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Biofeedback

Biofeedback has several valuable uses for the athlete. The athlete gains awareness of their performance anxiety triggers and mental, physical responses to these stressors.

Through the practice of biofeedback and cognitive training the athlete substitutes more adaptive ways of responding to stressors that arise for them in the competitive environment.

Some of the benefits of biofeedback include:

  • Decrease performance stress.
  • Decrease anxiety.
  • Decrease mental distractions.
  • Increase ability to mentally relax before and during sport performances.
  • Increase ability to focus before and during sport performances.
  • Increase ability to recognize and reduce unnecessary muscle tension.
  • Increase focus on performance as sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system stay in balance.
  • Increase communication responses from brain to body.

Psychophysiological Stress Test (PST)

A Psychophysiological Stress Test is an assessment that provides information to a client regarding their ability to manage and recover from two cognitive stressor tasks and an emotional stressor task. In sport related activities this allows for the client to recognize the link between their thoughts and the perceived stress of competition, and how this inter-relatedness influences their reaction time, the ability to think clearly under pressure and emotional management. ┬áDuring the test the client is “hooked up” to equipment with electrodes and sensors. This gentle, non-intrusive method presents biological information to the client. The following psychophysiological responses are recorded and measured during the PST, skin temperature (peripheral blood flow); EMG (Electromyography); which measures muscle tension and relaxation, skin conductance, (measures sweat gland activity): breathing rate, pulse rate and heart rate variability (HRV).

After assessing the test results an eight week mental training plan is determined and developed from the outcome of the PST results.

Virtual Reality Therapy (VRT)

Susan utilizes Psious: Virtual Reality Therapy (VRT) paired with biofeedback to help relieve anxiety, and phobic disorders. VRT is a form of exposure therapy that immerses the client in a virtual environment using a head mounted display. The 3-D image creates a visual and auditory environment that psychologically exposes the client to the fear or phobia, (e.g. fear of flying, fear of test taking, fear of driving, fear of needles, fear of public speaking, claustrophobia, social or generalized anxiety, fear of animals etc.). The client is gradually exposed to the stressor in a controlled setting.

VRT with biofeedback creates client awareness of their physical reactions during the virtual exposure. The client is first taught diaphragmatic breathing as a self-management tool because the body responds to breath and how a client breathes can create a relaxed or anxious state. Once the client has learned correct breathing they are gradually exposed to the stressor in a controlled V.R. setting with the biofeedback monitor, then without the biofeedback monitor and eventually be comfortable in real life situations.