Winning the Gold in weight lifting-Using biofeedback, imagery and cognitive change

Watch the in-depth interview with Jo Aita in which she describes her experience of integrating imagery techniques and biofeedback to enhance performance on May 26, 2017.

“It was the best meet of my life.” -Jo Aita

Setting a personal best and winning the Gold medal is a remarkable feat. Jo Aita, age 46 and weighing 58 kg, set the Masters World Records and Masters Games Records in Snatch, Clean & Jerk and Total Olympic weight lifting at the World Masters Games in Auckland, New Zealand, April 26th, 2017. She lifted 71 kg in the Snatch and 86 kg in the Clean and Jerk Olympic lifts in the 45-49-year-old age group (see video in figure 1). What makes this more remarkable is that her combined lifts were 3 kilograms more than her life-time best in previous competition. She refuted the conventional wisdom that weight lifters peak in their mid to late twenties. There is hope for improvement as aging may not mean we have to decline.

There are many factors–and many more which we do not know–which contribute to this achievement such as genetics, diligent training and superb coaching at the Max’ Gym in Oakland as a member of Team Juggernauts. In the last three years, Jo Aita also incorporated biofeedback and visualization training to help optimize her performance. This report summarizes how breathing and electromyography feedback combined with imagery may have contributed to achieving her personal best[3]. As Jo Aita stated, “I recommend this to everyone and hope that you can work with athletes in my gym.”

Components of the 30 sessions of biofeedback, internal language and visualization training program

The training was started in September 2014 to reduce anxiety and improve performance. The components embedded in the training are listed sequentially; however, training did not occur sequentially. They were dynamically interwoven throughout the many sessions and augmented with homework practices, as well as storytelling of other people achieving success using similar approaches. The major components included:

1. Mastering effortless slow diaphragmatic breathing in which the abdomen expanded during inhalations and constricted during exhalation. The respiration feedback and training was recorded with BioGraph Infinity respiration sensors and recorded from the abdomen and upper chest. Her homework included monitoring situations where she held her breath and then anticipate breath holding by continuing to breathe. She also practiced slower breathing with heart rate variability feedback from a Stress Eraser. Practicing these allowed her to become centered and regenerate more quickly. As she stated, “It helped me during the day when I am anxious to calm down.” Throughout the training, the focus was to use breathing to rapidly regenerate after exertion especially after training.

2. Learning to relax her shoulder muscles with electromyography (EMG) feedback to regenerate and learn awareness of minimal trapezius muscle tension. She could use this awareness to identify her emotional reactivity (Peper, Booiman, Lin, & Shaffer, 2014). Often emotional reactivity increases muscle tension. She learned to relax here muscles quickly after muscle contractions to allow regeneration

see the full article and videos on “the peper perspective

Ex-NHLers swear by controversial biofeedback treatment offered in Calgary

Stuart Donaldson, who runs Myosymmetries, works with a patient last month in his clinic in Calgary.
(Todd Korol/The Globe and Mail)

ALLAN MAKI
CALGARY — The Globe and Mail
Published Friday, Jun. 02, 2017 9:12PM EDT

There was a time when his eyes and brain were at odds with one another. He would try reading a book and found he couldn’t follow the words beyond four pages or even remember what he had just read. He was perpetually tired. He needed help.

So Dennis Polonich, the former Detroit Red Wings forward who decades earlier was left broken and bloodied on the ice after being smashed in the face with an opponent’s stick, ended up walking into Stuart Donaldson’s Myosymmetries Clinic in Calgary – for biofeedback and psychological services.

Mr. Polonich may not have understood all the science and technology behind his treatment, but this much he knows for certain: “I walked out of that office feeling more comfortable than I was going in. I feel better. I feel happy. I’m reading again.”

Biofeedback is not a new form of alternative therapy – the Biofeedback Research Society was formed in 1969 in Santa Monica, Calif. – but it is controversial. Dr. Donaldson’s use of detailed data collected by a quantitative electroencephalograph (qEEG), however, is at the leading edge of assessing and treating brain-injury symptoms. Using sensors in contact with a patient’s scalp, qEEG technology maps out the brain, producing charts and numbers that indicate which parts are overactive and underactive and whether there have been previous concussions or a mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI).

Read more…

Seeing is Believing: Biofeedback as a Tool to Enhance Motivation for Cognitive Therapy

Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) as applied by behavioral scientists includes strategies for changing negative cognitions that contribute to depression and anxiety. Biofeedback is a useful strategy to demonstrate to clients the mind (cognitive, psychological) to body (physiological) interaction. For example, a cognitive, psychological reaction to a stimuli results in a physiological effects as illustrated by changes in skin conductance or muscle tension. A case example is used to demonstrate an anticipatory psychophysiological response resulting in covert activity of the forearm as a client simply imagines playing the piano.

Read the full article (PDF)

How Emory University Counseling and Psychological Services’ Dana Wyner uses biofeedback

We are often asked by counselors in counseling programs how they can incorporate biofeedback in to their counseling programs.  Helping students cope with stress and offering an avenue for counseling services is a very valuable commodity to any university and its student body. Dr Wyner and Emory University have an excellent counseling program at Emory and asked her Emorys’ model This is from the desk of Dr Wyner:

This is the core of the letter that I send to counseling center psychologists who ask me how we run our program…

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Emory University Student Counseling Program Helping Students Cope with Stress

Great article about the student counseling program at Emory University. See the full story below.

“As the calm and collected overseer of Eagles at Ease Stress Management Services, Dana Wyner ’04 PhD encourages her clients to take a mental mini holiday, go limp like JELL-O and feel snug as a bug in a rug.

Those practical lessons for relaxation on the go are particularly helpful during exam time, when nerves are frayed and performance anxieties go into overdrive.

The Student Counseling Center Stress Clinic, funded by Emory’s new mental health fee, sees more than 30 students each semester for issues such as test-taking anxiety, phobias, insomnia, difficulty concentrating, headaches and hypertension. Services include helping students develop a personalized toolbox of positive coping strategies, small group training in relaxation skills and biofeedback, and individualized therapy sessions.”

Read the full article at Emory.edu

What is BCIA? Why is BCIA Certification Important?

What Is the Role of the Biofeedback Certification International Alliance (BCIA)?

BCIA serves as the certification body for the clinical practice of biofeedback and neurofeedback, including Pelvic Floor Muscle Dysfunction Biofeedback. BCIA serves as the standard bearer for the fields of biofeedback and neurofeedback.  The BCIA mission statement is quite simple:

            BCIA certifies individuals who meet education and training standards in

            biofeedback and neurofeedback, and progressively recertifies those who

            advance their knowledge through continuing education.

 It is apparent from this mission statement that education and training should be the main focus for BCIA– and they are!  Where does the educational process start?

It all starts with the blueprints of knowledge.  BCIA’s Board of Directors has spent countless hours reviewing the science and the literature on biofeedback, neurofeedback, and self-regulation to ensure that the three blueprints carefully outline the fundamental science, history, and theory of the modalities and thus set templates for what every beginning clinician needs to know.  As the science and clinical efficacy literature have evolved, we have revised the blueprints to keep pace and to truly represent current best practice.

BCIA can only add information to our blueprints when efficacy has been scientifically established. We recommend that you read LaVaque and colleagues’ (2002) informative “Template for developing guidelines for the evaluation of the clinical efficacy of psychophysiological evaluations.” Additionally, the BCIA blueprints must be free of commercial bias. Once beginners can understand the accepted fundamental science, the same science as others who are certified, they are better able to review the field and make a good decision about various theories or equipment choices.

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Cleveland Clinic’s Motor Control Program – Helping stroke patients

Dr. Jeffrey Bolek Phd has been doing some amazing work at the Cleveland Clinic’s Motor Control Program. Here is a story of how Dr. Bolek used his work to help a stroke patient walk again within a few weeks.

Teen goes from wheelchair to walking in three weeks

It’s the leading cause of debilitating illness in this country but imagine being told as a teenager you’ll spend the rest of your life in a wheelchair.

Read more…