Biofeedback therapy

Biofeedback therapy can be used to help people control involuntary functions

Biofeedback uses electronic devices to help people control what are normally involuntary functions.

Biofeedback is grounded in mind-body medicine: the principal that we can affect the health of our body through the power of our minds.

Biofeedback can be used to treat a number of conditions which may result from diabetes including circulation, incontinence, and blood pressure.

How biofeedback works

Biofeedback can be used in a number of ways. The patient will wear electrodes which will record some form of biological activity, which might include muscle contractions, skin temperature, breathing, pulse rate or sweating.

The patient, being aware of how their body is reacting can learn to exert beneficial effects. This could involve becoming calmer having better control of muscles.

To date, most of the studies into the use of biofeedback in people with diabetes have been small and therefore it is hard to assess how useful the therapy is.

Hba1c reduction

A 2005 study by the Medical University of Ohio found that 3-month usage of biofeedback and relaxation therapy resulted in lower HbA1c levels than the control group. The study was small and included 30 participants who completed the therapy. [301]

Increasing blood flow

A study in 1984 of 20 participants, 10 of which had diabetes, underwent temperature biofeedback therapy and the results showed that skin temperature of the hand increased more in the group with diabetes.

The researchers noted that this may indicate that the therapy increases blood flow in extremities for people with diabetes. This could indicate benefits for people with conditions such as peripheral vascular disease but larger studies would be needed to confirm this. [302]

Healing of foot ulcers

A 2001 study showed that use of biofeedback therapy was associated with a greater success rate in the healing of foot ulcers. 14 out of 16 participants receiving biofeedback relaxation therapy experiencing healing of ulcers compared with seven out of 16 in the control group. [303]

Improving fecal continence

Fecal incontinence, an impaired ability to control bowel movements, is a possible long-term complication of people with diabetes.

Biofeedback is used to help re-train people to achieve improved control of their bowel. A study from 2009, of 108 patients with average age of 60 years old, showed that biofeedback had significant success in reducing the severity of fecal incontinence.

Whilst the study did not directly recruit people with diabetes, the way the therapy works may have potential for helping people with diabetes. [304]

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