What is Biofeedback?
Biofeedback is a therapeutic technique in which patients are made aware of physiological changes in their bodies as a response to stress, anxiety, physical strain and other emotional stimuli. This is accomplished by monitoring key bodily functions including breathing, muscle tension, heart-rate, blood pressure, peripheral skin temperature and EEG brainwaves.
A doctor attaches electrodes with sensors to the patients’ body which send signals to a monitor that can be viewed by the patient. This allows the patient to see how the body is reacting to various stimuli and ultimately learn to control these reactions that in the past were involuntary.
How does biofeedback therapy work?
Biofeedback allows patients to make positive changes by seeing what’s going on inside their bodies. Understanding physiological reactions and their impact makes it possible to learn how to respond in healthier ways. These learned responses eventually become automatic through practice involving repetitive exercises and positive reinforcement.
For example, biofeedback combats stress by teaching relaxation techniques. It is possible to consciously manipulate breathing, heart rate and other usually involuntary functions to override your body’s response to stressful situations.
How can biofeedback be incorporated into everyday life?
After several sessions, the patients learn to respond to their own internal signals rather than relying on the external signals from the machine. Outside of the office, biofeedback patients report becoming sufficiently aware of negative triggers, allowing them to automatically respond in healthier ways. Studies have shown that patients can maintain the skills learned doing biofeedback over many years and even a lifetime. Occasionally, a few sessions with a therapist can be helpful to brush up on skills.
How many sessions with my therapist before I can expect to see results?
This will vary from patient to patient depending on level of commitment to the therapy and severity of condition but usually benefits can be seen within 10 sessions or less. In general patients doing biofeedback should meet with their therapist once a week for 45 minutes per session for approximately 10-16 weeks. Patients are expected to do a small amount of homework and should practice what is learned at the office for best results.
What are some of the different types of biofeedback available?
Respiratory sinus arrhythmia biofeedback (RSA biofeedback) also known as Heartrate variability biofeedback is frequently used for the treatment of phobias. By taking measures of change in heart rate and respiration patterns, the patient learns how to breath more effectively to reduce anxiety.
Electroencephalography biofeedback (EEG biofeedback or neurofeedback) measures brainwave activity and is especially effective in treating patients with ADHD. It can also be used for peak athletic performance and has been successfully utilized by professional sports teams.
Electromyography biofeedback (EMG biofeedback) measures muscle tension as it changes over time as used in treating anxiety, chronic pain, hypertension, tension headache and migraines.
Thermal or temperature biofeedback measures body temperature changes over time. The patient can be taught hand-warming and hand-cooling to treat conditions such as Raynaud’s Disease, hypertension, anxiety and chronic pain.
What are some of the conditions biofeedback has been successful in treating?
- Anxiety and phobias
- Migraine and tension headaches
- Neck and back pain
- Raynaud’s Disease
- Jaw pain (TMJ)
- General muscle tension
- Weakness in muscles, following strokes
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Contact us or call our office at (212) 860-8500 to learn if Biofeedback is the right treatment for you.