ED-180 clinicians and visiting clinicians participate in biofeedback work with clients to help them better understand how their body reacts to stressful situations and how to control their body’s physiology to minimize distress. Biofeedback techniques are used with the ED-180 programs to help clients with meal rehabilitation, to compliment treatment for reactive emotions, and to educate clients about their ability to have control over their body’s physiology. Biofeedback training can have lifelong benefits by adding this coping skill to a clients “toolbox” for life.
Our newest Biolounge/Biofeedback treatment room compliments traditional medical and psychotherapeutic treatment methods by combining biofeedback training of the autonomic nervous system with mindfulness training, sound frequency healing, music therapy and guided imagery.
The Biolounge also integrates a practical and entertaining biofeedback program based on decades of scientific research on the psychophysiology of stress, emotions and interactions between the heart, the brain and the central nervous system. The program is a user-friendly interface that measures heart rate variability (HRV) with a finger pulse sensor, collecting and analyzing real-time data on the body’s reaction and performance. Additional components may be added to also measure parameters such as blood pressure and respiratory rate.
The Biolounge consists of a vibrational platform constructed with memory foam and integrated with an advanced audio/visual delivery system which utilizes precisely choreographed sound and music that is synchronized with low frequency sine tones and binaural beats. The combination of the music, vibrations and binaural beats induces a theta level meditative state in most people in about 15 minutes. During this process, the program teaches the client to use certain techniques in order to attain a more coherent state and consistent heart rhythm patterns. As they practice deep breathing and positive emotional thoughts, they are encouraged through bio-games and visualizations to generate improved heart rhythm patterns that facilitate an inner sense of calm peacefulness while simultaneously remaining alert and focused.
Additionally, optional meditation bands and training are available with this same messaging for client use when not in session. These affirmation exercises are positive, stimulating, and an extremely effective means of motivating and empowering the client to become aware and mindful to the present moment.
Biofeedback Training and the Science of the Autonomic Nervous System
By generating a coherent heart rhythm, the activity of the two branches of the autonomic nervous system (ANS), the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous system, can be trained to become synchronized. The sympathetic nervous system (SNS) is the activating branches of the ANS responsible for traits of focus, attention, anxiety, panic and the fight-or-flight response when feeling threatened. The parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) includes the calming branches of the ANS acting as a counterpart to the SNS and responsible for functions like relaxation, regulation of internal organs and tissues and related rest-and-digest effects.
Each Biolounge session generates a biophysiological report that provides statistical real-time data on the session performance for the clinician to review with the client. Individuals can see and learn how the two parts of the ANS are functioning and how the body’s systems react with increased balance and harmony to achieve states such as being “in the zone.” The data scores also allow the biolounge technician to advance the training exercises at the exact pace required for neural training development. Using these simple techniques increases a client’s baseline coherence and provides the client the ability to take charge of their emotional reactions, overall health, peak performance, personal relationships and quality of life.
– Individuals with anxiety and panic disorders.
– Individuals who always feel “stressed.”
– Individuals who have ADHD or impulse control disorders.
– Individuals who continuously experience a sense of internal agitation.
– Individuals who suffer from sleep difficulties.
– Expecting mothers with stress and mood disorders associated with pregnancy.
– Individuals who struggle with addiction or eating disorders.
– Athletes who seek performance enhancement.
– Individual’s who seek a compliment or an alternative to anxiety medication.
– Individuals who want to advance their training in mindfulness techniques.
Custom virtual exposure therapy sessions (created exclusively for ED-180 programs by biofeedback technician Lukas DeSarbo) can be arranged to teach clients how to manage their physiological and psychological state when exposed to specific stimuli that is triggering to the individual to assist in conquering fears and phobias.
The human stress response involves a complex signaling pathway among neurons and somatic cells. During stress, small hormone molecules such as Vasopressin increases reabsorption of water by the kidneys and induces vasoconstriction, the contraction of blood vessels, thereby raising blood pressure. Other stress molecules can play similar roles in altering the body’s natural balance and lead to physical and psychological problems.
Cortisol is often considered the primary stress hormone which can be toxic to the body. While cortisol’s main function is to restore balance to the body following exposure to stress, excessive and/or chronic stress levels can lead to elevate cortisol levels that have negative consequences on a person’s health and wellbeing. And while cortisol’s primary targets are metabolic, it can also affect cellular ion transport, the immune response, and even memory.
Effects of Excess Cortisol
High levels of stress, even over relatively short periods and in vastly different contexts, tend to produce similar results. The long-term, constant cortisol exposure associated with chronic stress produces further symptoms, including elevated baseline anxiety levels, hypertension, prolonged healing times, impaired cognition, decreased thyroid function, and accumulation of abdominal fat, which itself has implications for cardiovascular health.
Cortisol’s weakening effects on the immune response have been well documented. T-lymphocyte cells, an essential component of cell-mediated immunity, are blocked from proliferating by cortisol and can render individuals suffering from chronic stress highly vulnerable to infection.
A role for cortisol in memory has also been demonstrated. The hippocampus, the region of the brain where memories are processed and stored, contains many cortisol receptors. While normal cortisol levels have no adverse effects on the hippocampus, studies have shown that excess cortisol overwhelms the hippocampus and actually causes atrophy (a shrinking of this part of the brain) and significant memory loss. Fortunately, it appears that even for the chronically stressed, the damage incurred is usually reversible.
Finally, cortisol participates in an inhibitory feedback loop. Many in the scientific community speculate that chronic levels of high stress disrupt the delicate feedback balance, resulting in the failure of feedback inhibition to operate and the continued release of excess cortisol. In this case, not only is cortisol a byproduct of stress and anxiety, but it can further increase the levels of stress and anxiety levels experienced by the individual.
Three professional biofeedback organizations, the Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback (AAPB), Biofeedback Certification Institution of America (BCIA), and the International Society for Neurofeedback and Research (ISNR), arrived at a consensus definition of biofeedback in 2008: “Biofeedback is a process that enables an individual to learn how to change physiological activity for the purposes of improving health and performance. Precise instruments measure physiological activity such as brainwaves, heart function, breathing, muscle activity, and skin temperature. These instruments rapidly and accurately ‘feed back’ information to the user. The presentation of this information — often in conjunction with changes in thinking, emotions, and behavior — supports desired physiological changes. Over time, these changes can endure without continued use of an instrument.”