Bio is the Greek prefix meaning life, as in the word biological. Feedback is a term for receiving information on current behavior which can be used to influence or modify future behavior. Thus biofeedback is the process in which a patient is given information about specific body events through the use of instrumentation.
Biofeedback is an important, painless, non-drug therapy in the treatment of headaches and migraines. It is a method which teaches subjects to control bodily functions, such as heart rate, blood pressure, and muscle tension, which were once considered to be beyond voluntary control. However, research has shown that by monitoring these functions and feeding back information to the patient on an ongoing and immediate basis, voluntary control can, in fact, be taught. The information is feedback to the patient with visual and auditory instruments.
Through a process which includes conditioning, feedback instrumentation, behavior modification, and adaptation mechanisms, the individual can learn self-regulation of these bodily functions. Using these techniques of self-regulation, the patient can actually learn to change specific responses of the body, e.g. release of muscle tension and spasm, lowering of blood pressure, and diminishing and even stopping headache pain.
Biofeedback is a formal training program which can, with daily practice, help to alleviate symptoms. The ultimate goal is to integrate these techniques into the course of daily living. This form of training includes the individual as an active participant in his or her own health care.