How Chiropractors Utilize Biofeedback
An Uninspiring Meeting
I’ve met several chiropractors who allege that they can heal people suffering from such problems as pain and digestive issues. I’ve only ever had one personal appointment with a chiropractor, and that was for a health article I needed to write for my newspaper. From that experience, I learned that I have several vertebrae that are out of place and need ongoing adjustment to prevent further problems. Instead of charging me, the chiropractor asked if I wanted to trade advertising squares (in my paper) for adjustment appointments.
I left there feeling like his primary objective was financial gain. I never returned, and his office has since moved to another location. The point here is that I believe chiropractors, and other health practitioners, need to be motivated by more than money; they need to want people to be healthy.
Several years after that encounter, I met another chiropractor who made absolutely no claims about his abilities. Instead, he took me into a small, dimly-lit back room in his office that contained some wires, a peculiar-looking machine, two chairs, and a laptop computer. Once inside the room, the chiropractor looked at me and said, “With the computer program loaded onto this laptop, it’s possible to change the thought processes of patients. This enables us to potentially heal them of some ailments.”
Fascinated, I sat gingerly in one of the chairs. “Are you describing the process of biofeedback?” I asked.
He seemed surprised that I was familiar with this term, and he smiled. “Yes. But did you know biofeedback was first used in the 1940s and is not a new technique?” I shook my head, and he continued.
Essentially, biofeedback is a therapeutic technique whereby the patient is first put under stress. During that period, measurements are taken of such variables as the person’s heart rate, blood pressure, skin temperature, and brain activity. The premise is then to teach the patient to change his or her stress responses by controlling those variables.
Here is where the equipment comes into play. In short, the laptop actually contained a two-pronged program that is both a measuring device and a game. This game is not what you might think; instead of being used for entertainment, it’s controlled with brain waves and thus requires great concentration. The patient sits in the chair, is hooked to several monitors that feed into the computer, and wears a head cap of sorts that measures brain waves.
Then the game begins, and while there are several for the patient to choose, each involves the same basic concept: move the sailboat from point A to B, move the cat across the field, move the car down the road, and so on. One application even teaches the patient how to warm his or her hands with nothing more than brain waves.
Mastering this type of game application teaches the patient to control his or her stress responses. For instance, when work situations become stressful, the patient who is trained in biofeedback can voluntarily control breathing and heart rates so the body isn’t overwhelmed. This is much healthier – in most instances – than allowing the heart to beat wildly and cortisol to flood the body.
Biofeedback can reportedly be used to treat more than 150 health conditions. According to healthywomen.org, some of these include:
- Anxiety disorders
- Chronic pain
- High blood pressure
The chiropractor I spoke with was in the process of treating several school-aged children how to control ADHD impulses with biofeedback. He was also teaching another young patient how to be a better student by paying attention in class and studying to greater effectiveness. He admitted he’s had great success with the technique and looks forward to its continued use in his practice.
This encounter impressed me because the chiropractor actually discussed his treatment techniques rather than waiting for money to be handed over in exchange for the same services that involve back and neck adjustments. This chiropractor was knowledgeable, informative, and patient. With more health practitioners like him, it may just be possible for humans to one day manage disease responses with nothing more than their own brains.