Research on Differences between Childrens and Adults Responses to Biofeedback

In general children are more open and responsive to biofeedback than adults. Children are usually fascinated with the equipment, and motivation and curiosity are high. Research on nonclinical populations response to biofeedback indicate that children between the ages of 8 and 12 are able to achieve greater changes in physiological responses using biofeedback than any other age group. For clinical groups biofeedback may be a good alternative to medication if the medical treatment has potentially negative short- and long-term consequences for the developing child. Research evaluating the effectiveness of biofeedback with children who have headaches indicates that more children improve and to a greater degree than do adults.

Besides play therapy, behavior modification, and some of the newly developed cognitive strategies, there are only a few individual therapy techniques to be used directly with children. Most interventions involve changing or teaching parenting skills, or manipulating the child's environment. Biofeedback offers the therapist a mode to teach the child concepts of self-control, stress management, and an opportunity to begin talking about feelings and stressors and how these may affect physical health. Most children have an external health locus of control in which powerful others have responsibility for their health. Biofeedback may help the child gain an internalized view that acknowledges one's own role in maintaining good health.

Although children may be more responsive in the therapy setting, they may have greater difficulty than adults in remembering to practice outside of the therapeutic settings and to record changes in their symptoms. Often a parent is recruited to gently remind the child to practice and record symptoms.

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