Biofeedback is a non-pharmaceutical method of treatment in which patients are trained to control their own physiology to improve physical and psychological health. For example, a patient who is trained to control their temperature can help manage the symptoms of headaches and enhance their general relaxation.
Biofeedback has an “efficacious” rating for successfully treating the following disorders:
• Migraine and tension headaches
• Chronic pain
• Attention deficit disorder
• Children’s stomach pain
• Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD)
The “efficacious” rating follows the Chambless and Hollon (1998) recommendation guidelines which are determined by two professional organizations, The Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback (AAPB) and International Society For Neurofeedback and Research (ISNR) (Moss & Gunkelman, 2002).
Commonly used biofeedback methods:
• Temperature training
• Skin conductance (aka galvanic skin response)
• Heart rate variability
• EEG biofeedback
Complex software and equipment systems are used for biofeedback, and a great deal of training is necessary to learn any given system. The Brain Clinic uses the following software:
• pir HEG
• Thought Technology
Biofeedback, behavioral management and the future of healthcare:
Biofeedback can literally save resources in health care, and is under-utilized, especially considering that an overall goal of biofeedback is giving patients control over their own physiology such that their health can be improved.
The implications of biofeedback with regard to the future of healthcare are substantial. Imagine training the next generation to control major aspects of their physiology! If people could relax at will, control their heart rate, calm themselves by lowering their skin conductance, abort their headaches by controlling their body temperature — there would be fewer visits to doctors and more people would be happier because of their ability to manage their conditions. With biofeedback, along with behavioral management, more control over one’s health is quite possible.
For more information about other medical disorders and biofeedback, please visit The Brain Clinic.
Chambless, D., & Hollon, S. (1998). Defining empirically supported therapies. Journal of Consulting & Clinical Psychology, 66, 7-18.
Moss, D., & Gunkelman, J. (2002). Task force report on methodology and empirically supported treatments: Introduction and summary. Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, 27, (4), 261-262.