How does biofeedback therapy work?

9NEWS at 6 a.m. 11/2/16.

KUSA - Editor’s Note: Every day this week, 9NEWS Mornings will take a look at alternative pain relief. 

The mind and body work together in powerful ways. There's a form of alternative therapy aimed at utilizing that connection.

The goal of biofeedback therapy is for patients to have better control of their health by seeing what's going on inside their bodies.

Here's how it works: doctors attach electrodes and sensors to your body. The electrodes and sensors send signals to your brain, which sends signals back to a monitor.

Dr. Lisa Corbin, medical director for the Center for Integrative Medicine with UCHealth, says biofeedback therapy is growing in popularity. Around one thousand patients try this type of therapy every year, according to Dr. Corbin.

"You can look at a monitor and say, well when I feel this way, my heart rate is doing this. The tension in my muscles is doing this," Dr. Corbin said.

Essentially, it shows how your body responds to everything so you can better understand things like, what stresses you out or why you're anxious.

"The simplest way to understand it, it's like speeded-up relaxation training," Dr. Corbin said.

Doctors say biofeedback can help with pain as well for several reasons:

  • Biofeedback allows you to learn when you should turn down the brainwaves that activate when you have a headache.
  • Biofeedback can change your brain activity.
  • Biofeedback pinpoints what could be stressing you out, which may relieve headaches.

There are different forms of therapy, such as neurofeedback, which focuses on the brain.

Dr. Ronald Brown with the Carolina HealthSpan Institute says neurofeedback is making a big difference in terms of pain relief and recovery from trauma.

"The best thing we can do for traumatic brain injury, PTSD, without question is neurofeedback," Dr. Brown explains.

Dr. Brown says this is becoming a popular form of alternative pain relief for young athletes experiencing head injuries, especially concussions.

"The beauty of what we're doing now, is that we have the capability of making the brain healthier," Dr. Brown said.

Over time, doctors say patients can learn how to change their brain activity, easing the effects of concussions.

Unlike some forms of alternative treatments that draw a skeptical eye from the medical community, Dr. Corbin says there really aren't drawbacks with biofeedback.

Even if you are not stressed or in pain, this tool can help you learn how your mind works with your body.

Copyright 2016 KUSA


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