These machines are used to chart internal functions with more accuracy than a human alone is capable of, and the results are used to determine and then gauge how well the treatment is working.
As an example, say you as a biofeedback patient need to learn how to relax, because you're headed for a stroke. Along with a change in diet and exercise, you need to learn how to stay calm. A biofeedback machine hooked up to you in the office, you learn at what level of stress you start to have physical problems (which are indicated by lights or a buzzer, what ever the machine does to indicate an off balance of heart rate or stressed - tightened- muscles.) the object is for the patient to practice slowing down their heart rate or relax their muscles until the machines light dims, or buzzer stops going off. This is used as a gauge to help patients learn how to listen to and control their bodies. The biofeedback therapist teaches the patient exercises and techniques to use for adjusting the body's rhythm.
In the 1960's laboratory experiments were being conducted to examine research subject's brain wave activity, blood pressure, and other functions of the body which are under normal situations are not controlled voluntarily. The term biofeedback was born. The outcomes of these experiments was hoped to be increased creativity at will-by a person being able to change their own brain patterns-or even more important, the ability to decrease ones own blood pressure, making prescription blood pressure medication unnecessary.
Although this hope was found to be unrealistic-too many variables-it has been recorded that biofeedback can help with other conditions such as chronic pain and stress reduction. Biofeedback techniques can help with migraines, digestive disorders, and dangerous rhythms of heartbeat. The basic treatment involves teaching the patient different forms of relaxation to adjust the different levels of heart rate and breathing, digesting, etc. the gift of biofeedback is that it serves to remind health care providers and patients that our thoughts and emotions do play a big role in causing and treating symptoms of illness.
A lot of the outcome depends on the patient. You must adhere to regimented eating and exercise habits and change your stressful lifestyle in order to achieve results. You need to commit to learning and practicing stress relieving techniques. Relaxation seems to be the key in biofeedback, and although scientists can not yet determine exactly how it all works, they are able to document that biofeedback does, in fact, teach patients how to control seemingly involuntary conditions of the nervous and circulatory systems. This is thought to be part of the flight or fight reflex system that we all have, and once had much more strongly, when humans were threatened with physical harm more than any other.
When we experience stress today, our bodies still react with the same type of response we did as early man. Our pupils dilate and we start to sweat. Our heart rate increases, etc. but because we live in a "civilized" society now, we can no longer just lash out at seeming threats. So we hold it in and get sick. The practice of recognizing these signs and symptoms of stress in our bodies and the ability to control them-thus not becoming ill-is at the heart of biofeedback.
This information is not presented by a medical practitioner and is for educational and informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read. The statements in this article have not been evaluated by the FDA, and are not intended to “diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease".
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