What is biofeedback?

Biofeedback is a technique that helps children, adolescents and young adults learn how to voluntarily control their body’s response to stress and pain to improve their health

Biofeedback at Seattle Children’s

Using breathing exercises, guided imagery and other techniques, your child can regulate their muscle tension, heart rate, skin temperature and other body functions to decrease chronic pain and manage their response to stress. In some cases, your child may notice improvements in other symptoms, like sleeplessness, anxiety or lack of focus. We treat children, adolescents and young adults ages 8 to 21. Learn more.

Why choose Seattle Children’s Biofeedback program?

Our Biofeedback team works closely with you, your child and other members of the healthcare team to meet your child’s unique needs.

  • Your child and family get support

    At Seattle Children’s, your family has a team behind you, from diagnosis through treatment and follow-up. From our appointment schedulers to our pediatric nurses, our team is specially trained to work with children, adolescents, young adults and their families.

  • We are specially trained to care for the unique needs of children, adolescents and young adults

    Research shows that a person’s physical, emotional and social development during adolescence can affect their overall health throughout their life. Our team has specialized training in adolescent medicine, giving us a deeper understanding of the development that happens during adolescence and into early adulthood. This helps us create a care plan that uniquely addresses your child’s development now and in the future.

  • We’re advancing research for children, adolescents and young adults

    We research integrative medicine treatments that can help our patients, including using biofeedback to treat chronic pain, such as headaches or abdominal pain. We are exploring partnerships with clinics and programs to improve care for a broader range of conditions.

Conditions we treat

Our Biofeedback program works with children, adolescents and young adults who have conditions that include:

  • Abdominal pain

    Children, adolescents and young adults suffer from chronic abdominal issues due to a variety of conditions, including constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, rumination syndrome, nausea, functional dyspepsia (dis-PEP-see-uh) and gastroesophageal reflux.

    Symptoms can last from minutes to hours and can include difficulty eating and going to the bathroom. Some people learn over time what triggers can worsen their pain, such as specific foods or stressful events. Others have pain that is less predictable. Biofeedback training can help change how the body responds to pain and stress and decrease symptoms.

    Learn more about chronic abdominal pain (called functional abdominal pain) (PDF) (Spanish).

  • Musculoskeletal pain

    Muscle and joint pain can have many causes. Excessive, prolonged and unusual pain patterns may be caused by central sensitization syndromes. These conditions involve changes in how the brain and spinal cord process pain signals, often causing much more pain than normal.

  • Raynaud’s phenomenon

    Cold temperatures or strong emotions can cause the blood vessels of people with Raynaud’s phenomenon to narrow. This blocks blood flow to their body parts, including fingers, toes, ears and nose. The affected body parts turn white and blue, and become very painful. Attacks can last from minutes to hours.

  • Tension, migraine and postconcussive headaches

    Tension and migraine headaches are 2 common types of headaches in children, adolescents and young adults.

    • Tension headaches are caused by tight muscles in your shoulders, neck, head and jaw.
    • Migraine headaches are recurring, painful headaches along with other symptoms. When you have a migraine, you may also be dizzy; sick to your stomach; or sensitive to light, noise or smells. Often, the pain is throbbing and on both sides of your head. Different things set off migraines in different people. Doctors do not know exactly what causes migraines.
    • Postconcussive headaches may happen after a concussion and may feel like a tension or migraine headache. The headaches may also be a result of a neck injury that happens at the same time as the concussion.  

Services We Provide

  • Medical evaluation

    One of our Adolescent Medicine specialists will meet with you to review your medical records, past treatments and eligibility for biofeedback. After 2 to 4 therapy sessions, we may recommend a follow-up appointment with a medical provider. Near the end of the biofeedback sessions, you will have an exit visit so medical providers can evaluate how well the biofeedback sessions are working and provide additional recommendations.

    Biofeedback Clinic Treatment Plan (PDF) (Arabic) (Simplified Chinese) (Somali) (Spanish) (Vietnamese)

  • Biofeedback sessions

    We use sensors and a computer to track data about your muscle activity, heart rate, skin temperature, hand dryness and breathing rate. Certified biofeedback therapists will teach you relaxation and mental imagery techniques to help control your body’s response to stress and pain. Biofeedback treatment is usually 6 sessions scheduled every 1 to 2 weeks. You will learn techniques in the sessions and then practice them at home.

    Biofeedback Clinic Treatment Plan (PDF) (Arabic) (Simplified Chinese) (Somali) (Spanish) (Vietnamese)

Scheduling an Appointment With the Biofeedback Program

Contact Us

For more information, contact the Biofeedback program at 206-987-2028. If you would like an appointment, ask your child’s primary care provider for a referral.

Providers, see how to refer a patient.

Paying for Care

Learn about paying for care at Seattle Children’s including insurance coverage, billing and financial assistance.

Access Additional Resources

Get resources for patients and families, including information on food, housing, transportation, financial assistance, mental health and more.