Maybe you’ve been referred to pelvic floor PT and you see a note from your provider that says “biofeedback”; what is that?
The term biofeedback and pelvic floor therapy can be used incorrectly and interchangeably. In the spirit of Halloween just behind us, let’s break down some tricks (false) and treats (true) about biofeedback.
Trick: Pelvic floor physical therapy and biofeedback mean the same thing
Biofeedback is one modality, or treatment tool, used in pelvic floor physical therapy.
Biofeedback refers to you (the patient) getting feedback on an action that you’re doing. That feedback can be auditory, tactile, or visual.
Treat: Biofeedback can be used anywhere on the body.
You may have already had some biofeedback training and not known it.
For instance, have you ever done squats with a band around your knees? That band is there to both add resistance and give you feedback so your knees don’t cave in with squatting.
In the case of pelvic floor physical therapy, we most often use biofeedback for pelvic floor muscle training.
Trick: biofeedback provides an electric shock to make your muscles squeeze.
Electrical stimulation and biofeedback are NOT the same thing. E-stim delivers a small shock that helps your muscles contract but otherwise does not give you feedback
Surface EMG or internal sensor biofeedback on the other hand just takes a reading of the muscle fibers firing in your muscles. You won’t feel anything.
Trick: Biofeedback requires an internal sensor.
Maybe you’ve read up on biofeedback and learned about internal vaginal or rectal sensors.
We do use internal vaginal or rectal sensors. They work well and provide accurate readings of resting muscles tension.
But let’s say you can’t tolerate a vaginal or rectal muscle assessment? We can alternatively use surface EMG. These small stickers are placed externally on your pelvic floor and pick up on muscle recruitment.
Finally, we can provide feedback with a mirror so you can see what your muscles are doing or something like sitting on a towel so you can feel your muscle response.
Treat: Biofeedback actually requires you seeing, feeling, hearing what your muscles are doing.
If you’ve been in a situation where you’re using an internal sensor but didn’t actually see the visual biofeedback device or hear auditory cues, then you really haven’t done biofeedback.
The whole point is to form a better brain and body connection. You need to get feedback on what you’re doing.
Trick: Biofeedback can only be used for strengthening.
We can use biofeedback to work on better awareness for muscle relaxation, coordination, or strength.
Biofeedback and pelvic floor PT are NOT the same thing, but we can use biofeedback as a valuable tool in your rehab journey. Give us a call and
schedule a visit to learn more.