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Biofeedback

Biofeedback is a technique that measures bodily functions such as heart rate, sweat gland activity and muscle contractions then feeds this information back to you to help increase awareness of involuntary body responses and learn to consciously self-regulate. This can help you gain a level of relaxed awareness amidst chronic or acute stress.

The UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine offers biofeedback services to assist in the management of various health problems. Our certified biofeedback practitioner, Teresa Corrigan can help you identify your own unique stress-response. By being aware of what happens internally you will learn new skills to shift unhealthy patterns and break old habits.

Conditions

Biofeedback can help patients maintain good health with a variety of health problems. It may be used alone or in combination with other complementary or conventional medicine treatments. This technique is often most effective when coupled with other adjunctive trainings, such as relaxation techniques or guided imagery.

Biofeedback can be used to help manage a number of conditions and health problems, such as:

  • Anxiety or stress
  • Breathing disorders
  • High blood pressure
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Preparing for surgery and medical procedures
  • Breathing disorders
  • Pain
  • Gastrointestinal disorders (digestive disorders)
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Urinary and fecal incontinence and chronic constipation (at UCSF Center for Pelvic Physiology)
  • Enhancing your meditation practice

Biofeedback is a non-invasive training and can be helpful for reducing symptoms. It may be an option for individuals who are pregnant or can't tolerate medications for their conditions.

Evaluation

If you are not sure whether biofeedback is an appropriate treatment for your condition, first schedule an integrative medicine consultation at the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine. They will review your medical history and help you decide which therapies best fit your needs. You may also schedule with a referral from your primary of specialist practitioner. Currently the Osher Center does not take contract with health insurance for biofeedback.

Training

During biofeedback, you are connected to sensors that measure and receive information about your psychophysiological responses and stress activation via heart rate changes, breathing patterns, exhaled CO2 levels, skin temperature, sweat gland activity and muscle tension. Feedback is displayed on a computer so that patients can observe the shifts that occur. In a series of sessions, your practitioner will observe these measurements and lead you through various exercises and relaxation techniques so you can learn how to make subtle changes in your body, such as relaxing certain muscles to reducing pain.

Each biofeedback session is individually tailored and may include relaxation techniques, guided imagery or other trainings. Usually 4-6 or more sessions are needed for learning new patterns and sustaining theed effects but this will may vary with each individual.

It is particularly beneficial in helping you:

  • Manage anxiety and stress
  • Prepare for surgery and medical procedures
  • Enhance your meditation practice
  • Enhance cardiac health and help lower blood pressure
  • Manage gastrointestinal diagnoses
  • Manage headaches and TMJ or TMD (problems with the jaw)
  • Ease pain and other musculoskeletal problems

Currently, the Osher Center does not offer neurofeedback for ADD/ADHD and other conditions. The UCSF Center for Pelvic Physiology provides specialized training for incontinence and pelvic floor disorders.

 

Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.

Related Information

UCSF Clinics & Centers

Osher Center for Integrative Medicine
1545 Divisadero St., Fourth Floor
San Francisco, CA 94115
Phone: (415) 353-7700
Fax: (415) 353-7358