Biofeedback is an alternative medicine treatment technique wherein people are guided to keenly observe the indications that their own body sends them, and then act on them positively to improve their health. Biofeedback therapists use this technique to even help stroke victims in regaining movement in paralysed muscles. Psychologists also use biofeedback to help tense and stressed out patients to learn to relax. Besides, specialists in many different medical fields use the technique of biofeedback to help their patients to cope up with pain.
If you look back, you may find out that you have yourself used biofeedback on a number of occasions to figure out the condition of your body. If you have ever checked your temperature with a thermometer or stepped on a weighing scale to check your weight, it means you have used biofeedback, because these are a couple of instruments which give you instant feedback on the condition of your body. The thermometer measures your body temperature and tells you whether you are running a fever, while the weighing scale tells you whether your body has gained or lost weight. Once you have this information, you will surely take appropriate steps to improve the condition of the body. When you’re running a slight fever – not high enough to visit your doctor – you drink plenty of fluids and tale rest. When you have gained weight, you decide to eat less in order to reduce your body weight, though you may not always be able to stick to the resolution.
There are several such medical instruments or machines on which doctors rely for instant biofeedback on the condition of your body, or any of its parts, in much the same way that you rely on your scale or thermometer. These machines can detect a person’s internal bodily functions with far more accuracy than a person can do by himself. This information is valuable for the doctor, as he prescribes medication or any other medical intervention that your body may require, based on these findings.
A biofeedback machine also acts as a ‘sixth sense’, which allows patients to ‘see’ or ‘hear’ activity inside their bodies. One such commonly used machine is used to pick up electrical signals from the body muscles, and translates these signals into a form that patients can recognise, for example it may trigger a flashing light or a beep every time the muscles become too tense. It is a sure indication for the patient to relax these tense muscles until the flashing or beeping stops.
Clinical biofeedback therapies are now widely used to treat a host of conditions, which include:
- Headaches caused by migraine or tension, and many other types of aches
- Digestive system disorders
- High and low blood pressure
- Cardiac arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat)
- Raynaud’s disease (a circulatory system disorder that causes uncomfortably cold hands)
- Paralysis and other movement related disorders