How does biofeedback work?

Feedback devices have many medical uses. Many of us know biofeedback foremost from sports medicine. However, the use and the benefits of biological feedback systems goes far beyond the simple application as a TENS unit or to relax athletes.

Let us briefly examine how feedback therapy works. Actually, science still is not exactly sure what makes it work. We know that it does. We also know that it relaxes a person engaged in a session with feedback from a device. Deep relaxation can reduce numerous conditions related to stress. It is therefore not surprising that many biofeedback specialists are practicing in environments that are by themselves relaxing. For example, biofeedback in Boulder, Colorado is preferred by practitioners because of its high elevation and serene settings.

A feedback session starts with the therapist attaching electrodes to the skin of a patient. These sensors receive signals from the body and send them to the feedback device. They are displayed on a monitor or associated with a sound or image. Stress changes the signals from the device. Heart rate increases, muscle activity becomes more frequent, breathing accelerates and the patient may begin to sweat.

Under the guidance of a therapist, the patient learns how to use relaxation exercises to influence these changing signals from the body. Nowadays, computer programs are available that can guide a patient.

Relaxation exercises used in biofeedback therapy include:

  • voluntary control of the breathing,
  • tightening and relaxation of muscles,
  • concentration on an image to focus and promote relaxation,
  • meditation to reduce negativity.

The person using these relaxation techniques can observe the effects of his or her efforts on the monitor or the feedback device, audibly or on changing images.

Any positive result reinforces the patent’s efforts in a positive way. That’s the biofeedback.