How is biofeedback used?
Clinical biofeedback techniques that grew out of the early laboratory procedures are now widely used to treat an ever-lengthening list of conditions. These include:
- Migraine headaches, tension headaches, and many other types of pain
- Disorders of the digestive system
- High blood pressure and its opposite, low blood pressure
- Cardiac arrhythmias (abnormalities, sometimes dangerous, in the rhythm of the heartbeat)
- Raynaud’s disease (a circulatory disorder that causes uncomfortably cold hands)
- Paralysis and other movement disorders
Specialists who provide biofeedback training range from psychiatrists and psychologists to dentists, internists, nurses, and physical therapists. Most rely on many other techniques in addition to biofeedback. Patients usually are taught some form of relaxation exercise. Some learn to identify the circumstances that trigger their symptoms. They may also be taught how to avoid or cope with these stressful events. Most are encouraged to change their habits, and some are trained in special techniques for gaining such self-control. Biofeedback is not magic. It cannot cure disease or by itself make a person healthy. It is a tool, one of many available to health care professionals. It reminds physicians that behavior, thoughts, and feelings profoundly influence physical health. And it helps both patients and doctors understand that they must work together as a team.
Biofeedback places unusual demands on patients. They must examine their day-to-day lives to learn if they may be contributing to their own distress. They must recognize that they can, by their own efforts, remedy some physical ailments. They must commit themselves to practicing biofeedback or relaxation exercises every day. They must change bad habits, even ease up on some good ones. Most important, they must accept much of the responsibility for maintaining their own health.
This Material was provided through:
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Division of Communications and Education, National Institute of Mental Health
Public Health Service – Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Mental Health Administration
5600 Fishers Lane
Rockville, MD 20857 USA
DHHS Publication No (ADM) 83-1273
This Material was written by Bette Runck, staff writer, Division of Communication and Education, National Institute of Mental Health.
NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF MENTAL HEALTH- Division of Scientific and Public Information-Plain Talk Series- Ruth Kay, Editor