Biofeedback Helps Kids Chronic Headaches

August 13, 2012

What do high performance athletes, people with ADHD, migraines, chronic headaches, musicians, corporate executives and people with post-traumatic stress disorder all have in common?  They have all learned to improve their well-being and enhance their performance with the help of Biofeedback!  It has also been used as a treatment for many other conditions without any adverse effects.  This alternative and complementary medicine treatment uses specialized sensing and testing equipment that monitors involuntary biological responses, such as heart rate or muscular tension, to external stimulation. The patient learns to change his/her response, for example through taught relaxation techniques, and therefore learns to control physical responses with her/his own mind. It can be used as a drug free migraine treatment for example, by helping a patient identify triggers by gauging rising muscular tension.  The patient can then learn to take preventative measures to relax and withdraw from the trigger, warding off the onset of the migraine itself.

A recent retroactive study out of the University of Washington, in Seattle, found that 48% of pediatric patients with chronic headaches experienced positive results from biofeedback therapy.  The study, published on PubMed, reviewed data of 132 pediatric patients between the ages of 8 and 18, who participated in at least 2 biofeedback sessions between 2004 and 2008.  Researchers found that following treatment, headache frequency fell from 7 days to 4 days per week. In an interview with Reuters Health, a co-author of the study said that headache patients are taught visualization and relaxation techniques to lessen muscular tension and help manage autonomic functions such as skin temperature and heart rate.  They apply these techniques at the onset of a headache to prevent its progression or lessen its symptoms.  For pediatric patients, biofeedback might be a safer drug free migraine treatment than prescription medication.

If your child has a chronic headache condition or if you are looking to treat his/her migraines drug free, biofeedback could be a wonderful alternative therapy to include in your treatment plan.  Despite requiring time and effort to learn the techniques and develop a heightened awareness of one’s physical responses, it could go a long way in developing a positive attitude about taking responsibility and control over one’s health.  That is certainly a great life-long lesson for young and not so young alike!

Photo courtesy © Can Stock Photo Inc.

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