Biofeedback – what is it and how can it help me?

Biofeedback is used to give a person information about thier body. Physical therapists can use a biofeedback machine that specifically measures muscle activity. This is called electrical myography or EMG biofeedback. It is useful in retraining muscles following surgery, disuse or a period of muscular dysfunction.

Specifically, biofeedback can be used to record the activity of pelvic floor muscles. By learning to contract (or relax) these muscles properly, patients can help to resolve urinary stress and urge incontinence, fecal incontinence and pelvic pain syndromes. The goal during biofeedback training is to teach the patient which muscles they need to contract or relax in order to treat their problem. Specific training exercises are given as homework to practice in between biofeedback appointments. Occasionally, it is recommended to use a home biofeedback unit to optimize your treatment outcome.

The biofeedback session is conducted in a private room, and the patient can remain clothed. For most 30-60 minute treatments, a tampon-like sensor is self-inserted vaginally. Some patients prefer stick-on electrodes; these are small patches that are applied to the skin surface just outside of the anal opening. Additional stick-on electrodes are applied to the skin surface of the abdomen. This is because the most common mistake people make when trying to contract their pelvic floor muscles is using their abdominals instead.

After the sensors are in place, the therapist connects the sensors to a computer. The computer converts the electrical activity into a signal that is registered on the computer screen. An audible alarm can also be used for additional feedback for the patient. Progress can be charted form one treatment to the next.

Biofeedback can assist patients in learning to control their own body. It is a safe and painless treatment technique without side-effects. It may be used along with medications, dietary modifications and other forms of treatment for incontinence. It can be used before or after surgery. Please ask your physician or the physical therapists at Jointworx about using biofeedback.

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