Neurofeedback therapy, a specialized form of learning, allows individuals to voluntarily regulate their physiological indicators through real-time feedback. By leveraging biofeedback techniques, neurofeedback therapy aims to modify biomarkers associated with mental disorders and optimize brain functioning. This article provides an overview of neurofeedback therapy, including its principles, applications, benefits, contraindications, and integration into telemedicine sessions.
What is NeuroFeedback?
Neurofeedback is a unique learning process that enables individuals to consciously control various physiological indicators such as brainwave activity (measured by electroencephalogram or EEG), heart rate, muscle tension, and more. It involves providing real-time feedback, either visually on a computer monitor or through audio, displaying the current values of these physiological parameters. The feedback helps individuals learn and develop self-regulation skills, similar to learning any artistic skill. Neurofeedback therapy can be broadly classified into two categories: neurofeedback, which focuses on modifying EEG parameters, and biofeedback, which focuses on modifying autonomic indicators like heart rate and skin conductivity.
When is Neurofeedback Therapy Used?
Biofeedback therapy can be used in the treatment of a wide range of conditions and diseases, as well as for promoting overall healing and enhancing vitality. The following problems serve as indications for biofeedback or computer biofeedback therapy:
- Psycho-emotional disorders, including neurosis, depression, sleep disturbances, and panic attacks
- Concentration disorders
- Expressive writing disorder (difficulties in mastering writing skills, such as spelling words and expressing thoughts)
- Tics and obsessions
- Some forms of epilepsy
- Enuresis (urinary incontinence)
- Consequences of encephalopathy and neuro-infections
- Cerebrosthenic syndrome
- Arterial hypertension
- Bronchial asthma
- Certain skin diseases of neurogenic origin
- Irritable bowel syndrome
It is important to note that as technology in biofeedback continues to advance, the range of indications for its use is constantly expanding. In addition to its therapeutic applications, the effectiveness of the biofeedback method has been demonstrated in addressing psycho-emotional deviations. It provides the following benefits:
- Reduces emotional stress
- Eliminates negative emotional background
- Reduces anxiety levels
- Increases self-control and self-organization
- Enhances stress resistance
- Improves memory and attention
- Accelerates thought processes
- Boosts creativity
During a biofeedback session, a specialist analyzes data obtained from specialized sensors to determine the patient’s physiological status. The priority parameters for correction typically include electroencephalography (such as alpha and beta rhythms), pulse rate, respiration rate, muscle tension, and body temperature.
Once the physiological status is assessed, the biofeedback training session begins. In this session, the patient actively learns and masters the technique of self-regulating their targeted functional state that requires correction. They are taught how to influence and modify the specific physiological parameters identified earlier in order to achieve the desired outcome. This process involves active participation and learning on the part of the patient.
The biofeedback method offers several benefits:
- Effective stress and psycho-emotional overstrain compensation
Psycho-emotional biofeedback training is highly effective in mitigating the effects of stress and excessive psychological strain.
- Individualized approach
Biofeedback technology provides a personalized approach to each individual. It takes into account the specific needs and requirements of the patient, allowing for tailored sessions.
- Engaging and relaxed sessions
Biofeedback sessions utilize a bank of audio and video files to create an engaging and relaxed environment. This format enhances the effectiveness of the training while maintaining an enjoyable experience for the patient.
- Measurement of brain activity
Electroencephalography (EEG) is utilized to capture changes in the subject’s brain activity. This allows for real-time monitoring and assessment of the patient’s progress.
- Active patient participation
The biofeedback method promotes active and conscious involvement of the patient in the process of correcting their condition. This active participation helps individuals gain control over their physiological responses and self-regulate.
- Individualized duration and course
The duration of each biofeedback session and the overall course are determined on an individual basis, depending on the patient’s goals and objectives. On average, a single session lasts between 30 to 40 minutes, and a course typically consists of 10 to 40 sessions.
These benefits contribute to the effectiveness and flexibility of the biofeedback method in addressing various conditions and promoting overall well-being.
Contraindications for the Biofeedback Therapy
While neurofeedback therapy is generally safe and well-tolerated, there are certain contraindications to consider. Individuals with significant cognitive limitations or severe attention and memory impairments may not be suitable candidates for therapy. It is also contraindicated for those with serious mental illnesses or acute and chronic diseases. Patients with oncological diseases or somatic diseases in an acute stage or suffering from endocrine gland diseases may not be suitable candidates for neurofeedback therapy. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional or specialist to determine the suitability of therapy based on an individual’s specific health condition and medical history.
Clinical Applications of BFB-EEG Therapy
BFB-EEG therapy, focusing on modifying the rhythmic activity of the brain, has specific clinical applications. Biofeedback alpha training/therapy is designed to reduce anxiety and has shown effectiveness in treating psychosomatic, neurotic, depressive, and related disorders. Biofeedback theta training/therapy enhances creativity and has been beneficial in addressing addiction. Biofeedback beta therapy improves various neurological disorders, including epilepsy and post-stroke conditions. Biofeedback SMR therapy, targeting epilepsy, raises the seizure threshold and reduces convulsive seizures.
Neurofeedback therapy can be effectively integrated into telemedicine. Remote monitoring allows therapists to track brainwave activity in real time, while virtual sessions enable therapy to be conducted from the comfort of patients’ homes. Home-based training is facilitated through specialized EEG equipment or consumer-grade devices under therapist guidance. Data analysis and feedback can be provided remotely, and therapists can offer educational materials and ongoing support through virtual consultations.
In conclusion, neurofeedback therapy offers a non-invasive approach to self-regulation and optimal brain functioning. By providing real-time feedback and promoting self-regulation, it holds promise for treating mental disorders and enhancing overall well-being. The integration of neurofeedback into telemedicine expands access to this therapy, making it more convenient and flexible for individuals. Consultation with healthcare professionals is crucial to determine the suitability of neurofeedback therapy for individual needs and conditions.