Biofeedback is a very unique process. It is not based on the conventional medical model, which is to diagnose and treat diseases and symptoms. Biofeedback works because it is based on a model of wholism. It is a way of helping the body to self-regulate. It is a technique or method that measures information in the body. This information then can be used to assist the body to better self-regulate, which in turn reduces stress. With reduced stress comes greater health. What is interesting is that according to WebMD, researchers do not know how or why biofeedback works. All that they do know is that it helps affect a number of conditions in the body in part because it reduces stress. It is hard for them to comprehend how it works because the models they are using only think in parts and pieces vs. the body as a whole.
The Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback (AAPB) defines biofeedback in the following way.
“Biofeedback is a process that enables an individual to learn how to change physiological activity for the purposes of improving health and performance. Precise instruments measure physiological activity such as brainwaves, heart function, breathing, muscle activity, and skin temperature. These instruments rapidly and accurately “feed back” information to the user. The presentation of this information — often in conjunction with changes in thinking, emotions, and behavior — supports desired physiological changes. Over time, these changes can endure without continued use of an instrument.”
With the advancements in technology there are new instruments that have been developed which allow us to scan the whole body and gather information about how it is functioning. This information can then be “feed back” to the person to assist their bodies in better self-regulation. I use two biofeedback devices in my practice: CyberScan and Metatron. These and similar technologies are ushering in a way in which we can use biofeedback to better our health.
What is biofeedback good for? Why does biofeedback work for so many things?
This is an interesting question. On the surface it looks like it has panacea like qualities to it because it works with so many things. Research shows success with a myriad of disorders such as but not limited to the following:
Learning Disabilities ADHD Addiction Anger Anxiety Autism/ ASD’s Autoimmune Disorders Brain Injury Cerebral Palsy Creativity Chronic Fatigue Cognitive Decline Depression Dissociative Disorders Epilepsy Fibromyalgia Headaches / Migraines Hypertension Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Peak Performance Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome Pain Parkinson’s Pre-Menstrual Syndrome (PMS) Sleep disorders Stroke Spasticity Tinnitus Trigeminal Neuralgia Tourette’s Syndrome
The real question then becomes why does it work with so many disorders? The nervous system is responsible for everything that we do. Cumulative trauma and stress over time cause the nervous system to deregulate. How that then presents for each person will be different. What biofeedback does is helps support healthy nervous system function. The brain is acting as the command center for the CNS or Central Nervous System. Anything that creates more balance in the nervous system will have far reaching effects. A bi-product of this balance is that symptoms tend to fall away as the body resumes its normal functioning. In effect what has happened is that the brain and body are now self-regulating.
Biofeedback or even Neurofeedback is not about treating specific disorders. It is about supporting a healthy functioning of both the nervous system and immune system. However, providing information that the immune system needs or by training the brain to function in a more healthful way, symptoms and/or disorders diminish as a bi-product of a healthier functioning organism. Most signs of ill health diminish when the body and brain self-regulate. By providing information that the body, brain, cells and immune system needs, both physiological and psychological complaints simply tend to go away. Let’s not forget this basic fact. The body is a self healing organism.