The Effect of Biofeedback as a Psychological Intervention in Multiple Sclerosis: A Randomized Controlled Study
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Background: Relaxation, mindfulness, social support, and education (RMSSE) have been shown to improve emotional symptoms, coping, and fatigue in multiple sclerosis (MS). Biofeedback was trialed as a psychological intervention, designed to improve self-control, in two groups of patients with MS. Both groups received RMSSE, and one group additionally received biofeedback. Methods: Forty people with relapsing-remitting MS were recruited from three sites in Sydney, Australia. The mean disability score (Expanded Disability Status Scale; EDSS) was 2.41 ± 1.46 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.46–3.36); the mean age in years was 45.9 ± 12.42 (95% CI, 41.92–49.87). Participants were randomly assigned to two active treatment groups (n = 20 per group). All participants received one 1-hour session per week for 3 weeks of RMSSE, while biofeedback equipment measured breathing rate and muscle tension. Members of one group used biofeedback screens to regulate physiological response. Results: Whole-group pre- and post-treatment scores demonstrated a reduction of 38% for anxiety and 39% for depression scores (P = .007 and P = .009, respectively). A post-treatment comparison failed to demonstrate any significant difference between the two active treatment groups in anxiety and depression scores. The biofeedback group showed significant pre- to post-treatment improvement or trends toward improvement in anxiety, fatigue, and stress (P = .05, .02, and .03, respectively). Comparison of pre-post treatment results between groups showed improvements for the biofeedback group in breathing rate and muscle tension (P = .06 and .09). Conclusions: For relapsing-remitting MS patients receiving biofeedback in addition to RMSSE, there was a demonstrable reduction in anxiety, fatigue, and stress. There was also a trend toward significant reduction of breathing rate and muscle tension in favor of biofeedback.
International Journal of MS Care
© 2015 Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers (CMSC). The attached file is reproduced here in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the journal's website for access to the definitive, published version.
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