Different Theories on How it Works
Various theories are offered to explain the ability of biofeedback to alter physiological processes and effect improvement in bodily functioning. Through recorded changes in light, sound, graphs or video, biofeedback instruments enhance ones ability to detect biological signals that represent internal physiological processes and then to alter those signals and processes in a beneficial way. Highly specific responses can be learned, such as relaxing individual muscles or elevating finger temperature. It is possible that changes in a specific response, such as finger temperature, activate more generalized bodily changes through biochemical and psychophysiological interconnections. Thus, if a deep level of relaxation is achieved through a successful biofeedback training session, this may be related to a shift in total autonomic nervous system activity affecting the state of the body on a much more global level. Significant change can also occur after completion of therapy, particularly if the patient continues to practice and use self-regulation strategies and skills at home.
Conditions it Works Best For
Biofeedback therapy has been shown to be effective in a wide array of medical conditions and stress-related disorders. Medical society clinical guidelines include biofeedback as a therapeutic option for the management of acute and chronic urinary incontinence, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome, nicotine dependence, cancer pain management and migraine headaches. In addition clinical research has shown the usefulness of biofeedback in the treatment of constipation, fecal incontinence, fibromyalgia, hypertension, incontinence after radical prostatectomy, stroke rehabilitation, temporomandibular joint disorder, tinnitus and urinary incontinence in older adults.
Current federally funded research projects are being conducted on the use of biofeedback for pain control, motor and muscle control in older adults, stress incontinence, prevention of back injuries, asthma, pain in sickle cell disease, temporomandibular disorder, chronic prostatitis, recurrent pain syndrome in children, fecal incontinence and constipation, and hypertension.
Although used primarily for medical and mental health conditions, neurofeedback is also applied in non-clinical settings to help individuals, such as athletes and artists, achieve peak levels of performance and enhance positive health and wellness.