Biofeedback is a type of therapy that teaches patients techniques for managing pain and stress.
What is biofeedback?
Biofeedback helps teach patients the skills to reduce their body’s stress response, balance their nervous system, increase relaxation, and gain better control of pain and physical symptoms.
Biofeedback is a safe, painless technique that helps train patients to become more aware of their body’s signals such as heart rate, breathing and muscle tension. These signals are typically activated when your body is faced with physical or emotional challenges as part of the body’s stress response system (or sympathetic nervous system activation).
How does biofeedback work?
Biofeedback involves connecting electronic sensors to areas such as the fingers, arms or back. These sensors monitor the body’s responses such as heart rate, muscle tension, temperature and skin moisture. This information is then sent to a computer screen, where the patient can see activity inside their body in real-time via graphs, sounds and visuals.
An instructor trained in biofeedback helps to explain information on the biofeedback screen and provide intervention to make changes in the body’s responses such as relaxing muscles or changing breathing patterns.
Once patients are aware of what their body is doing, it is easier to change these responses to reduce tension, anxiety and related physical symptoms. This understanding of the body allows them to quickly and effectively shift to deeper levels of calmness and relaxation throughout the day.
What is biofeedback used for?
Biofeedback is used worldwide for a variety of conditions including chronic pain, ADHD, sleep, anxiety, depression and chronic stress. It has been found especially useful in management of chronic headaches.
Does it work automatically?
While some people find immediate relaxation from biofeedback, others will need repetition to feel its full impact on the body. Frequent practice is essential to help the body and brain respond to the calming effect of biofeedback faster.
How do I get started?
A referral from your child’s doctor is required for biofeedback. Ask your child’s doctor to place an order for biofeedback through the Johns Hopkins All Children’s psychology program.
A scheduler from psychology will contact you to discuss your child’s needs and answer questions you may have. The Johns Hopkins All Children’s occupational therapy or physical therapy programs also may provide biofeedback as part of their services.