Biofeedback Questions & Answers
How is biofeedback used?
Biofeedback teaches participants how to identify the circumstances and stressors that trigger their symptoms. They may also learn how to avoid or cope with stressful events. Most are encouraged to change their habits, and some are trained in special techniques for gaining self-control and focusing intentions on desired objectives; such as stress reduction, pain management, performance goals, mental focus, or subtle muscle control.
Biofeedback is one of the many tools available to health care professionals, and it can be a productive complement to any form of a medical or general health program. It is most effective when participants accept responsibility for maintaining their own health, change bad habits, and recognize that they can, by their own efforts, remedy some physical ailments.
What are the benefits of biofeedback?
Scientific research and government regulators support the following claims for biofeedback:
Stress Reduction Pain Management Muscle Re-education
Most people who benefit from biofeedback suffer from conditions that are caused or aggravated by stress. Stress reduction can result in very positive shifts in the central nervous system, which governs mental and emotional states, hormones, immunity, digestion and assimilation, heart and lung function, blood pressure, blood sugar regulation, and other vital functions.
As a consequence, a wide range of beneficial "side-effects" often occur which support healing and improve the quality of life for
Further research results are documented in Research.
What beneficial "side-effects"are commonly experienced by biofeedback participants?
Relaxation training may result in many beneficial “side-effects” that include, but are not limited to:
•·Reductions in stress, pain, hypertension, heart rate and blood pressure, pathological symptoms, anxiety, depression, anger, reaction times, spasms/palsy/tics, bowel irritability, dizziness/vertigo
•· Increases in the ability to focus, ability to pay attention, and ability to concentrate
•· Increases in short and long-term memory skills, physical and/or mental dexterity, and physical mobility
•· Increases in oxygenation of cells, feelings of general well-being
•· Increases in happiness, joy, courage, and/or peacefulness
•· Improvement in athletic performance, athletic recovery, and mind-body awareness
Some benefits are particular to certain kinds of biofeedback, whereas others are more general.
Does biofeedback cause undesirable side-effects?
Biofeedback is one of the safest medical modalities. Unwanted side-effects are uncommon, and they are typically mild and always temporary. The most common is drowsiness, which is usually inherent with deep relaxation.
Can biofeedback diagnose or treat specific diseases?
A diagnosis is a decision made by a physician, based on evidence obtained from various means, including medical devices and other tests. Devices by themselves, like CT scans and MRI's, do not diagnose or treat anything. They are tools of the practitioner.
Only physicians who are licensed to diagnose or treat specific illnesses are allowed to provide diagnoses or disease care.
Stress causes or complicates nearly all disease processes; therefore, stress reduction techniques, like biofeedback, are always beneficial and supportive of natural healing processes.
Can biofeedback be used safely with other medical and wellness programs?
Yes. Biofeedback encourages relaxation, positive lifestyle change, health education, and improved mind-body-spirit awareness. Biofeedback will likely work synergistically to improve the health benefits of any medical or complementary program. Of course, you should always disclose your participation in biofeedback with your physician, particularly if you are being treated for a serious medical condition.
Why do some critics say that devices that impart frequencies, micro-currents, or other forms of "information" fields are not actually biofeedback?
Biofeedback is the use of instruments and devices that measure biological information and feed the results back to a participant. The results are then used to educate and train the participant. Of course, there are different kinds of devices that measure different kinds of information, and there are many different applications.
Some conventional definitions are more limited and do not yet incorporate any of the most recent biofeedback capabilities, like entrainment, bio-resonance, electro-physiological reactivity, and other forms of biophysical feedback that involve low-level energy fields, frequencies, or unconscious interaction.
At one time, the various parameters used to define today's conventional biofeedback were considered new and unproven, such as ECG, EEG, and GSR. It took time and research to build mainstream credibility, as it will with frontier technologies that stretch the definitions now. Inevitably, the definition of biofeedback will continue to evolve and expand with technology, as does the definition of "telephone."
Can the benefits of biofeedback be attributed to the "Placebo Effect?"
The Placebo Effect is part of the response to any active medical intervention. It describes the extent that an individual’s perception of a treatment assists in alleviating a symptom or disease. In other words, this effect represents an individual’s ability to heal themselves based on what they think and believe, combined with their inherent physiological capacity to heal.
In fact, this self-healing capacity is a very important feature of human biology, and as a prize-winning author and biologist Rupert Sheldrake, PhD., says, "Any way of unleashing more of that is going to be a better system.”
Medical research often uses placebos in order to measure the efficacy of a specific drug, surgery, or other intervention. The idea is to control the variable of a person’s belief and see if the intervention works better than nothing.” Being able to weigh benefits vs. risks is particularly important in drug and surgical interventions since both can maim or kill the patient. Doing nothing is often preferable.
Biofeedback techniques are designed to engage the mind of the participant, not work around it. The point is to train participants to change some beliefs and behaviors, think in ways that help them achieve their goals, and improve their conscious and unconscious control over their bodies. Biofeedback devices have been proven to accelerate the learning, and in many cases, have outperformed placebos in clinical trials.
Does research support the use of biofeedback?
Yes. The volume of biofeedback research is vast, and it is growing extremely quickly. Various kinds of biofeedback have been proven useful in treating a wide variety of clinical disorders, especially stress-related problems, pain, and conditions involving poor muscle coordination.
Double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical research projects are currently underway to investigate the efficacy of EPR Biofeedback for stress, pain, and anxiety.
Biofeedback and other related forms of bio-energetic medicine are among the most exciting and fast-growing fields in medical research today.