Chronic pain, headaches, insomnia, anxiety and other stress related problems can interfere with a child's school performance, and/or social and family life. Biofeedback can give your child a drug-free, non-invasive way to improve his or her own health and performance.
Biofeedback is a pain-free way to get information about the activity inside your body. It can help you to become aware of early signs of pain, tension, anxiety, or other discomfort, and teach you how to change them.
The process uses a computer to find the smallest changes in muscle tension, hand temperature, sweat gland activity, heart rate, or respiration. It translates that information into changes in a series of lights, musical tones, and number values on a computer screen. You can use this information to run a computer game. Awareness of tension and relaxation reverse the stress response. This teaches you how to relax deeply and quickly, which is the main goal of biofeedback.
What problems can be helped with biofeedback?
Biofeedback has been used successfully with chronic pain, migraine and tension-type headaches, tics, insomnia, and anxiety. It is common for people who feel pain to hold their breath, breathe very fast and tighten their muscles. This can all make pain worse. Biofeedback measures how tight muscles are and how fast the patient breathes. A psychophysiologist uses this information to teach the patient how to change these reactions in order to feel better.
Your neurologist will evaluate your condition and refer you to biofeedback. The Neurology clinic will schedule weekly, hour-long biofeedback treatments.
Your family's first visit
Your first visit usually includes family members because they can help you practice your biofeedback therapy at home. You will meet with a biofeedback therapist who will:
- Listen to your family’s concerns.
- Explain how biofeedback can help.
- Show you how biofeedback works.
- Make a plan for treatment.
What to expect at regular visits
At each biofeedback visit, your neurologist will check on your progress and answer any questions or concerns you or your family may have about your treatment. The doctor will also ask how your medicines are working and adjust them if necessary. You will also spend some time practicing your biofeedback therapy. During your biofeedback session you can expect the following:
- Little pads are placed on the skin over your muscles. The pads have small wires that connect to a computer.
- The computer shows us what the body is doing. For instance, when the muscles tighten, we can see the change on the computer screen.
- You may also hear sounds from the computer when the muscles get tense or tighten up; the sound stops when you relax.
- As you grow more skilled at relaxing the muscles, you can even play games on the computer that are designed to help you learn how to relax and stay focused during difficult times.
How long does the biofeedback program take?
Each patient is different, so the length of time necessary for you to become free of symptoms varies according to two things: the kinds of symptoms you have and how often you practice at home. Daily practice of 20 minutes is necessary to experience the benefits of biofeedback. Most progress is made when appointments are scheduled once a week for the first three to five weeks. As positive changes are made, appointments can change to once every two weeks. Most people complete therapy within five to seven sessions.
How can I learn more about biofeedback?
Nanny Christie, PhD, LPC
Board Certified in Biofeedback, Senior Fellow
For more information contact us at 682-885-2500.