Biofeedback

Definition

Biofeedback is a technique that measures bodily functions and gives you information about them in order to help train you to control them.

Information

Biofeedback is most often based on measurements of:

  • Blood pressure
  • Brain waves (EEG)
  • Breathing
  • Heart rate
  • Muscle tension
  • Skin conductivity of electricity
  • Skin temperature

By watching these measurements, you can learn how to alter these functions by relaxing or by holding pleasant images in your mind.

Patches, called electrodes, are placed on different parts of your body. They measure your heart rate, blood pressure, or other function. A monitor displays the results. A tone or other sound may be used to let you know when you've reached a goal or certain state.

Your health care provider will describe a situation and guide you through relaxation techniques. The monitor lets you see how your heart rate and blood pressure change in response to being stressed or remaining relaxed.

Biofeedback teaches you how to control and change these bodily functions. By doing so, you feel more relaxed or more able to cause specific muscle relaxation processes. This may help treat such conditions as:

Figures

BiofeedbackBiofeedback

References

Burgio KL, Kraus SR, Menefee S, Borello-France D, Corton M, Johnson HW, et al. Behavioral therapy to enable women with urge incontinence to discontinue drug treatment: a randomized trial.Ann Intern Med. 2008;149(3):161-9.

Camilleri M. Disorders of gastrointestinal motility.In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds.Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 138.

Loder E, Rozzoli P. Tension-type headache.BMJ. 2008;336(7635):88-92.

Magis D, Schoenen J. Treatment of migraine: update on new therapies.Curr Opin Neuro. 2011;24(3):203-210.

Nygaard I. Clinical practice. Idiopathic urgency urinary incontinence. N Engl J Med.2010;363(12):1156-62.

Revision

Last reviewed 10/30/2011 by Luc Jasmin, MD, PhD, Department of Neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, and Department of Anatomy at UCSF, San Francisco, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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