What is biofeedback?
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History of biofeedback, description of methodology
The modern medicine has been successfully measuring the body’s electric activity for a long while now; with using ECG, EEG, EMG the heart, the cerebral cortex and the skeletal muscles are no more secrets for us. The biofeedback diagnostics is based on the same principles, but in this case not only the device is doing the work, but – we are also needed to the successful diagnosis and treatment.
During the biofeedback therapy, the key functions of our body can be measured with the help of the sensors attached to us. The goal of the biofeedback is to help better understand the functioning of our body. This information is useful, because with its help we are able to control certain functions of our body. By learning the right techniques, we also learn how our body reacts to certain stressors and stimuli and how we can consciously prevent them.
Recognizing the importance of biofeedback
The biofeedback technique could be developed, because the relationship between electric energy and biology that is between living organisms was recognized. Accordingly, every material has a unique electric frequency or vibration. The name of Dr. Reinhard Voll’s is outstanding among the scientists who confirmed the hypothesis that certain properties of the materials change when different intensity current is led through them. This method can be effective in supporting and strengthening the human body’s tissues. It is also important to mention McGuigan’s name who was the first to use a medical tool to obtain feedback about physiological reactions. McGuigan used a prototype of the modern biofeedback devices. During the procedure the monitoring person used an oscilloscope for the determination of the tension stretching his forearm muscles.
In 1958 Kamiya began to study the changes of brain, achieved by human subjects with changing EEG alpha rhythm. Kamiya developed a test in which a bell was rang on a regular basis and the test subject was asked to indicate if he thinks EEG alpha waves were emitted before the bell was ringing. Many people have learned this exercise, which resulted that they were able to regulate their brain’s alpha rhythm without the bell’s sound. The biofeedback, as therapeutic technique was used in numerous fields in the 1970’s, too: for example in case of psychological disorders, digestive system problems, vasoconstriction diseases, headaches due to muscle tension.
The feedback technique is able to treat headaches caused by muscle contraction. The clients were taught during EMG training how to reduce the tension in the frontal (forehead) muscle. These procedures were used to reduce the contraction of muscles and blood vessels; however, another technique was designed to increase muscle contraction.
In 1973 an innovative therapeutic method was developed which has been used in wide circle nowadays, too although with certain technical upgrading. Sargent, Green and Walters (1972) used a temperature-based biofeedback training to treat migraine. The clients were taught how to raise their fingers’ temperature while reducing the temperature on their forehead. Almost 75 percent of the subjects were able to reduce the intensity and length of the migraine attacks.
From the point of view of biofeedback another important recognition can be owed to Winifried Otto Schumann, who figured out that extremely low frequency vibrations can be measured everywhere on the Earth. This vibration is equal to the frequency of certain waves of the human brain, which occur on the border of dream and waking. The so-called Schumann resonances form a magnetic field, and with their proper regulation it is possible to control our overall health. The technology’s essence is about reinforcing the harmonic waves, which carry the healthy information and eliminate the disharmonic ones (which would cause different physiological problems).
Biofeedback against stress
The chronic stress has dramatic effect on our body. Stress may increase the blood pressure, the body temperature, or may change the brain functions. With the help of the biofeedback we can also influence those bodily functions - such as heart rate, blood pressure – which were previously thought to happen unintentionally. Since biofeedback increases body awareness. With the use of biofeedback the unconscious bodily functions appear on the screen, so the device provides feedback about the state of our body. The computer displays the result in graphical form with graphs, curves, diagrams, charts and other visualizations, but also with acoustic signals.