Mary Free Bed Opens Biofeedback Lab

August 24, 2005
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GRAND RAPIDS — Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital has opened a Biofeedback Laboratory for Neuromuscular Re-education — the first and only such facility in the Midwest and one of just seven in the nation — designed for patients with neurological disabilities such as spinal cord injury and cerebral palsy.

The facility was created in conjunction with Dr. Bernard Brucker from the University Of Miami School Of Medicine. Brucker pioneered the procedure for biofeedback neuromuscular rehabilitation in 1969. Known as the “Brucker Method,” the procedure is based on operant conditioning and is designed to teach individuals to use motor cells in the brain, brain stem, and spinal cord more efficiently.

Brucker trained biofeedback therapists Brittany Moore and Megan Potter, who will lead the Mary Free Bed laboratory.

“The most remarkable part about neuromuscular rehabilitation is that it is not a time-sensitive therapy — there is no window of opportunity that can be missed,” stated Potter. “Biofeedback offers hope to patients who may have stopped seeking alternative solutions or who may feel it’s too late to attempt rehabilitation.”

Biofeedback therapy is promising for patients with neurological disabilities caused by spinal cord injury, brain injury, stroke, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, Guillain-Barre syndrome, encephalitis, polio/post-polio, myelitis, and Bell’s palsy.

The therapy uses operant conditioning, in which desired behavior is immediately reinforced with a rewarding stimulus. Through immediate visual and auditory feedback, patients learn how to reproduce, maintain, and control responses to maximize muscle function.

“Ultimately, we help the brain reconnect with parts of the body it is not communicating with,” said Moore    

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