Bio is commonly referred to as self or pertaining to self. Feedback pertains to components that have a result were these components are modified, corrected, or enhanced by the result. Biofeedback then is a method in which information about the self is used to modify, correct or strengthen activity within the self. In other words, biofeedback is used therapeutically that involves measuring a persons physiologic modus operandi such as heart rate, muscular contractions, then this measurements are “fed back” to the person in an understandable way so that he/ she can modify this process. In clinical settings the goal is to help individuals alter their physiology to obtain a more robust state of health.
Here is an example:
Overactivity of muscles can cause severe pain. Such as slouching over a laptop for hours researching and composing a post to ones blog. This is of course not the only cause and there are others stressors which can be psychological, physical, or both. A physician might prescribe a muscle relaxant, a physical therapist might use heat, massage or exercise. A biofeedback therapist on the other hand would begin by monitoring the muscles thought to be involved. Once these muscles are singled out, the biofeedback therapist would teach the person how to prevent the levels of muscular tension from elevating and when threshold levels are exceeded an expeditious reduction.
Applied biofeedback, a term coined by Olson (1995), contains ten components as further defined by Schwartz and Schwartz (1995, 2003) (1):
1. a group of therapeutic procedures that
2. uses electronic or electromechanical instruments,
3. to accurately measure, process, and feedback to persons and their therapists,
4. information with educational and reinforcing properties
5. about neuromuscular and autonomic activity, both normal and abnormal,
6. in the form of analog or binary, auditory, and or visual feedback signals.
7. Best achieved with competent biofeedback professional,
8. the objectives are to help persons develop greater awareness of, confidence in, and increase in voluntary control over their physiological processes that are otherwise outside awareness and/ or under less voluntary control,
9. by first controlling the external signal,
10 and then by using “cognitions, sensations, or other cues to prevent, stop, or reduce symptoms.” (Scwartz and Schwartz, 2003, p.35)
1 through 7 describe key procedural elements and 8 through 10 key goals of biofeedback.
Tomorrow: Biofeedback in Clinical Settings.
(1) Complemetary & Alternative Medicine, A Research Based Approach. (2004) Mosby, St. Louis, Missouri, p. 212