When you think of physical therapy, you likely imagine techniques aimed at helping people perform certain voluntary acts, like safely standing up from a chair or regaining flexibility in the knee after joint replacement surgery. However, physical therapists also help people gain control over involuntary movements that may be causing them discomfort or making certain actions difficult. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at how physical therapists can use biofeedback therapy to help you regain control over involuntary movements.
What Is Biofeedback Therapy?
Biofeedback therapy is a treatment method designed to help a person regain control over involuntary processes in their body. By definition, the technique means to analyze and interpret feedback from a person’s body, so a physical therapist will conduct some tests to get a baseline understanding of certain processes so they can determine the best ways to improve them. Biofeedback can be used in different areas of the body to learn more about certain bodily systems. Here’s a look at some areas that can be analyzed with biofeedback programs:
- Electroencephalography – Electroencephalography, or EEG, is a biofeedback program designed to measure brain activity and neurological responses to stimulations.
- Respiratory Biofeedback – This involves the analysis of your breathing systems. Stress and other factors can affect our breathing in negative ways, and finding ways to control our breathing can help a person relax or have more control over certain respiratory issues, like asthma.
- Cardiovascular Biofeedback – This type of biofeedback helps us better understand your heart rate and cardiovascular system. We can work with patients to help them develop techniques to regulate their heartbeat so that it doesn’t exceed normal limits when faced with stress or anxiety.
- Muscular Contraction Biofeedback – For patients with chronic muscle spasms or facial twitching, muscular stimulation and biofeedback collection can help patients and providers understand what’s triggering muscle contractions and how to reduce to stop this involuntary contraction.
Biofeedback Collection And Correction
Our physical therapy clinic has a number of biofeedback technologies to help collect data and interpret the results. Our therapists have an expert-level understanding of the body, but they can’t view brain signals or muscular contraction as well as a computer, so they’ll rely on technology to collect the data before they interpret the results and use it to implement a treatment plan. Certain biofeedback technologies include:
- Electromyographs (EMG): Collects data on muscle tension.
- Electroencephalographs (EEG): Helps measure brainwaves and other electrical brain activities.
- Electrocardiograms (ECG): Provides information about the heart’s electrical activity and heart rate changes.
- Capnometers or capnographs: Detects the quality of a person’s breathing by measuring the carbon dioxide gas in exhaled air.
- Specialized treadmills can help measure gait speed and positioning.
- Wearable devices can collect and interpret data on heart rate, blood pressure and respiration rate.
Once a physical therapist has a better understanding of your biofeedback data, they’ll start developing a treatment plan based on your needs and which actions want to be controlled. For example, deep breathing exercises can help a person calm stress and anxiety and allow a person more control over their respiration rate, heart rate or blood pressure. Muscle relaxation techniques can help you regain control over involuntary muscle spasms or muscle contractions caused by stress that are contributing to headaches. Meditation or mental visualization techniques can help you better regulate negative thoughts and emotions that may be causing increased stress, anxiety and related heart or brain issues.
So if you are looking to gain control over certain involuntary actions or health systems like your blood pressure or respiratory rate, know that connecting with a physical therapist may be your best option. We can provide so much more than just post injury or surgery care, and we can help you find more control over involuntary actions and bodily systems. For more information, contact the team at OrthoRehab Specialists today.
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