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Biofeedback Now Seen as 'Regular' Medicine
Date:2/4/2010

Computer-assisted treatment has joined mainstream for pain, anxiety and more,,

THURSDAY, Feb. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Biofeedback used to be thought of as alternative therapy -- something that might help but wasn't considered a fully legitimized medical treatment.

No more.

U.S. soldiers returning from war now use biofeedback to help deal with post-traumatic stress disorder. People suffering from chronic pain often find relief in biofeedback. Even athletes are using biofeedback to gain better control over their bodies.

"It used to be considered a very radical type of therapy, but what we have found is, as the years have gone by, it has become more and more mainstream," said John Arena, lead psychologist at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Augusta, Ga., a professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Health Behavior at the Medical College of Georgia and president of the Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback. "It now is considered part of regular medicine, actually."

With biofeedback, someone is strapped to sensors that provide real-time readings of internal bodily processes, such as muscle tension, blood pressure, heart rate, skin temperature and brain-wave activity. They then are taught strategies by which they can gain better control over those processes, which in turn can help them achieve certain health goals.

"It's like using computers to listen to your body and then displaying that information so you can see it and use your own volition to change it," explained Carmen Russoniello, an associate professor and director of a biofeedback center at East Carolina University. "We think of this as internal exercise, much like the physical exercise you perform at the gym. It's done in the head instead of the muscles."

Students at Iowa State University now have access to a Biofeedback Center to help them deal with stress, said Todd Pietruszka, a staff psychologist with
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