alpha biofeedback

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1. the provision of visual or auditory evidence to a person of the status of an autonomic (involuntary, vital) body function such as heart rate, blood pressure, or respiratory rate, as a method of teaching control of certain visceral responses previously thought to be exclusively dictated by the autonomic nervous system and therefore involuntary or unconscious.

Examples of the kinds of biological feedback that can be provided include information about changes in skin temperature, muscle tonicity, cardiovascular activities, blood pressure, and brain wave activities. With the aid of such sensitive electronic equipment as the electrocardiograph, electromyograph, and electroencephalograph, it is possible for the person to become consciously aware of the response being measured and to learn to control it. The feedback may be presented in the form of musical tones, lights, or direct visualization of scales or meters which indicate variance in the response.

In clinical biofeedback, the patient must practice the particular desired response many times under the supervision of professional persons who are skilled in the techniques of psychophysiology. An example in which biofeedback may be used clinically is in the treatment of raynaud's disease, in which the patient learns to consciously raise skin temperature in the extremities and thus reduce vasoconstriction.
2. in the nursing interventions classification, a nursing intervention defined as assisting the patient to modify a body function using feedback from instrumentation.
alpha biofeedback a procedure in which a person is presented with continuous information, usually auditory, on the state of his brain-wave pattern, with the intent of increasing the percentage of alpha activity; this is done with the expectation that it will be associated with a state of relaxation and peaceful wakefulness. Called also alpha feedback.
Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health, Seventh Edition. © 2003 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.
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