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Holistic-online.com Biofeedback

Biofeedback Infocenter

Practical Applications of Biofeedback and Clinical Trials

Once a person has learned to become deeply relaxed, it becomes possible for him to elicit the same state of mind that he uses in the biofeedback laboratory when he is at home or at work, He simply relaxes and tries to precisely recall how he felt when he was keeping the buzzer or the light continuously extinguished.

Or, if the problem is blood pressure, he remembers how he felt when the monitor cuff attached to his arm revealed that his pressure was reduced to normal.

As with all therapies, results vary, but they are often impressive. Several researchers have reported promising results with asthmatics, pointing out that spasms of the airway passages involve muscular contractions, and that these muscular actions are amenable to relaxation training.

Many people suffering from headaches and chronic pain resulting from injuries or operations have learned to greatly reduce their dependency on drugs and sometimes give them up completely.

In an experiment with six patients with cerebral palsy, biofeedback training enabled all six to relax sufficiently to improve both fine and gross motor coordination. Four of the six also improved their speech, and a subsequent study confirmed these findings.

Biofeedback training can also be used to gain active control over our muscles. In such cases, devices measuring very slight muscular activity are attached to the target area and the trick is for the person to do whatever he finds necessary to make the machine go on, instead of off. Many patients discover that they do have some slight control over areas which were thought to be helpless or paralyzed, and with continuing work, a surprising degree of control can be regained. Rehabilitation of stroke and accident victims is one obvious application, although still experimental. One researcher has said that he has been able to train people with fecal incontinence, and no apparent nervous control over their anal sphincter, to become continent again with just one to four hours of training.

When biofeedback is given along with yoga or meditative relaxation techniques, the results seem to be especially gratifying. For one thing, when someone is practicing meditation for relaxation while connected to a biofeedback machine, he can immediately perceive if he is going about it in the proper way.

A study reported in Lancet (July 19, 1975) evaluated the difference between six weeks' treatment by yoga relaxation methods with biofeedback with a "placebo" therapy consisting of general relaxation. 34 high blood pressure patients were used in the study. One group was given yoga relaxation techniques with biofeedback. The control group used just relaxation.

Both groups showed some reduction in blood pressure. But while the "general relaxation" group went down from an average of 169/101 to 160/96 mm., the biofeedback group showed an average reduction from 168/100 to 141/84 mm. The drop of 16 points in the blood pressure is extremely significant.

Various field studies and a number of controlled trials have shown that biofeedback therapy is a valid means of inducing relaxation, of treating certain functional disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, and tension headaches, and of speeding recovery following a stroke.

Next: Biofeedback for Healing Diseases/Conditions

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