Biofeedback to help treat POTS

My sister called yesterday to ask what I knew about the POTS Treatment Center in Dallas.  I did some research on it last year and found that their techniques significantly help some people; they highlight, among other things, biofeedback and supplements.

I wasn’t sure I had or wanted to spend the time (2 weeks) or money (up to $10,000) to go, so when my friend S. sent us a check to use as we saw fit, I bought emWave, the computer program they use for biofeedback at the POTS treatment center.

Navy Seals (among others) use biofeedback, and the idea is to use breathing to regulate your body systems in a particular way, particularly to minimize stressful responses to stimuli (for Navy seals’ bodies, that would be coming under fire; for my body, that would be going to a standing position).  People with POTS tend to have their bodies stuck in SYMPATHETIC mode (like there’s an emergency) all the time (even though we may feel completely calm and relaxed).  Our bodies should generally be in PARASYMPATHETIC mode.  Using biofeedback can help the POTS patient settle his or her body into parasympathetic mode, and the idea at the POTS Treatment Center is that our POTSy bodies would relearn how to stay in parasympathetic mode and get unstuck, basically.

Emwave works as I attach a sensor to my ear lobe, and it measures my pulse and heart rate variability and shows my body’s responses in real time.  In the picture below, I was having trouble getting coherence (staying in parasympathetic mode) as shown by the many jaggedy lines that indicate low heart rate variability (HRV; time between heart beats as one breathes in and out).

biofeedpractice

These nice, smooth waves show my body settling into parasympathetic mode.

goodbiofeed

I enjoyed this website about the science behind measuring HRV (heart rate variability) as something athletes could use to enhance their training and performance.

I mentioned in my 100-day challenge to myself that I intend to do biofeedback 5 times per week.  It is challenging to take the time to do it, and I don’t always feel great doing it (believe it or not, nice, controlled breathing can be hard work!).  Also, I have been a bit discouraged to have temporary major reduction in my ability to hear, accompanied by loud ringing in my ears, after my sessions recently.  I’m hoping that just means more blood is flowing throughout my head than normal; I don’t want to ask a doctor because I’m embarrassed that they might think I’m crazy, delusional, hypochondriacal, etc.  However, I am planning to stick with it and told my sister I’d give her $5 each week I don’t complete.  Hey, either she’ll get rich or I may see some good improvement!

Next week, I’ll tell you a bit more about Emwave and biofeedback for POTS.

In the meantime, here are a few perspectives on the POTS Treatment Center:

From Jackie, a patient with POTS and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome

From Ilana Jacqueline, who has POTS and related issues

From testimonials according to the POTS Treatment Center

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2 thoughts on “Biofeedback to help treat POTS”

  1. It cracks me how how you continue to use the time-honored technique of motivating yourself with money, Kristi!! There’s nothing quite like that as the bottom line for seeing results. 🙂 So glad that you have been able to try biofeedback from the comfort of your own home (instead of committing to 2 weeks in Dallas!)! Today, I am praying that the Lord would give you relief from that hearing loss and tinnitus and that He would use biofeedback to give you relief from your symptoms (rather than just new symptoms). Also praying for understanding, wise, and helpful medical professionals who take you seriously, not pegging you as a crazy hypochondriac. 🙂 Praying for you!!!!

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