Rehabilitation What Is Biofeedback Therapy? By Centers for Rehab Services, September 16, 2016 Biofeedback Therapy for Fecal and Urinary Incontinence Biofeedback therapy uses technology to train patients to control their body’s functions with their mind. This is done through the use of specialized electronic sensors that help you receive information about your body. You can use biofeedback therapy to control factors like heart rate, muscle tension, and even blood pressure. Biofeedback therapy helps you tweak certain muscle actions that can help prevent urinary incontinence and fecal incontinence. The Basics of Biofeedback: Treating Incontinence “Biofeedback therapy works by helping patients overcome obstacles to understanding how to control muscles that they cannot see and may have difficulty feeling,” said Susan George, PT, DPT, MS, OCS, WCS, director of women’s rehab and men’s health for UPMC Centers for Rehab Services. “Physical therapists use this educational tool as a way to teach muscle relaxation when stool expulsion is difficult or to teach muscle contraction when leakage of urine or stool is the problem. This visual and auditory feedback trains patients to control their own muscles while allowing the physical therapist to monitor their progress across a series of treatment sessions.” When a patient with weak muscles begins biofeedback therapy, he or she may have no understanding of how the pelvic floor muscles work. You will learn how to identify the pelvic floor muscles through the use of electrodes that change electrical impulses into a line of color on a computer screen and enable you to see your muscles contract and relax. By repeatedly squeezing muscles and creating this electronic line of color, you’ll watch your muscles activate. Your physical therapist can then use this newfound knowledge to train you to regain control of your bladder or rectum. Receiving feedback from your physical therapist and practicing pelvic muscle squeezes throughout the day will eventually lead to you no longer needing biofeedback therapy, as you’ll be able to independently manage your own continence. “Biofeedback therapy is a helpful tool to educate patients on how to activate unseen muscles critical to obtaining continence,” George said. “When performed successfully, patients can see the direct results on the monitor, which is helpful and encouraging in relearning a vital skill.” Why Biofeedback Therapy? Biofeedback therapy appeals to people for a variety of reasons. A physician might suggest biofeedback training as a component of physical therapy because it is noninvasive and can help the patient learn how to contract the pelvic floor muscles. It is an option for women who are pregnant. It is also an option when medications have not worked well, and overall, it helps people take control of their health. For more information about physical therapy services, visit UPMC Centers for Rehab Services. Want more from UPMC Centers for Rehab Services? Subscribe to our quarterly e-newsletter to hear from our therapists and patients regarding physical, occupational, and speech therapy.