A biofeedback machine is a device that measures bodily functions in real time. Biofeedback is used to provide access to physiological responses over a period of time. This information can include things such as brain waves, blood pressure, heart range, sweat gland activity and muscle tension. The assumption is that analysis can be done to draw a relationship between the activity at a specific point and the involuntary responses of the body. This information can be used by the client to gain control of these autonomous functions over time.
Biofeedback machines are used with cognitive therapy as part of a program to control automatic functions of the body. For many people, the appeal of a biofeedback machine is the possibility of discovering hidden pressure points or stress reactions that they might not be aware of. All of these types of machines use sensors that are placed on the outside of the body and might not require assistance from a health professional.
The electromyograph is a popular biofeedback machine that uses electrodes to measure muscle action. This helped the patient recognize the sensation of muscle tension in a subjective way. Relaxation techniques are used to ease muscle tension that might cause neck pain, tension headaches and backaches.
A feedback thermometer is attached to the patient's fingers to measure skin temperature. A decrease in body temperate is related to stress and might be an indicator of the need to use relaxation techniques. Feedback thermometers also are being explored as possible diagnostic tools to evaluate the effectiveness of vasodilation and vasoconstriction medications.
An electrodemography biofeedback machine is used to measure sweat gland activity, which can be an indicator of anxiety. A polygraph machine is a well-known example of this type of biofeedback machine. By identifying the onset of anxiety, patients can become more self-aware and utilize relaxation techniques sooner.
In sleep therapy or sleep studies, brain waves are monitored with an electroencephalograph (EEG). These waves have a definite shape, depending on the patient's mental state. This type of machine is used to determine the level of brain activity at any point.
A common biofeedback machine used to treat sleep apnea is a pneumograph. This device measures abdominal and chest muscle movement during breathing to gauge the level of strain. The machine can identify poor breathing patterns and help the patient to change his or her breathing pattern.