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- Continue reading and we’ll walk you through everything you need to know
Neurofeedback and biofeedback are two ways of treating traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). These two terms are often used interchangeably. However, there are significant differences between them that are worth knowing about.
We can think of biofeedback as a form of electrical monitoring. The goal of this treatment option is to deliver feedback on body functions that aren’t actively operated by the individual.
Neurofeedback can be seen as a specific type of biofeedback. When it comes to biofeedback vs neurofeedback, it’s important to know how they compare. This way, you can fully understand what your treatment options are.
Continue reading and we’ll walk you through everything you need to know
What Is Biofeedback?
Biofeedback is a mind-body therapy that utilizes electrical signals. The purpose of this is to help someone gain a better awareness of their physiological responses. Examples could include sweat, heart rate, and blood pressure.
Being able to manipulate those responses at will can help treat a variety of psychological and medical issues, specifically TBIs and anxiety.
Examples of Biofeedback
When using biofeedback with breathing, the patient would wear sensor bands around their abdomen and chest. This is to monitor patterns and breathing rates.
With practice, the patient can learn to have more control over their breathing rates. This could be beneficial in a number of scenarios.
For heart rate, the patient places sensors either on their fingers or in their ears. Sensors can also be placed on the torso, chest, and wrist. The patient then trains to manipulate their heart rate.
Someone may want to do this to treat disorders ranging from depression to asthma.
What Is Neurofeedback?
Neurofeedback is a little different than biofeedback. It’s a similar process in which people learn to regulate their brainwaves over time.
You might also hear neurofeedback referred to as EEG biofeedback. This is to highlight the abnormal electrical patterns that are going on in the brain.
Neurofeedback helps the individual to modify their brainwaves in order to achieve a calming effect. The treatment is essentially an intervention to teach self-regulation of brain function.
How Neurofeedback Therapy Works
By now, you’re probably wondering, what is neurofeedback therapy? Normally, in a neurofeedback therapy session, the therapist puts little sensors all over the patient’s scalp. These sensors are connected to the brain.
The idea is to provide information to the patient about their brainwaves and the patient is rewarded for brainwave activity that is “healthier.”
For example, someone who has high anxiety may be exhibiting too many beta wavelengths. The goal of neurofeedback, in this case, would be to reshape those beta wavelengths to something that’s a little more healthy.
The Four Types of Brainwaves
There are four types of brainwaves that neurofeedback therapy can treat. Let’s go over them below.
Beta wavelengths are the fastest and have low amplitudes. These waves are associated with alertness, arousal, and also, engaged cognitive activity.
Alpha wavelengths are a little slower than beta wavelengths. These have a higher amplitude too.
Alpha wavelengths are associated with non-arousal states, mental coordination, and mind-body integration. Real-world examples of this include meditation and taking relaxing walks through nature.
Theta waves are even slower than alpha ones and have even higher amplitudes. They are associated with memory, learning, vivid imagery, subconscious information (dreams), and a heightened awareness of internal signals.
These brainwaves usually come up when the person is performing a repetitive or consistent task.
Delta waves are the last type of brainwaves that neurofeedback therapy can treat. These are the slowest and the highest waves.
Delta waves are associated with deep and dreamless sleep as well as healing. So when you’re in a very deep sleep and your body is in a restorative state, this is when delta waves are most prominent.
How Neurofeedback Is Conducted
A neurofeedback treatment session lasts for about thirty to sixty minutes. You can do it once a week or more often if you’d like. The session is conducted by a professional therapist who acts as a supportive and conductive guide.
Electrodes are applied to the patient’s scalp. This allows the therapist and patient to see the brainwave activity.
The little signals are picked up by the electrodes and are sent to a computer. The brainwave frequencies are then turned into a combination of images and sounds, which is feedback. Eventually, the brainwave activity is reframed to a more desirable performance.
Effective neurofeedback training typically takes between fifteen to thirty sessions.
Who Is a Good Candidate?
If you are seeking either a complement or an alternative to traditional therapeutic approaches, then you should consider neurofeedback. It’s also great for people who want to take more active roles in their therapy.
It’s also helpful to people who feel like they could benefit from a holistic approach or you have a tough time tolerating medication.
The Importance of Knowing About Biofeedback vs Neurofeedback
As we can see, when it comes to biofeedback vs neurofeedback, the two forms of therapy are closely related. However, even though all forms of neurofeedback are part of biofeedback, it’s not true for the other way around. Neurofeedback is just one useful type of biofeedback.
If you’re someone who feels that they could benefit from strengthening their mental skills, overcoming a past brain injury, or you just want to relieve your anxiety, then you should definitely consider this form of therapy.
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