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By Steven Novella, MD, Assistant Professor of Neurology, Yale University School of Medicine

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Patient Education

For biofeedback, a type of mind-body medicine, electronic devices are used to provide information to patients about biologic functions (eg, heart rate, BP, muscle activity, skin temperature, skin resistance, brain surface electrical activity) and to teach patients to control these functions.

Uses for Biofeedback

With the help of a therapist or with training, patients can then use information from biofeedback to modify the function or to relax, thereby lessening the effects of conditions such as pain, stress, insomnia, and headaches.

Biofeedback is also used in patients with fecal or urinary incontinence, chronic abdominal pain, tinnitus, Raynaud syndrome, or attention or memory disorders (eg, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, traumatic brain injury).

Generally, biofeedback does not seem to be useful in asthma; a possible exception is heart rate variability biofeedback, which may help reduce asthma symptoms and drug use and improve pulmonary function.