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HRV Biofeedback and Brain Injury

Publication date: 29 March 2013

This week I came across a research study of Heart Rate Variability biofeedback training for executive function in brain injury patients. The results suggest that individuals with severe chronic brain injury can learn to increase their heart rate coherence using biofeedback, and HRV correlates with emotional and cognitive regulation in this group, but further research is needed to evaluate HRV biofeedback as a therapy for behavioural problems.

Here's the link: study of HRV and brain injury

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is a major cause of disablity worldwide. Problems can range from mild to severe, and can last indefinitely, yet strangely, modern brain imaging commonly doesn't reveal any structural damage.

Long-lasting symptoms include emotional problems such as anxiety and depression, cognitive issues such as attention and memory impairments, and also seemingly physical symptoms such as fatigue and headaches.

Treatment options for chronic TBI cases are limited, at least in terms of mainstream medicine. It's good to see researchers are looking at new therapy options. I think biofeedback has potentially a lot to offer this group of sufferers.

This study of hemoencephalography (HEG) neurofeedback for TBI is one of the most promising I've seen.

HEG neurofeedback directly trains the part of the brain most responsible for executive function – which includes focus and attention, organisation and planning, and emotional self-regulation – namely the prefrontal cortex (PFC).

Heart Rate Variability is also known to correlate with prefrontal brain function, as this study shows: HRV and the prefrontal cortex

So HRV biofeedback makes a lot of sense, not just in TBI cases but for many other variants of prefrontal brain problems such as ADHD and depression. I look forward to hearing more from this team of researchers.

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