autoimmune research, digital health, mind-body

Can We Measure the Mind Body Connection?

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Smoking, obesity and inactivity, together, account for 40% of the preventable premature deaths in the United States. New devices using biofeedback and neurofeedback may allow individuals to improve their positive behaviors which could decrease the number of premature deaths.

What is Biofeedback? 

Biofeedback is a technique that uses various devices to gain information from the human body. Feedback that is gathered is used to allow individuals to focus on how to better improve their health through mental activities that relax heart rate, reduce pain and control emotions. In essence, biofeedback uses the power of thought to control the body and improve health.

There are a number of doctors today that use biofeedback to improve patient health – physical therapists use biofeedback for stroke victims to help them regain movement in paralyzed muscles, psychologists use biofeedback to teach tense clients to relax, and other specialists use biofeedback to help patients cope with pain.

The leading sensor in biofeedback involves heart rate variability (HRV), which measures the variation in time between each heartbeat.  HRV is considered by scientists and physicians to be an important indicator of health and fitness.    Interestingly, our heart rate variability is greatest at a young age, showing signs of good health and vitality.  As we get older our resting heart rate becomes smaller, and if it gets too low it could be an implication of future or current health problems.

Heartmath has created an HRV sensor to monitor interactions between the heart and brain to control stress, emotions and even premature health problems.

What is Neurofeedback?

Neurofeedback, a branch of biofeedback, allows individuals to deal with brain based disorders without the use of medication.  The approach focuses on using feedback from the brain, to enlighten patients on what areas they need to mentally control in order to improve health.

Neurofeedback has been shown to reduce symptoms of several neurological and psychiatric disorders including learning and emotional disorders.

Neurofeedback is monitored by electroencephalography (EEG) which is a recording of the electrical signals of the brain.  EEG’s give information on thought, metabolic state, hormonal state, attention, feelings and emotions.  The brainwaves then communicate with our body through neurotransmitters to direct movement, sleep, thought, attention, etc.

Neurosky, Emotiv and Axio have created a headband to measure brain waves.  Freer Logic employs bodywave technology that uses body waves to improve health through neurofeedback.

Will biofeedback and neurofeedback go mainstream to help us measure the mind body connection?

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