Simple actions such as raising a hand to wave hello or lifting a knee to take a step are controlled voluntarily by human beings. Other functions, such as body temperature, heart rate, and brain waves, are involuntarily monitored and controlled by the nervous system. Biofeedback instruments are used in therapy to gain a small level of control over these involuntary functions.
Biofeedback permits an individual to learn how to modify and alter physiological activity for improving health and performance. Accurate biofeedback instruments measure physiology related activities, such as heart rate, brainwaves, muscle activity, breathing, and skin temperature, and provide detailed and precise feedback about an individual’s body functions.
Biofeedback instruments are currently in the growth phase of the life cycle, with growth being led by the adoption of these instruments in stress management and the treatment of mental disorders. In earlier times, people were not as stressed and worried as they are today; thus, the demand for such devices was also low. But today, challenging corporate jobs and unhealthy lifestyles are overseeing an increase in stress disorders.
The stress level among the working class and students is high. Today’s stressful lifestyle and competitive corporate environment have seen a rise in the incidence of anxiety, depression, hypertension, and other stress-related disorders, underlining the need for people to improve their mental health.
Biofeedback instruments help people control and monitor their stress response by imbibing relaxation techniques, such as meditation and deep breathing exercises, to calm physiological arousal. They help people relax and foster palpable and significant improvement in the way patients feel. Thus, the biofeedback instrument market is expected to witness significant adoption in the upcoming years.
The rising incidence of stress-related mental disorders has seen hospitals and clinics procure more biofeedback instruments. One of the most crucial issues associated with stress is hypertension, which puts people at an increased risk of heart disease and stroke, the leading cause of death in several countries, particularly the U.S. Thus, the biofeedback instrument market is recording significant adoption with people seeking better alternatives to the treatment of stress-related disorders.
The American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association defined hypertension as blood pressure at or above 130/80 mmHg. In the year 2017, almost half a million deaths in the U.S. were caused due to extreme cases of hypertension. Around 108 million adults in the country are diagnosed with hypertension and take medication as treatment. Only 1 in every 4 adults diagnosed with hypertension has his/her condition under control.
Asthma is a chronic incendiary disorder of the respiratory tract. It causes recurring episodes of breathlessness, wheezing, coughing, and chest tightness. Biofeedback instruments use electronic monitoring devices that influence heart rate variability, enhancing lung function, and airway flow resistance that is common among asthma patients.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than 25 million Americans have asthma, i.e. 7.7% of adults and 8.4% of children. Since the early 1980s, the prevalence of asthma has been rising among all age, sex, and racial groups. Thus, biofeedback instruments are expected to observe an increase in adoption for the treatment of asthma.
Biofeedback instruments find application in clinics, hospitals, and even homes. Clinical biofeedback equipment or instruments are regulated by the U.S. FDA and labeled safe and effective for use. The demand for biofeedback instruments has been rising among clinic therapists, who use then for treating asthma and other breathing conditions, which will reflect considerable growth in the biofeedback instrument market.
While biofeedback instruments have long been in use in hospitals and clinic experts, off late, several devices and programs have been designed for home use. Some of these are interactive computer programs or mobile devices, and wearable devices exclusively meant for use at home.
As per the American Institute of Stress, 55% of Americans are stressed during the day — 20% higher than the world average of 35%. A 2016 survey from American Psychological Association revealed that on a scale of 1–10, women experience a stress level of 5.1 while men experienced a stress level of 4.4. A significant share of the population suffers from trauma due to acute stress, and consequently, people are opting for biofeedback instruments intended for use at home.
Certain biofeedback instruments measure physiological changes such as skin changes and heart rate with one or more sensors attached to the ears or fingers, which are plugged to a computer. They employ computer graphics to mitigate stress by making the body aware of changes is breath patterns.
Yet another form of biofeedback therapy includes headbands that control and monitor brain activities while meditating. The technology uses sound to track the stress level and sends out information from each session, which is stored in the computer for future records. The U.S. FDA has approved Resperate, a portable biofeedback device that foments and instills slow deep breathing, relieving stress and lowering blood pressure. Nonetheless, the FDA does not approve and regulate other biofeedback instruments for home use.
Biofeedback instruments are used for treating anxiety, bipolar disorder, and other mental illnesses ad disorders. The most prominent developments in the field are made in Europe and North America. The incidence of anxiety disorders globally varies in the range of 2–7% by country.
In the year 2017, approximately 284 million people experienced anxiety disorder, and of these, 179 million were females, while 105 million were males. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America states that nearly 40 million people in the U.S. experience an anxiety disorder, as per the WHO, one in three people suffer from anxiety globally.
The WHO recorded 264 million cases of anxiety disorder in the year 2015, which can be bifurcated into six regions.