This treatment modality is thought to promote wellness and optimize overall health. Biofeedback should be used with, not in place of, standard cancer therapy.
What does biofeedback involve?
Biofeedback involves training the mind to gain control over physiological reactions that are ordinarily involuntary and automatic through "feedback" information. Biofeedback uses electronic equipment to measure body functions such as respiratory rate, perspiration, blood pressure, heart rate and skin temperature. By developing voluntary control techniques to change those body functions, patients can reduce or eliminate symptoms. As patients attempt to control these functions, the electronic equipment allows them to monitor their efforts.
How is biofeedback thought to promote wellness and optimize overall health?
By learning to control various biological functions, biofeedback can help reduce stress and tension, lessen pain and promote relaxation. With proper training, one can reduce or eliminate symptoms and replace feelings of helplessness with a sense of control over his/her health. Biofeedback can teach individuals, whether afflicted with cancer or not, techniques for living a healthier life overall.
What has been proven about the benefit of biofeedback?
While biofeedback is not a curative therapy, research shows that it can help relieve a wide range of symptoms cancer patients experience, such as tension, stress, depression and pain. Biofeedback has also proven useful in retraining, reconditioning and strengthening muscles after surgery, restoring loss of control due to pain or nerve damage and overcoming urinary or bowel incontinence.
What is the potential risk or harm of biofeedback?
There is no known medical risk in using biofeedback, a noninvasive therapy. The small amount of electricity used to produce readings on the electronic equipment may affect a pacemaker, although no problems have been reported to date.
How much does biofeedback cost?
Fees from a visit with a biofeedback therapist can range from $35 to $85 per session depending on the therapist's experience and the patient's ability to pay. Many major medical policies will reimburse the biofeedback fee. The course of therapy is usually ten sessions. Trained biofeedback technicians will help patients interpret the signals picked up by the electronic equipment. After a few sessions, they often recommend physical and mental exercises to help patients gain the control they desire.
For additional information:
Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback
10200 W. 44th Avenue, Suite 304
Wheat Ridge, CO 80033-2840
Telephone: (800) 422-8436
Web site: www.aapb.org
Note: Information about therapies is intended to help you make informed choices, not to endorse any particular therapy. The information is courtesy of "Integrating Complementary and Alternative Therapies for Cancer Patients," a handbook written as an independent study project by Heather Morein. For more information, see the full text of the handbook (PDF), including all references and appendices.