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2.1 Biofeedback Instruments
Recent advances in technology have produced extremely reliable instruments that measure and respond to very slight changes in the body and are capable of feeding back via lights, sounds, and meters, changes in temperature as small as one-tenth to one-hundredth of a degree, or changes just one or two beats per minute in heart rate, or very small blood pressure changes and minute changes in muscle tension. With practice under the care and guidance of a trained professional, and with the data provided by the sensitive equipment, the trainees can learn to alter their heart rates, or modulate their respiration, or increase the skin temperature in some parts of their body, and ultimately learn to control their physiological reactions in the treatment of their disorders.The most commonly used biofeedback instruments and their roles are described herein.Electromyogram (EMG): An Electromyogram allows the most common form of biofeedback measurement. An EMG uses electrodes or other types of sensors to measure muscle tension. By the EMG alerting you about muscle tension, you can learn to recognize the feeling early on and try to control the tension right away. EMG is mainly used as a relaxation technique to help ease tension in those muscles involved in backaches, headaches, neck pain and teeth-grinding
(bruxism). An EMG may be used to treat some illnesses in which the symptoms tend to worsen under stress, such as asthma and ulcers.
Electroencephalography (EEG): An EEG monitors the activity of brain waves linked to different mental states, such as wakefulness, relaxation, calmness, light sleep and deep sleep. By Feedback encephalography, the process of monitoring and displaying the ongoing EEG activity generated in the brain, you can learn to recognize and associate specific patterns of EEG activity with discernible mental and physiological states. With time, this can generate desired EEG activity and its mental and physiological connection. This is the least common of the methods, mostly due to the cost and availability of an EEG machine.By Feedback encephalography, the process of monitoring and displaying the ongoing EEG activity generated in the brain, you can learn to recognize and associate specific patterns of EEG activity with discernible mental and physiological states.Skin temperature Sensors attached to your fingers or feet measure your skin temperature.Because body temperature often drops when a person experiences stress,a low reading can prompt you to begin relaxation techniques.Temperature biofeedback can
help treat certain circulatory disorders, such as Raynaud's disease, or reduce the frequency of migraines. The physiological process behind the temperature drop associated with the stress response is quite simply vasoconstriction (blood vessels narrowed by the smooth musculature in their walls).