What if you could see the way your thoughts affect your physical body on a computer screen? With the help of biotherapy feedback, you can. This treatment protocol offers a powerful tool in the battle against chronic pain and addiction.Doctors discover more connections between your mental and physical well-being each day. This symbiosis opens doors to new therapies for everything from depression to high blood pressure. Here's how biotherapy feedback uses the mind-body connection to help patients and how you may benefit from this emerging treatment.
What Is Biotherapy Feedback?Biotherapy feedback refers to a mind-body therapy that uses visual or auditory feedback to help patients gain control over involuntary physical processes, such as their heart rate. The three common types of biofeedback therapy are:
- Thermal biofeedback, which measures skin temperature.
- Electromyography, which measures muscle tension.
- Neurofeedback, or EEG biofeedback, which focuses on electrical brain activity.
1. Patients with Stress-Related DisordersIf you have a stress-related disorder, you may experience both mental and physical symptoms. If you have a racing heart and sweaty palms, your physician may diagnose you with an anxiety disorder. Prolonged exposure to stress can rewire your brain to keep your blood pressure high, which can damage your internal organs. It can also exacerbate the symptoms of autoimmune diseases such as lupus.
Chronic stress raises levels of the hormone cortisol in your body. Too much cortisol decreases levels of interleukins, substances that help your body cleanse itself of toxins and boost immune function. Biotherapy feedback alerts patients to physical signs of increased cortisol production and helps them reduce it using the power of their minds.
2. Patients with Chronic PainMany chronic pain patients experience significant relief from biotherapy feedback. The extent of the improvement varies depending on the source of the pain. Patients with migraine disease that is triggered by stress, for example, respond more positively to this protocol than those with forms of the condition arising from physical trauma or defects.
Because biotherapy feedback influences involuntary physiological processes, it can alleviate agony resulting from low blood flow to an injured area or muscle spasms in particular regions. Patients with Reynaud's disease, where restricted blood flow causes numbness and cold in your digits, often find relief from the procedure.
3. Patients with Mental Health DisordersPeople with various mental health disorders benefit from biotherapy feedback. While their conditions cause distressing psychological symptoms, they also experience physical effects. One small pilot study performed on veterans with PTSD indicated this protocol reduced heart rate variations and improved cardiac cohesion.
Another survey of active-duty Marines suggested that 75% of the hundreds of soldiers studied decreased PTSD symptoms. Researchers continue to investigate the efficacy of biotherapy feedback for treating other mental health disorders.
How Does a Biotherapy Feedback Session Work?During a biotherapy feedback session, your doctor will attach sensors to various parts of your body. They may also apply sensors to your fingertips. These measure physiological processes, such as your heart rate and muscle activity, which are sent to a computer. The computer then responds with a visual or auditory clue that you're under stress. When you are, your heart rate and levels of perspiration increase, for example.
Your job then becomes making the alert stop by practicing relaxation techniques to decrease your pulse and breathing rate. You receive real-time feedback by watching the monitor. These sessions typically take place in a therapist's office. Your practitioner will suggest things you can do to relax during your session, such as breathing deeply into your belly. They may have you alternately tighten and loosen particular muscle groups, or lead you on a mindfulness meditation journey.
Once you master calming your physiological reactions to stress using biotherapy feedback, you can practice these techniques whenever you feel the need to do so. While treatments of this type can prove costly, once you develop proficiency, you can treat yourself for free.