Biofeedback Therapy

5 mins read

What is Biofeedback?

Biofeedback Therapy is a technique that trains people to control certain processes which are involuntary, such as muscle tension, heart and pulse rate, urinary incontinence and skin temperature. The therapy involves training of patients to control physiological processes such as hypertension, elevated heart rate and muscle related tension. Biofeedback therapy is effective in treating conditions that are bought in by stress. If people are stressed, the internal processes such as heartbeat and blood pressure can become irregular. This therapy teaches patients to relax and release their stress through relaxation and mental exercises. The therapy uses a number of instruments known as the Biofeedback instruments, which provide an instant view on a patient’s level of stress.

How does Biofeedback therapy help?

There are a number of ailments, which can be cured with the help of the Biofeedback Therapy.

Some of the major ones are listed below:

  • Urinary Incontinence
  • Children’s Anxiety
  • Reynaud’s disease
  • Chronic constipation
  • Bowel incontinence
  • Cognitive and behavioral therapies
  • Chronic rectal pain
  • Nocturnal bruxism
  • Headaches
  • Muscle tension
  • Migraine
  • Tinnitus
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Musculoskeletal disorders
  • Cervical whiplash
  • Low back
  • Laminectomy
  • Acute/chronic pain syndromes
  • Mycofascial pain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cancer pain
  • Pelvic pain
  • Musculoskeletal disorders
  • Cervical whiplash
  • Laminectomy
  • Shoulder Impingement
  • Upper trapezius myalgia
  • Upper extremity
  • Carpal tunnel
  • RSD (Reflex sympathetic dystrophy)
  • Cumulative trauma
  • Dyspareunia
  • Constipation

How is it done?
Biofeedback therapy is done with the help of the electrodes. During the sessions, the electrodes are attached to your skin.

  • Some of the therapists use finger sensors instead of electrodes. The sensors observe the signals on the monitor, displaying the heartbeat, breathing rate, skin temperature, blood pressure, sweating or the muscle activity with the help of sound, flash of light, or an image.
  • When under stress the output changes showing irregular changes in each of the above.
  • A biofeedback therapy is then done with the help of the feedback sessions at the therapist’s office, where the computer programs connect the biofeedback sensor to your own computer.
  • The therapy aims at teaching and practicing relaxation exercises that can help to control different body functions.
  • In the case of stress, the practitioner can use relaxation techniques to soothe down the tired brain.

Different methods used for Biofeedback Therapy:
The below practices are widely used while healing with biofeedback therapy:

  • Deep breathing
  • Progressive muscle relaxation
  • Guided imagery
  • Mindfulness meditation

Instruments and techniques used in Biofeedback Therapy:
A number of instruments and techniques have proved to be useful helpful while performing the therapy. Some of the major ones are listed below

  • Stress monitoring
  • Thermal feedback
  • Electro dermal feedback
  • Pneumograph feedback
  • Photoplethsymograph
  • Surface electromyography

Are there any studies showing the research efficacy?

There have been a number of researches conducted to review the efficacy of the therapy.

  • A joint committee by the Boards of Directors of the Association for Applied Psychophysiology (AAPB) and the International Society for Neuronal Regulation (ISNR) have conducted research on the utility and efficacy of the therapy. According to the research, the efficacy was distributed in five sets, starting from non-efficacious to efficacious.
  • The research conducted proves that the therapy shows highly credible results while treating assigned attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, constipation and headaches in adults, hypertension, motion sickness, Reynaud’s disease, chronic pain, tempro mandibular joint dysfunction and epilepsy.
  • Specific tests show credible results in the urinary incontinence.
  • The study shows possibly efficacious results in asthma, cerebral palsy, depression, erectile dysfunction, fibromyalgia, hand dystonia, COPD, coronary artery disease, cystic fibrosis, autism, Bell palsy, irritable bowel syndrome, respiratory failure, stroke, tinnitus, repetitive strain injury, PSTD and urinary incontinence in children
  • Probably efficacious results in the case of alcoholism and substance abuse, fecal incontinence in adults, arthritis, diabetes mellitus, fecal disorders in children, insomnia, pediatric headache, traumatic brain related injury, urinary incontinence in males, vulvar vestibulitis etc.

Precautions before taking the therapy:
There have been no side effects or contradictions known after the administration of the biofeedback therapy. Problems can occur with the conditions or ailments with which biofeedback therapy shows no administered results.


Culbert, Timothy P. “Biofeedback with Children and Adolescents.” In Innovative Psychotherapy Techniques in Child and Adolescent Therapy. , 2nd ed. ,Schaefer C. edited, New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1999.

Stoyva, Johann M. and Thomas H. Budzynski. “Biofeedback Methods in the Treatment of Anxiety and Stress Disorders.” In Principles and Practice of Stress Management. edited by P. M. Lehrer and R. L. Woolfolk. 2nd ed. New York: Guilford Press, 1993.

Schwartz, Mark S. and Associates. Biofeedback: A Practitioner’s Guide. New York: Guilford, 1987.

American Psychological Association. “HCFA will cover biofeedback for incontinence.” Monitor on Psychology 31, no.11 (December 2000).

Binder SA, Moll CB, Wolf SL.Evaluation of electromyographic biofeedback as an adjunct to therapeutic exercise in treating the lower extremities of hemiplegic patients.Phys Ther. 1981 Jun;61(6):886-93. PMID:7243887

McGrady A. The results of biofeedback in diabetes and essential hypertension. Cleve Clin J Med. 2010;77(3):S68-71.

Mullally WJ, Hall K, Goldstein R. Efficacy of biofeedback in the treatment of migraine and tension type headaches. Pain Physician. 2009;12(6):1005-11.

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