Linking Biofeedback and an EMR or Patient Portal

Posted on July 31, 2006 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Today I ran across what I considered a very new term for me: Biofeedback Here’s a definition and description of biofeedback I found:

What is Biofeedback?

Biofeedback is a learning process in which people are taught to improve their health and performance by observing signals generated by their own bodies. It is scientifically based and validated by studies and clinical practice. It is a highly effective way to control stress, realize true relaxation and help achieve important personal goals.

Fear, over-eating, smoking, anxiety and other problems are actually linked to, or aggravated by, stress. For some, stress is a stimulant to effective action, but for others its a barrier to self-fulfillment. The secret is knowing your reaction to stress, and using this new awareness as a springboard to a life in control. A life where you can release the powers of the mind for greater achievement and better health.

Biofeedback is the widely-used and medically-accepted technique for teaching us to control stress, achieve relaxation, and channel talents and energies toward realizing our full potential. Our home biofeedback devices make you aware of your unconscious involuntary physical reactions to stress feeding back subtle changes in stress levels. Youll be able to hear or see changes in your stress level!

Even more interesting was a list of biofeedback devices that you can purchase:

Skin resistance biofeedback (GSR Galvanic Skin Response) is a measure of how relaxed you are, which changes based on your overall mood and emotions.

A sensor is placed on your hand, you hear a tone that increases in pitch when your emotions or mood becomes more tense, and decreases when you are relaxing.

Muscle tension biofeedback measures how tight a particular muscle is. Relaxing your forehead can help reduce headaches, release jaw tension, and upper shoulder tightness. You wear a pair of headphones with a band containing sensors that goes across your forehead. When the muscles in your forehead let go, then the tone that you are listening to decreases.

Brainwave biofeedback measures the quality of your brainwaves. Improving the quality of your brainwaves helps people with learning and concentration, reduce mental clutter, reach deeper states of relaxation faster, and to improve the quality of sleep.

Two electrodes are placed on your scalp. Using a computer interface, you can see your brainwaves on the screen, which appear as wavy lines, much like ocean waves. When the waves are close together, it means that you are alert. When they are further apart (slower), that means you are relaxing into deeper states of alpha, or creative visualization (theta).

When you see irregular waves, the quality of that particular brainwave state is not very good. When the waves become smooth and regular, you are able to sustain focus within that particular brainwave state.

Heart Rate Variability biofeedback measures how your heart responds to emotional, mental, and physical stresses, and its ability to bounce back to a relaxed and better functioning state. It helps for general relaxation, and cardio vascular distress.

You wear a finger sensor, and a computer interface allows you to see your heart rhythms on the screen, which appear like ocean waves, or lines that move up and down. Irregular, ever-changing waves mean that things easily upset you, whereas smooth waves mean that you are able to stay calm in stressful situations.

Skin temperature biofeedback measures the amount of blood flow beneath the skin. The warmer the temperature, the greater the degree of relaxation in that area which improves circulation for healing.

I find the science of it all quite interesting. I’m interested in hearing people’s opinions on biofeedback. How is it accepted in the medical community? Would it be beneficial to have it integrated with an EMR system. Then, you could track a person’s change in stress level for example. I think this could be espescially intrigueing in a counseling center setting. Integrated with an EMR, I think if the biofeedback works you could get some really interesting data on how a client with stress in their life improves their stress level over time. Could be very interesting.