patients seem to favor this technique because it is non invasive and does not require any medications. In fact, biofeedback is chosen especially when patients are diagnosed with some type of allergy that prevents them from taking certain medications. Many pregnant women, who are generally not allowed to take any medications unless strictly recommended by the doctor as they could negatively affect the baby’s growth, tend to prefer this type of therapy as it does not pose a threat to their unborn child.

Moreover, biofeedback training also helps patients take control of their body and overall health. This has been proven to be a great advantage in patients who suffer from an anxiety disorder and are terrified of losing control of the situation. In fact, some of the main side effects that an anxiety disorder can on a sufferer are body-functions related, such as a higher heart rate which leads to high blood pressure which can cause severe risks like feeling dizzy, becoming short-breathed and in worst cases even fainting. Therefore, this technique will work as a relaxation treatment which will allow these patients to actually control their body and its main functions by learning how to relax properly.

What happens during a biofeedback therapy session?

Usually, a biofeedback therapy session can last between a minimum of 30 minutes to a maximum of one hour.  Depending on how serious the patient’s problem has been diagnosed to be, the sufferer will be requested to attend 10 biofeedback training sessions but in the most severe cases, the number could become as high as 50 therapy sessions.

As soon as the biofeedback therapy begins, the doctor places several electrical sensors onto the patient’s body. Each sensor has a specific function. For example, they can control brain waves, body temperature and muscle tension.  As soon as an electrical sensor detects something abnormal that is causing problems to the patient’s body, the sensor beeps or flashes and the patient knows where the problem is coming from. Therefore, the doctor walks her/him through the process, at first quite difficult, of trying to change thoughts and sending positive thoughts and energy to the part of the body that is suffering. If this technique succeeds, the electrical sensor will stop beeping or flashing and the patient will feel much better both psychologically and physically for having had the power to stop and control the pain.

There are several types of biofeedback monitoring, which will be used according to the type of psychological and physical problems you are trying to take care of. Here is a list of some the biofeedback techniques:

·         Galvanic skin response training. This type of biofeedback technique monitors sweat glands and body sweat in general. People who suffer from an anxiety disorder find this type of treatment very useful as one of the main symptoms of anxiety is uncontrollable body temperature.  
·         Electromyography (EMG) biofeedback. This type provides the patient with knowledge and information about the muscle tension and it is useful when trying to learn how to relax.
·         Heart rate variability biofeedback. As the name itself suggests, this type of biofeedback monitoring is useful to keep track of heart rate, blood pressure and lung functions.

Results and main goals of biofeedback

Doctors highly recommend biofeedback therapy as it is a great substitute for unwanted medications and also because great results can be achieved by the patient, even if it might require a very long time of undergoing controlled biofeedback therapy sessions. The ultimate goal, however, is for patients to understand how to keep control of their mind and body and ultimately practice this technique at home in the hope of finally cure what they had been diagnosed with.  

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