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Published Biofeedback Research in Medical Journals

21 May 2008

 Biofeedback in the Treatment of Phantom Limb Pain: A Time-Series Analysis

Harden, N.R., Houle, T.T., Green, S., Remble, T.A., Weinland, S.R., Colio, S., et al. (2005).

Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, 30(1), 83-93.


Researchers at the Center for Pain Studies located in the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago/Northwestern University Medical School performed a study of nine individuals with Phantom Limb Pain to assess the effects of biofeedback on pain. The participants received biofeedback treatments over the course of four to six weeks. The results of the study showed that eight of the nine patients experienced reductions in pain that varied from 25-66 percent.


Biofeedback in the Treatment of Headache and Other Childhood Pain

Hermann, C., & Blanchard, E.B. (2002).

Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, 27(2), 143-162.


Much research has been conducted on the subject of the effects of biofeedback on childhood pain, mainly headaches. Empirical data was studied and reassessed by researchers at both the Central Institute of Mental Health in Mannheim, Germany and the Center for Stress and Anxiety Disorders in Albany, New York. The findings have shown evidence that approximately two thirds of the children experienced a 50% pain decrease regarding headaches. The studies concerning biofeedback on related pain such as arthritis and recurrent abdominal pain have shown to be inconclusive due to a lack of research.


Combined Heart Rate Variability and Pulse Oximetry Biofeedback for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: Preliminary Findings

Giardino, N.D., Chan, L., & Borson, S. (2004).

Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, 29(2), 121-133.


A study done was conducted at the University of Washington Medical Center to test the likelihood of an intervention that included heart rate variability biofeedback and walking with pulse oximetry feedback to improve quality of life for patients suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Twenty participants were studied over the course of nine sessions using the Six Minute Walk Distance Test. Outcomes. The outcome showed a statistically and clinically significant improvement in walking distance and overall quality of life.


Biofeedback of R-Wave-to-Pulse Interval Normalizes Blood Pressure

Rau, H., Buhrer, M., & Weitkunat, R. (2003).

Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, 28(1), 37-46.


Doctors in Munich, Germany explored the way biofeedback treatment affected patients with problematic blood pressures. Twenty-two participants received three individual sessions over the course of two weeks. Twelve of the participants had high blood pressure while the other ten experienced low pressures. The findings concluded that both high and low pressures were modified in a significant and positive way after three sessions of biofeedback.


Biofeedback Treatment for Asthma

Lehrer, P.M., Vaschillo, E., Vaschillo, B., Lu, S., Scardella, A., Siddique, M., et al. (2004).

Chest Journal, 126(2), 352-361. 


Research was conducted at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School to evaluate the effectiveness of biofeedback as a complimentary treatment for asthma. Ninety-four adult volunteers with asthma participated. Results suggested that the participants required less steroid medications and averaged a decrease in one full level of asthma severity.


Comparison of the Efficacy of Electromyography, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, and Conservative Medical Interventions in the Treatment of Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain

Flor, H., Birbaumer, N. (1993).

Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 61, 653-658.


Researchers at the University of Tubingen in Germany compared three different types of treatments for chronic musculoskeletal pain to evaluate which would be most effective. The treatments compared were EMG biofeedback, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and conservative medical treatment. At the 24-month follow-up, only the biofeedback group maintained significant reductions in pain severity.


Biofeedback for Hypertension

Health and Public Policy Committee, American College of Physicians. (1985).

Annals of Internal Medicine, 102, 709-715.


The Health and Public Policy Committee has reported that biofeedback is a constructive tool to decrease the use of medication in patients with hypertension. The research is based on 10-20 thirty-minute sessions, which have been proven to lessen blood pressure levels.


Biofeedback-Assisted Relaxation in Migraine Headache: Relationship to Cerebral Blood Flow Velocity in the Middle Cerebral Artery

Vasudeva, S., Claggett, A.L., Tietjen, G.E., & McGrady, A.V. (2002).

Medical College of Ohio, Toledo.


The departments of Psychiatry and Neurology at the Medical College of Ohio tested 20 patients experiencing migraines with and without auras. After being treated with 20 sessions of biofeedback the patients experienced a reduction in pain, depression, and anxiety. Patients with and without aura experienced equally positive outcomes.


Evaluating the Efficacy of a Biofeedback Intervention to Reduce Children’s Anxiety

Wenck, L.S., Leu, P.W., D’Amato, R.C. (1996).

Journal of Clinical Psychology, 52, 469-473.


Over a six-week period, one hundred and fifty 7th and 8th grade children with high anxiety were assigned to 12 sessions of biofeedback to determine if the treatments would aid in a reduction of symptoms. Students received six sessions of thermal training and six sessions of EMG training. The research showed that there was a significant decline in both state and trait anxiety.

Lori Strolin, MSW, editor

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