Posted by: seattledizzygroup | December 31, 2015

Biofeedback Therapy

Biofeedback Therapy for Vestibular Disorders

by Lisa Eaton, DPT, OCS

of Cascade Dizziness & Balance PT

(Presented to Seattle Dizzy Group on 11/14/15)

This presentation gives an overview of Biofeedback Therapy including how it works and ways it can help.  Learn about this complementary therapy for managing the symptoms of a chronic vestibular (inner ear) or balance disorder including dizziness, migraine headache, nausea, and tinnitus.

How Biofeedback Therapy Works

The idea behind biofeedback is that by harnessing the power of the mind and increasing awareness of the body, the patient can gain more control over their health and improve their quality of life. Biofeedback Therapy uses monitoring of unconscious physiologic states to understand how the Autonomic Nervous System is functioning and then trains patients to have conscious control of those unconscious processes. Through Biofeedback Training, patients can work to optimize their nervous system function in order to facilitate improvement in vestibular symptoms. Biofeedback Therapy can help address and manage dizziness, migraine headaches, nausea, and tinnitus as well as anxiety.

Biofeedback Training Sessions

The goal of Biofeedback Training is to teach the patient how to change from a “Fight or Flight” anxious/stressed state to a “Rest and Digest” calm/relaxed state in order to reduce vestibular symptoms, restore balance, and promote optimal functioning of the nervous system.

During a Biofeedback Training Session, electrodes and/or finger sensors are attached to the patient’s skin which send signals to a computer screen that displays information and images about the patient’s body functions and stress responses.

To measure how the brain and nervous system manage stress, Biofeedback Training monitors:

  • Skin Conductance
  • Temperature
  • Muscle Activity
  • Respiratory Rate
  • Heart Rate Variability

When under stress, these body functions change (for example, temperature rises, muscles tighten, breathing quickens, heart rate speeds up, etc.). Sweating, jaw clenching and/or tight neck muscles as well as shallow, fast breathing and/or elevated heart rate are all common signs of stress. During a Biofeedback Training Session, the patient can see stress responses reflected on a computer screen as they happen and then get immediate feedback as they try to stop and reverse them.

A baseline assessment helps identify stress levels and triggers in order to set treatment goals. (For example, a possible goal might be an ideal breath rate of about 6-10 breaths per minute whereas most people average about 10-15 breaths or more per minute). Each patient is unique, so treatment is tailored to the individual’s specific needs.  Generally, patients receive about 3-6 training sessions.

Biofeedback Training can help the patient break negative habits (for example, poor posture or breathing patterns) and equip them to better tolerate and recover from stressors (for example, stimulus or activity that taxes the nervous system and increases vestibular symptoms).  The ultimate goal is for the patient to learn to integrate biofeedback techniques into their daily life as a way of better self-managing stress and/or anxiety and vestibular symptoms.

*To practice Biofeedback Training on your own, try the “Breathe 2 Relax” application. (Set the breathing pace to 5 seconds inhale and 5 seconds exhale). Consider using for relaxation before bed.

Ways Biofeedback Therapy Can Help

Biofeedback Therapy can be an effective treatment for vestibular disorders when used in conjunction with Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy (VRT).  It is especially beneficial for patients experiencing therapy plateaus or patients with complex vestibular issues which are impacting the nervous system.

Possible Benefits of Biofeedback Therapy:

  • Help with anxiety-dizziness cycle
  • Decrease migraines
  • Increase mobility (by integrating into VRT movement exercises)
  • Improve nervous system control to open pathways for compensation
  • Improve aspects of physical functioning that impair compensation (for example, sleep better)

More Information About Biofeedback:

Overview of Biofeedback: Uses & Benefits

Lisa Eaton, DPT, OCS

of Cascade Dizziness & Balance PT

Lisa has over 12 years of experience as a physical therapist. In 2001, she received a Doctorate in Physical Therapy (DPT) with highest honors from Creighton University. Lisa has always had a passion for treating vestibular and balance problems.In 2006, Lisa completed the highest certification for vestibular rehabilitation available for physical therapists (“Herdman certified”) at Emory University. Since that time, she has continued to advance her practice through continuing education and self-study. In 2007, Lisa received her Orthopedic Certified Specialist (OCS) designation from the American Physical Therapy Association. Her knowledge and experience with orthopedic problems is an important part of her balance and vestibular practice. Dizziness and balance problems can have musculoskeletal components that need to be addressed to treat the whole patient.

“The vestibular system and the brain are fascinating. I love teaching my patients how to turn these systems around and improve their movement and enjoyment of activities.” – Lisa Eaton


Presentation information is not meant to be taken as medical advice.

Presentations posted online may include discussion notes, links, images, and other information added by Seattle Dizzy Group.


© Copyright 2015, Seattle Dizzy Group. All rights reserved.


  1. Thank you for including me in your mailings. Carol Q.

  2. […] In 2015, we had guest speakers on the topics of Massage Therapy, Acupuncture and Acupressure Therapy, and Biofeedback Therapy. […]

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Seattle Dizzy Group

Providing support & community for people living with chronic dizziness & imbalance -- in Seattle & beyond

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