Biofeedback Training PC Products

By Lori Newell

  • Overview

    Biofeedback Training PC Products
    Biofeedback is a technique used in complementary medicine to help teach clients to control physiological functions and manage stress. Biofeedback machines can be used on their own allowing the user to respond to the signals produced by the machine. Biofeedback machines can also be hooked up to a computer and used with software to enhance the experience. Using a computer program also allows the user to save and track data. The article below outlines some of the options available.
  • Identification

    Biofeedback involves attaching non invasive electrodes or using a special device attached to the body. These electrodes or devices can monitor muscular tension, brain activity, sweat gland activity, skin temperature, blood pressure and heart rate. The information is then relayed back to the biofeedback machine and changes are recorded. An example would be a patient dealing with chronic back pain. First, the patient is taught techniques to help relax the muscles. Then to test the efficiency of the learned relaxation techniques, electrodes can be placed in various areas surrounding the midsection. The machine starts by recording the level of muscular tension and gives feedback to the patient in the from of sounds or lights. The patient then practices the relaxation techniques. If the muscles around the back begin to relax, the machine responds by reducing the number of beeps or lights. This lets the patient know the attempts are successful. On the other hand if the back muscles begin to tighten the machine beeps more or increases the activity of the lights. The same process can be used for helping a patient reduce his heart rate, breathing rate, blood pressure and other physiological functions. The goal is to teach the patient to learn to relax throughout the day and without needing the feedback from the machine.
  • Benefits

    Biofeedback can be a very useful part of a comprehensive treatment program for those with asthma, chronic pain, gastrointestinal problems, nausea from chemotherapy, incontinence, migraines, high blood pressure and other conditions where stress plays a role. Using a biofeedback machine alone can work, however most machines are limited in how much data they can store and the type of feedback available to the client. However, using a computer with Biofeedback software can allow the user to store data from all of their sessions and keep track of their progress. Since using the machine can be combined with watching a computer monitor, feedback can be provided in more pleasant forms, such as graphs or printouts. You can also purchase programs that show pleasant and relaxing scenery along with the feedback.

  • Types

    Biofeedback products that can be used with a PC can be designed either for professional use or home use. To start using your PC for biofeedback training you first need equipment to record physiological reactions. You can buy electrodes with leads that need to be attached to machine, which is then attached to the computer. This is typically the setup you will find with a professional biofeedback practitioner. For a more simplified home setup, you can also buy a special pad, ear clip, wrist band or computer mouse top monitor your body's activity. The picture here shows a typical home set up.
  • Features

    Biofeedback PC programs can be very simple and just show graphs or charts that let the user know how the body is responding. PC software can also get quite detailed and complex. With some models you can watch a relaxing scene on the computer monitor to help you relax your body and mind. There are also programs that take you through and adventure or game, like the one shown here. For example you may need to breathe deeply to open a door or travel down a passageway. You may have to relax a specific muscle to climb up a stairway. As you play the game your physiological reactions are shown on the screen.
  • Considerations

    If you are looking for a fun and simple way to learn manage stress and chronic pain, a home version of biofeedback PC equipment may be helpful. The programs can help you learn to calm your body and mind, which in turn can help to reduce muscular tension and reduce stress. However, if you are dealing with serious medical conditions, or if stress is affecting your ability to participate in everyday activities, you need to work with a professional biofeedback practitioner. Biofeedback PC equipment can be comprehensive, but it does not replace the training and knowledge of a professional that can tailor a program based on your individual needs.
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