Biofeedback is a form of mind control over the body that allows a person to reduce sensations of pain. Biofeedback is a technique that involves training the mind by using instruments that measure body functions.
The idea of controlling body functions with the mind is not new. Many Eastern philosophies, such as Yoga, are based on the belief that meditation, and other thought processes, can control the body. In its modern applications, instruments that display a body function are used to direct and focus the mind.
Biofeedback is most often used with instruments that measure body pressure, brain waves (EEG), breathing rate, heart rate, muscle tension, skin conductivity of electricity, and skin temperature.
Hooked up with electrodes to electronic equipment, a patient's breath rate, perspiration, skin temperature, blood pressure, and heartbeat are measured. The results are displayed on a computer screen. Specific devices are used to measure each body change, including:
- Electromyogram (EMG) - to measure muscle tension
- Electrodermal activity (EDA) - to measure changes in perspiration rate
- Finger pulse measurements - to measure blood pressure and heartbeat
In addition, both the rhythm and volume of breathing are measured.
Once a patient's body signals are recorded with the electronic devices, a biofeedback technician may recommend both physical and mental exercises to gain control. Biofeedback technicians are trained and nationally certified.
Biofeedback is most helpful to reduce stress and promote relaxation. It is under investigation for conditions such as urinary incontinence, migraines, and other headaches.