Biofeedback is a training technique in which people are taught to improve their health and performance by using signals from their own bodies. Patients learn to regulate their physiological system by becoming aware of changes in their bodies that occur as the result of stress, anxiety, depression, or other emotional disruptions. Biofeedback helps them learn how to control these changes by showing them information about what’s happening in their bodies and practicing the skills to gain control over these changes, usually through the use of fun computer games. The goal is to be able to use these skills anywhere and through any challenge!
There are many types of biofeedback, and Dr. Odell uses two of them with her patients: temperature and heart rate variability.
Temperature (or thermal biofeedback): Patients learn how to increase blood flow to their hands with hand warming training. Hand warming has been shown to help improve migraine headaches and Raynaud’s Syndrome.
Heart Rate Variability (HRV): HRV is a measure of the alterations in heart rate and reflects the heart’s ability to respond to any demand placed on it by the body or the mind. When we are stressed, our HRV is impacted. Patients learn how to use breathing strategies to improve their HRV, which allows them to respond to stress more effectively and leads to increased feelings of wellness, focus, and motivation. HRV training has been shown to help in stress-related disorders (anxiety: generalized, performance, test; depression; tension headaches; panic disorder; among others).