Biofeedback and uses for ADHD

Biofeedback assists a person in learning how to deal with their body’s response to different stimuli. It works on relaxation and stress-reduction techniques. Sometimes guided imagery is used as a relaxation technique. There are different ways to measure the stimuli. There are different types of biofeedback. An electromyogram (EMG) measures muscle tension. Electrodes are utilized to measure the activity in the muscle.   Temperature biofeedback device monitors skin temperature and can be helpful in certain circulatory disorders.  Galvanic skin response (GSH) or electro dermal response (EDR) measures activity of the sweat glands by using a low electrical current on the skin and an electroencephalogram (EEG) measures brain wave activity. Biofeedback is utilized for a short duration, usually no more than 15 sessions.  Patients gradually take what is learned and apply these techniques to everyday life.  By the end of the sessions the patient should be able to use these techniques effectively without the machines (Ehrlich, 2009; Freeman,2009; Linden &  Mosely,2006)

Imagery utilizes the “deliberate focus of attention on specific images to bring about wanted changes in experience, behavior or physiologic response” (Freeman, 2009, p.253).  Imagery has been used to help people suffering from inflammation, injury recovery, pain, surgical recovery, cancer, stroke victims, grief, and nightmares. Biofeedback and imagery has had proven efficacy in treating anxiety, hypertension, attention-deficit, hyperactivity disorder, temporomandibular disorders, headaches in adults and urinary incontinence in men (Freeman, 2009).

Attention disorder/hyperactivity disorder is a common ailment among both adults and children. It is typically characterized by low attention spans, inattentiveness, along with hyperactivity or being impulsive.

Biofeedback methods have been used in both adult and child ADHD. However some sources state that reserach in this area is still in its  infancy. One of the common problems with any biofeedback method is that insurance plans may not reimburse the costs, thus detouring many people who are seeking alternative solutions to ADHD problems (Lofthouse, McBurnet, Arnold & Hurt, 2011). As with other uses of biofeedback the patient’s physical responses are monitored and then the patient is trained to change their responses. This occurs while utilizing methods such as electrodes and EEGS to monitor brain wave changes.


Ehrlich, S. (2009).   Biofeedback. Retrieved from

Freeman, L. (2009). Mosby’s complementary and alternative medicine: A research based approach (3rd ed.). St. Louis, MO: Mosby Elsevier.

Linden, W. &  Mosely, J.V. (2006).  The efficacy of behavorial treatments for hypertension. Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, 31, (1). doi: 10.1007/s10484-006-9004-8

Lofthouse, N., McBurnett, K., Arnold, L. E., & Hurt, E. (2011). Biofeedback and neurofeedback treatment for ADHD. Psychiatric Annals, 41(1), 42-42-48. doi:10.3928/00485713-20101221-07

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