Biofeedback is a technique that uses monitoring instruments to measure and feed back information about muscle tension, heart rate, sweat responses, skin temperature, or brainactivity.
Terms associated with biofeedback include applied psychophysiology or behavioral physiology. It is also viewed as a mind-body therapy method used in complementary and alternative medicine. Biofeedback is an important part of understanding the relationship between physical state and thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
The purpose of biofeedback is to enhance an individual's awareness of physical reactions to physical, emotional, or psychological stress, and their ability to influence their own physiological responses. The overall purpose is to develop self-regulation skills that play a role in improving health and well-being.
Biofeedback has been a useful tool in helping individuals with urinary incontinence regain bladder control by controlling the muscles used in urination. Sensors are placed in the vaginal or anal canal to help individuals learn when the muscles are properly contracted. A recent study found that this type of biofeedback treatment was safe, effective, and well liked by women patients 55 years and older.
Conditions related to stress are also treated using biofeedback, such as certain types of headaches, high blood pressure, bruxism or teeth grinding, post-traumatic stress disorder(PTSD), eating disorders, substance abuse, and some anxiety disorders. In treatment of stress-related conditions, biofeedback is often used in combination with relaxation training. Sometimes, biofeedback is used to help individuals learn how to experience deeper relaxation, such as in childbirth education programs or general stress management. This is referred to as biofeedback-assisted relaxation training. Even for individuals who can achieve relaxation through other strategies such as meditationor relaxation, biofeedback can be a valuable added technique. Biofeedback offers special advantages, such as allowing the clinician to track closely the places where an individual tenses up and helps the individual learn what thoughts and feelings are associated with the tension.
Joneis Thomas Ph.D., The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit,