Initial Biofeedback Session + Stress Test
Initial Stress test can gauge your vascular and cardiovascular health as well as how your nervous systems handles stress. See Sample report here:
Biofeedback is a mind-body therapy that can improve physical and mental health. During a biofeedback session, a practitioner will use painless sensors to measure certain bodily functions. With practice, you will be able to make adjustments without the equipment. For it to work, you must attend multiple sessions and participate actively and practice between appointments.
BIOFEEDBACK HAS BEEN SCIENTIFICALLY PROVEN TO HELP WITH:
- Reduce stress, depression, anxiety, PTSD and cravings for drugs/alcohol
- Lower the experience of chronic pain
- Migraines and Headaches
- Reduce High Blood Pressure
- Reduce the intensity and/or patterns of mental health issues like drug and alcohol addiction, depression and eating disorders
- Improve sleep quality by reducing hyperarousal and insomnia
- Help those with ADHD find a greater ability to focus
- Improve the benefits of other treatment methods
- Aid those not being helped by medication
- Encourage empowerment and autonomy
The number of treatments varies widely, depending on the:
- Condition you are trying to manage.
- Severity of your symptoms.
- Response of your body.
- Amount you practice between sessions.
They say "stress kills". But that's not totally accurate, it's our lack of resilience to stress that does.
So What is stress?
Stress is a term used to describe the wear and tear the body experiences in reaction to everyday tensions and pressures. Change, illness, injury or career and lifestyle changes are common causes of stress. It’s how we respond, however, to the emotional pressure and tension we feel from the little everyday hassles–rush-hour traffic, waiting in line, managing work/life balance, toxic home or work environments, too many e-mails or demands on our life and body that do the most damage.
How does stress affect health?
Stress affects people physically, mentally and emotionally. According to the American Institute of Stress, up to 90% of all health problems are related to stress. Too much stress can contribute to and agitate many health problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, depression, migraine headaches and sleep disorders.
What Is Biofeedback?
Biofeedback therapy is a type of training program with the goal of teaching patients to control involuntary physiological processes — meaning those that are both mental and physical — that contribute to painful symptoms and distress. A report published in Mental Health in Family Medicine words the biofeedback definition as “a mind–body technique in which individuals learn how to modify their physiology for the purpose of improving physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.”
It is literally feedback on your Biology, and there are 100’s of different ways that it can and is being used. On this page we are going to discuss the general and traditional Biofeedback Therapy Form.
Biofeedback therapy is sometimes used to manage high blood pressure, muscle pain or tension, anxiety, IBS symptoms and insomnia. What do so many of these health problems have in common? They’re triggered, or at least made worse by, chronic stress. For that reason, some experts believe that biofeedback is beneficial and able improve overall health and wellness because it’s effective as a natural stress relieving technique.
How Does Biofeedback Therapy Work?
Here’s an overview of what you can expect from a biofeedback therapy session:
- A biofeedback technician first takes an assessment of a patient’s condition, usually by performing a stress test or other forms of data analysis. These tests help the practitioner determine how their symptoms might be minimized by learning to manipulate involuntary physical and mental behaviors.
- Biofeedback requires specialized equipment. A biofeedback machine converts physiological signals (like heartbeats and brainwaves) into meaningful information that the patient can understand. The types of tests that are frequently used in biofeedback therapies are those that measure skin temperature (GSR), heart rate, muscle tension and brainwave activities. Biofeedback machines that are used to performed these tests include skin surface scans, electromyography and MRI brain scans.
- Because sessions require active patient participation, biofeedback therapy is somewhat similar to certain aspects of physical therapy (PT). Like PT, biofeedback training usually involves practicing at home between sessions, includes some trial and error to determine what works best and requires patience on the part of the patient.
- Most biofeedback therapy sessions take about 20 to 45 minutes. The typical course of treatment usually lasts two to three months in order to provide the most benefits. Some patients, however, choose to participate in biofeedback therapy for much longer, sometimes even for years. The goal is for the patient to be able to practice self-regulation techniques that they’ve learned from their therapist on their own, even after formal sessions end and the monitoring machines are no longer used.
Who Benefits from Biofeedback Therapy?
Psychologists and sports trainers have been using biofeedback for decades. Cleveland Clinic is in the midst of a large study looking at expanding the use of biofeedback to three populations of patients in need — those with coronary artery disease, diabetes and multiple sclerosis. Research continues to mount in favor of using biofeedback to improve these patients’ quality of life.
Conditions that are commonly treated with biofeedback therapies now include:
- Chronic pain
- Muscle tension or spasms
- Urinary incontinence (frequent urges to urinate)
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Tension or migraine headaches
- TMJ symptoms (temporomandibular joint dysfunction)
- Trouble sleeping or insomnia
- Digestive symptoms including constipation, IBS and diarrhea
- Eating disorders
- ADHD and autism spectrum disorders
- Cancer recovery
- Heart disease
- And just about any other condition made worse by stress
6 Benefits of Biofeedback Therapy
1. Reduces Headaches
Because it can lower someone’s stress response, clinical studies shown that biofeedback is effective in reducing the frequency and severity of tension and migraine headaches. One study published by Harvard Medical School found that biofeedback training allowed many patients to decrease their dependence on pain medications and to experience less pain overall. (although researchers also found similar benefits from teaching patients general relaxation techniques alone without additional using biofeedback, as this is the goal in Biofeedback.)
Patients in the Harvard study also learned pain theories regarding relaxation techniques. A portion also went through additional education about biofeedback training. All patients showed a statistically significant decrease in the frequency and severity of the headaches in the first 12 months; that benefit continued for 36 months. Both groups also reported lower medication use and less medical care costs. (4)
2. Helps Treat Constipation
Biofeedback therapy is considered a well-established treatment modality for patients with several forms of chronic constipation (including dyssynergic defecation and fecal incontinence). Randomized controlled trials have found that 70 to 80 percent of all patients undergoing specialized biofeedback training in treatment centers experience improvements in symptoms. (5a)
Therapists now use biofeedback to help teach patients suffering from reoccurring constipation to better sense and control muscles in their digestive system that are related to bowel movements. For example, impaired rectal sensation and poor ability to squeeze muscles in the abdomen are both corrected using biofeedback maneuvers. Although barriers to biofeedback still exist within the general population (including lack of insurance coverage, distance to local treatment facilities and acute medical issues), researchers continue to work on improving ways to offer biofeedback therapy in an affordable manner to those with serious digestive complaints.
Another study found that both home-based and office-based biofeedback therapy were effective for the “number of complete spontaneous bowel movements per week as well as patient satisfaction with bowel function.” (5b) Research such as this shows the potential to broaden the availability of biofeedback therapy through home sessions without disrupting efficacy.
3. Reduces Anxiety
Biofeedback helps to make patients more aware of how their thoughts, feelings and behaviors all interact. This is why it’s frequently used in conjunction with other therapies, including cognitive behavioral therapy, or mindfulness meditation training, to reduce someone’s stress response.
As opposed to some forms of treatment, such as medications, biofeedback therapy is a process of training. Biofeedback therapists teach patients to pay more attention to the ways stress impacts the body. For example, anxiety causes someone’s heart rate to speed up, muscles to tense and the mind to worry. This, in turn, makes sleep and relaxation difficult. Through purposefully tracking symptoms and learning over and over again to reduce them using feedback as a guide, relaxation becomes better enforced.
4. Lowers Chronic & Short-Term Pain
Finding non-pharmacological techniques for controlling both short-term (acute) and chronic pain is now becoming more important than ever, given how much attention has been given to the potential for addiction of pain-killing drugs.
One type of biofeedback, neurofeedback, is being used in many treatment settings as an alternative method for pain reduction. It’s being used for things like management of stroke, post-traumatic events, headaches, injuries, chronic muscle tension, diabetic neuropathic pain and cancer recovery. Some evidence shows that it takes about 40 to 60 training sessions to achieve the most benefits. Some studies show this amount can result in up to 50 percent less pain depending on the condition. Thankfully, studies suggest it’s useful in both children and adults. (6)
5. Can Aid in Improving Heart Health
Studies suggest that biofeedback therapy helps improve control over heart rate variability and arousal of the sympathetic nervous system. This neuro-cardio combo is responsible for many of the physical effects of someone’s stress response. Biofeedback training is also important in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases complications including anxiety, trouble sleeping and depression.
One form of biofeedback known as biofeedback-assisted stress management (BFSM) is especially geared towards managing cardiovascular diseases. It aim to lower over-activation of the autonomic nervous system. (Over-activation can negatively affect the heart.) This therapy model could reduce psychological stress, improve quality of life and improve clinical status in people with heart disease. A 2011 study published in the Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine suggests that use of BFSM by heart failure patients may actually cause cellular and molecular remodeling of the failing heart, change abnormal heart rate variability and have a positive impact on side effects due to suffering from a serious chronic disease.
6. Reduces Hyperarousal & Trouble Sleeping
Electroencephalography (EEG) feedback is now commonly used to control symptoms of hyperarousal, including insomnia and ADHD symptoms. (Hyperarousal is a class of symptoms that often impact people living with PTSD.)
Research conducted in 2011 by the Department of Psychophysiology at Helfgott Research Institute in Oregon found that two forms of neurofeedback treatments (sensorimotor protocol and a sequential, quantitative EEG model) successfully demonstrated usefulness for treating insomnia symptoms. After undergoing 20 15-minute biofeedback sessions, both groups experienced significant decreases in dysfunctional symptoms like daytime sleepiness and hyperarousal during the night. The study participants also reported significant improvements in scores on several insomnia measurement scales (Insomnia Severity Index, Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Inventory , PSQI Sleep Efficiency Test, and Quality of Life Inventory).
History of Biofeedback Therapy & Interesting Facts
Biofeedback has been in clinical use since at least the 1970s, and originated out of HArvard in 1908 to help improve self-control of physiological functions. Biofeedback machines have come a long way, but for at least four decades, biofeedback learning has focused on tracking brainwaves, muscle tension, temperature, sleep and the cardiovascular system.
The National Institute of Complementary and Alternative Medicine considers biofeedback to be an effective mind–body therapy. Surveys now show that in the U.S alone, approximately 58 percent of adults and 19 percent of children are using some form of alternative therapy that draws on principles of biofeedback training. For example, meditation training, yoga, self-imagery practices and deep breathing exercises all include elements of learning through feedback and reinforcement.
Biofeedback vs. Neurofeedback
- Neurofeedback is one specific type of biofeedback therapy. In fact, in the U.S, it’s currently the most widely available and popular form of biofeedback training. We offer a patented and advanced form of Neurofeedback here at Tucson BIofeedback. Learn More about Neurofeedback
- Electroencephalography (EEG) feedback is another way to refer to “neurofeedback.” Neurofeedback is basically a type of biofeedback that measures brain waves (electrical brain activity) using electrodes on the head.
- A key principle of neurofeedback is that electrical “oscillations” (such as theta waves or beta waves) influence awareness, arousal and ability to function — and that dysfunctional activities in certain key regions of the brain correlate with mental disorders.
- Like other forms of biofeedback, neurofeedback addresses problems that are made worse from stress and brain deregulation. These include: anxiety-depression spectrum disorders, attention deficits and behavioral disorders, sleep disorders, headaches and migraines, PMS and emotional disturbances.
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