Biofeedback with The
L.I.F.E. System simply assists the body's own natural defense mechanisms by encouraging energetic
balance and harmony through computer interface.
The L.I.F.E. (Living Information Forms Energy) System offers biofeedback, bio-resonance and bioenergetics therapies through computer programs. Direct experience of this amazing modality will open up a new avenue for optimizing health that we all strive for in our lives. read more ...
- WHAT IS IT?
Biofeedback is a treatment technique in which people are trained
to improve their health by using signals from their own bodies.
Physical therapists use biofeedback to help stroke victims regain
movement in paralyzed muscles. Psychologists use it to help tense
and anxious clients learn to relax. Specialists in many different
fields use biofeedback to help their patients cope with pain.
Chances are you have used biofeedback yourself. You've used it
if you have ever taken your temperature or stepped on a scale.
The thermometer tells you whether you're running a fever, the
scale whether you've gained weight. Both devices "feed back" information about your body's condition. Armed with this information,
you can take steps you've learned to improve the condition. When
you're running a fever, you go to bed and drink plenty of fluids.
When you've gained weight, you resolve to eat less and sometimes
reply on complicated biofeedback machines in somewhat the same
way that you rely on your scale or thermometer. Their machines
can detect a person's internal bodily functions with far greater
sensitivity and precision than a person can alone. This information
may be valuable. Both patients and therapists use it to gauge
and direct the progress of treatment.
For patients, the biofeedback machine acts as a kind of sixth
sense which allows them to "see" or "hear"
activity inside their bodies. One commonly used type of machine,
for example, picks up electrical signals in the muscles. It translates
these signals into a form that patients can detect: It triggers
a flashing light bulb, perhaps, or activates a beeper every time
muscles grow more tense. If patipatients want to relax tense muscles,
they try to slow down the flashing or beeping.
Like a pitcher learning to throw a ball across a home plate, the
biofeedback trainee, in an attempt to improve a skill, monitors
the performance. When a pitch is off the mark, the ballplayer
adjusts the delivery so that he performs better the next time
he tries. When the light flashes or the beeper beeps too often,
the biofeedback trainee makes internal adjustments which alter
the signals. The biofeedback therapist acts as a coach, standing
at the sidelines setting goals and limits on what to expect and
giving hints on how to improve performance.
THE BEGINNINGS OF BIOFEEDBACK
The word "biofeedback" was coined in the late 1960s
to describe laboratory procedures then being used to train experimental
research subjects to alter brain activity, blood pressure, heart
rate, and other bodily functions that normally are not controlled
voluntarily. At the time, many scientists looked forward to the
day when biofeedback would give us a major degree of control over
our bodies. They thought, for instance, that we might be able
to "will" ourselves to be more creative by changing
the patterns of our brainwaves. Some believed that biofeedback
would one day make it possible to do away with drug treatments
that often cause uncomfortable side effects in patients with high
blood pressure and other serious conditions.
Today, most scientists agree that such high hopes were not realistic.
Research has demonstrated that biofeedback can help in the treatment
of many diseases and painful conditions. It has shown that we
have more control over so-called involuntary bodily function than
we once though possible. But it has also shown that nature limits
the extent of such control. Scientists are now trying to determine
just how much voluntary control we can exert.
HOW IS BIOFEEDBACK USED TODAY?
Clinical biofeedback techniques that grew out of the early laboratory
procedures are now widely used to treat an ever-lengthening list
of conditions. These include:
•Migraine headaches, tension headaches, and many other types
•Disorders of the digestive system
•High blood pressure and its opposite, low blood pressure
•Cardiac arrhythmias (abnormalities, sometimes dangerous,
in the rhythm of the heartbeat)
•Raynaud's disease (a circulatory disorder that causes uncomfortably
•Paralysis and other movement disorders
Specialists who provide biofeedback training range from psychiatrists
and psychologists to dentists, internists, nurses, and physical
therapists. Most rely on many other techniques in addition to
biofeedback. Patients usually are taught some form of relaxation
exercise. Some learn to identify the circumstances that trigger
their symptoms. They may also be taught how to avoid or cope with
these stressful events. Most are encouraged to change their habits,
and some are trained in special techniques for gaining such self-control.
Biofeedback is not magic. It cannot cure disease or by itself
make a person healthy. It is a tool, one of many available to
health care professionals. It reminds physicians that behavior,
thoughts, and feelings profoundly influence physical health. And
it helps both patients and doctors understand that they must work
together as a team.
Biofeedback places unusual demands on patients. They must examine
their day-to-day lives to learn if they may be contributing to
their own distress. They must recognize that they can, by their
own efforts, remedy some physical ailments. They must commit themselves
to practicing biofeedback or relaxation exercises every day. They
must change bad
habits, even ease up on some good ones. Most important, they must
accept much of the responsibility for maintaining their own health.
HOW DOES BIOFEEDBACK WORK?
Scientists cannot yet explain how biofeedback works. Most patients
who benefit from biofeedback are trained to relax and modify their
behavior. Most scientists believe that relaxation is a key component
in biofeedback treatment of many disorders, particularly those
brought on or made worse by stress.
Their reasoning is based on what is known about the effects of
stress on the body. In brief, the argument goes like this: Stressful
events produce strong emotions, which arouse certain physical
responses. Many of these responses are controlled by the sympathetic
nervous system, the network of nerve tissues that helps prepare
the body to meet emergencies by "flight or fight."
The typical pattern of response to emergencies probably emerged
during the time when all humans faced mostly physical threats.
Although the "threats" we now live with are seldom physical,
the body reacts as if they were: The pupils dilate to let in more
light. Sweat pours out, reducing the chance of skin cuts. Blood
vessels near the skin contract to reduce bleeding, while those
in the brain and muscles dilate to increase the oxygen supply.
The gastrointestinal tract, including the stomach and intestines,
slows down to reduce the energy expensed in digestion. The heart
beats faster, and blood pressure rises. Normally, people calm
down when a stressful event is over especially if they have done
something to cope with it. For instance, imagine your own reactions
if you're walking down a dark street and hear someone running
toward you. You get scared. Your body prepared you to ward off
an attacker or run fast enough to get away. When you do escape,
you gradually relax.
If you get angry at your boss, it's a different matter. Your body
may prepare to fight. But since you want to keep your job, you
try to ignore the angry feelings. Similarly, if on the way home
you get stalled in traffic, there's nothing you can do to get
away. These situations can literally may you sick. Your body has
prepared for action, but you cannot act. Individuals differ in
the way they respond to stress. In some, one function, such as
blood pressure, becomes more active while others remain normal.
Many experts believe that these individual physical responses
to stress can become habitual. When the body is repeatedly aroused,
one or more functions may become permanently overactive. Actual
damage to bodily tissues may eventually result. Biofeedback is
often aimed at changing habitual reactions to stress that can
cause pain or disease. Many clinicians believe that some of their
patients and clients have forgotten how to relax. Feedback of
physical responses such as skin temperature and muscle tension
provides information to help patients recognize a relaxed state.
The feedback signal may also act as a kind of reward for reducing
tension. It's like a piano teacher whose frown turns to a smile
when a young musician finally plays a tune properly.
The value of a feedback signal as information and reward may be
even greater in the treatment of patients with paralyzed or spastic
muscles. With these patients, biofeedback seems to be primarily
a form of skill training like learning to pitch a ball. Instead
of watching the ball, the patient watches the machine, which monitors
activity in the affected muscle. Stroke victims with paralyzed
arms and legs, for example, see that some part of their affected
limbs remains active. The signal from the biofeedback machine
proves it. This signal can guide the exercises that help patients
regain use of their limbs. Perhaps just as important, the feedback
convinces patients that the limbs are still alive. This reassurance
often encourages them to continue their efforts.
SHOULD YOU TRY BIOFEEDBACK?
If you think you might benefit from biofeedback training, you
should discuss it with your physician or other health care professional,
who may wish to conduct tests to make certain that your condition
does not require conventional medical treatment first. Responsible
biofeedback therapists will not treat you for headaches, hypertension,
or most disorders until you have had a thorough physical examination.
Some require neurological tests as well.
DO YOU FIND A BIOFEEDBACK THERAPIST?
First, ask your doctor or dentist, or contact the nearest community
health center, medical society, or State biofeedback society for
a referral. The psychology or psychiatry departments at nearby
universities may also be able to help you. Most experts recommend
that you consult only a health care professional a physician,
psychologist, psychiatrist, nurse, social worker, dentist, physical
therapist, for example who has been trained to use biofeedback.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Division of Communications and Education,
National Institute of Mental Health
Public Health Service - Alcohol, Drug Abuse
and Mental Health Administration
Rockville, MD 20857 USA