Biofeedback is used by physical therapists to help patients regain movement in affected muscles. One of the popular physical therapy techniques, it helps patients recover from the ill effects of involuntary tension of muscles and pain related to it. It is commonly used to improve health and body performance. Extra equipment may or may not be used to support this type of therapy.
Body process that can be controlled using biofeedback physical therapy techniques are pain perception, heart rate, skin conductance, muscle tone and brainwaves. It is used to improve health especially in treating migraines and headaches.
At a biofeedback session, electrodes are connected to the skin. These electrodes then send signals wherein the breathing and heart rate, muscle activity, skin temperature, blood pressure and even sweating is monitored. This is very effective in detecting stress. Physical therapy techniques like relaxation exercises can be applied to bring down stress bring down activity level to normal.
Biofeedback can help physical therapy patients suffering from muscle tension and weakness. Physical therapy techniques, specifically biofeedback, can be used in treating headaches due to muscle tension, migraines, pelvic and TMJ-related pain, insomnia, fibromyalgia, whiplash, and other medical conditions like thoracic outlet syndrome.
Biofeedback is also among the physical therapy techniques used to treat muscular weakness in postural pain, incontinence, in the pelvic floor and in post-operative conditions. Sensor modalities can be used in aid of biofeedback therapy. These are electromyography, feedback thermometer, hemoencephalography, rheoencephalograph, capnometer, pneumograph, Electrocardiograph, photoplethysmograph, electroencephalograph and electrodermograph.
Electromyography is used for physical therapy techniques to treat low-back pain, temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) and pelvic pain.
Feedback thermometer is used to treat chronic pain, headache and stress.
Electrodermograph measures the electrical activity of the skin and is used in treating anxiety.
Biofeedback is used together with physical therapy techniques to treat rheumatoid arthritis. It teaches the patient to relax the affected joints to relieve the pain.
Relaxation exercises are common in biofeedback therapy. These are deep breathing, meditation, guided imagery and muscle relaxation. Physical therapy techniques are also used in tightening and relaxing different groups of muscles in this relaxation exercise.
Biofeedback therapy is used by a wide range of medical practitioners from dentists, doctors, nurses and physical therapists. Patients are taught how to use biofeedback to relax and avoid or cope with stressful events. The participation of the patient in any biofeedback activity is critical. Without the patient’s commitment, biofeedback will not work. The treatment plan, together with other physical therapy techniques will not succeed if the patient does not take full responsibility.