- We don’t want to break skin. Most therapists (unless they’re physicians or nurses etc.) won’t be licensed to stick things into you anyway.
- We want to keep it quick (You don’t want to be in a situation where it takes forever to link you to the instruments)
- We want to keep it painless (Obvious enough, it’s sort of difficult to ask you to focus if I’m hurting you at the same time).
- We want whatever we are measuring and the feedback it to be close to instantaneous (For example, if you were to tighten up your shoulders you have to be able to see or hear it within a couple of milliseconds so you can link what you’ve just done with what you’re seeing/hearing).
With these concepts foremost in our minds, we can measure and feedback a host of different bodily functions. At Biofeedback Ireland we routinely measure and feedback:
- Your brain activity – brain wave activity. Biofeedback therapists may use an EEG (Electroencephalogram).
- Your skin temperature – vasodilation/vasoconstriction. Biofeedback therapists may use an electronic thermometer
- Your muscle activity – tension in your muscles. Biofeedback therapists may use SEMG (Surface Electromyogram)
- Your sweat response – how much you sweat. Biofeedback therapists may use EDA, GSR, BSR, or SCL (Electrodermal Activity, Galvanic Skin Response, Basal Skin Response, Skin Conductance Level [all different terms for largely the same thing]
- Your respiration – how fast you breathe and how much control you have. Biofeedback therapists may use a simple strain gauge stretched across your abdomen or chest
- Your heart activity – heart rate (or what most people call your pulse). How well your heart pumps including your blood pressure/blood volume. Biofeedback therapists may use PPG, ECG or EKG (Photoplytesmograph, Electrocardiogram).
There are other many other modalities used by therapists who want a closer look or to get finer detail about a process. For example, a respiratory technician or someone interested might use a caponometer to look at the amount of carbon dioxide you may be exhaling when you breathe.
Or for finer detail, I worked with a physiotherapist (PT) who routinely connected her patients to 16 SEMGs so she could accurately see how her patients were recruiting various muscles while she was helping them with rehabilitation after they sustained a Spinal Cord Injury (SCI).
I will go into more detail describing each modality in later blogs.