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Biofeedback

Find a professional for Biofeedback in Chicago

Biofeedback is a form therapy which involves measuring a subject's bodily processes such as blood pressure, heart rate, skin temperature, galvanic skin response (sweating), and muscle tension and conveying the information to them in real-time in order to raise their awareness and conscious control of the related physiological activities.  By providing access to physiological information related to a disease process or symptom about which the user is generally unaware, biofeedback allows users to gain control over physical processes previously considered automatic.
   
Electromyogram (EMG) is the most common type of biofeedback measurement. An EMG uses electrodes or other types of sensors to measure muscle tension. When the EMG alerts the patient to muscle tension, it brings the awareness into the conscious mind.  They then can learn to recognize the feeling early on, and the associated triggers.  Once they learn to become aware of the muscle tension earlier they can begin to control the tension right away. EMG is mainly used as a relaxation technique to help ease tension in those muscles involved in backaches, headaches, neck pain and grinding your teeth (bruxism).
   
Another type of biofeedback is peripheral skin temperature measurement. Sensors attached to the patient's fingers or feet to measure changes in their skin temperature. Because body temperature often drops when a person experiences stress, a low reading can prompt you to begin relaxation techniques. Temperature biofeedback can help treat certain circulatory disorders, such as Raynaud's disease, or reduce the frequency of migraines by increasing the blood flow to the affected area.
   
In addition to measuring skin temperature changes, one could also measure the changes in sweating with Galvanic skin response training.  Sensors measure the activity of your sweat glands and the amount of perspiration on your skin alerting you to anxiety. Changes in sweat rates can be useful in treating emotional disorders such as phobias, anxiety and stuttering. Galvanic skin response meters are also now gaining popularity in hypnotherapy and psychotherapy practice where subtle physiological changes indicating emotional arousal can be more easily detected than by observation alone.

Author: Christopher Holder, ND Candidate '07


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