What is Biofeedback?
Biofeedback is a treatment that consists of the use of a system of sensors that allow the patient to monitor in real time different physiological parameters that provide information about the work of his organism. This treatment creates a feedback loop with which the person achieves optimal levels of control such as blood pulse and body temperature among others. The patient receives information in real time of what is happening in different parts of his body. The patient can learn to relate these events to certain sensations and regulate certain bodily functions.
This treatment creates a feedback loop with which the person achieves optimal levels of control.
Why is it done?
Biofeedback has demonstrated its scientific efficacy in treatments for insomnia, ADHD, chronic pain, anxiety disorders, phobias and others. However, this new treatment is in constant evolution and improvement, so its usefulness and guarantees are still in doubt, among the scientific communities, for the different treatments that are applied. This technique is also very useful against stress, because the brain learns, remembers what it has seen and heard. Therefore, thanks to this information, it enables the patient to maintain control over what happens in the state of health and well-being that at first is thought to be uncontrollable.
What does it consist of?
Biofeedback consists of sensors that collect the information produced by the somatic nervous system that transmits voluntary actions from the brain to the muscles. In this way, information involving the muscles is recorded by a method called electromyogram. The somatic nervous system transmits impulses of involuntary actions, for example heart rate, body temperature or substances secreted by the digestive system. Therefore, the use of sensors facilitates the control of these actions and the acquisition of the ability to correct when imbalances occur.
Preparation for biofeedback
No specific preparation for biofeedback is necessary. The most important thing is to first talk to a physician or other health professional who is knowledgeable about biofeedback therapy. There are a number of biofeedback therapists who are licensed in a different area of health care, such as nursing or physical therapy, and work under the tutelage of a physician.
After the first biofeedback session, the recording of measurements consists of patients setting their own goals. That is to say, there is no specific care guide, but it is nevertheless important to determine what the patient wants to achieve in order to understand where he/she is in the treatment process and to be able to make an evaluative follow-up of the biofeedback in case it is not working and the sessions need to be modified. After the first session, training begins, the fundamental part of biofeedback. The measuring devices are reconnected and the information coming from our body will arrive through visual or auditory stimuli. Thus a scale can be observed how our physiological response increases or decreases after performing the exercises set by the expert. In this way, the therapist’s mission is to teach the patient how to perform exercises to control breathing, relaxation, concentration, recalling memories, using images that remind him/her of different sensations…
Alternatives to biofeedback
The biofeedback treatment is already an alternative treatment, but if we go back to the middle of the 20th century, one of the professors of the University of Chicago, Joseph Kamiya discovered that he was able to control his brain waves, and consequently his psychophysiological processes. The technique was evolving and perfecting and only 15 years later, Barry Sterman, began to use it for therapeutic purposes. With this, biofeedback was born.
On the other hand, neurofeedback is a modality that can be found within biofeedback and is becoming more and more widespread. This is a very specific part of biofeedback that is focused on the electrical activity of the brain, in other words, it teaches how to control brain waves to adjust the mental state.