Biofeedback may be a modern day word but it is of ancient lineage and used in many healthcare systems today. A body biofeedback device (or mechanism) is similar to a lie-detector test – it reveals body changes when a question is asked.
What kinds of changes? What kinds of questions? Let’s explore this.
Many biofeedback devices
There are many different biofeedback devices that are used in healthcare today. Common ones are Applied Kinesiology (AK) and manual muscle testing (MMT) that use muscle strength or muscle “locking” to obtain an immediate yes/no or binary response to a challenge or question. Some other binary biofeedback devices used in healthcare are the short leg reflex, the sweat response, “still point” (used in CranioSacral therapy) and the occipital drop.
KST practitioners use a binary biofeedback device called the occipital drop (OD). The OD is the apparent movement (or “drop”) of one side of the occipital bone in response to a challenge or question.
How it this used?
First a body part is “challenged” or questioned (physically or mentally) and the body’s binary biofeedback device is checked for a “yes” (a stress response) or “no” (no stress response). It’s a “yes/no” or binary system.
Using a “yes/no device” we can ask the body (KST practitioners refer to the OD as “asking the bODy”) various questions to obtain information.
Doing the OD
After a challenge the practitioner tests to see if the occiput of the skull is level or not. If it is level there is no stress response. If the occiput is uneven then there is a stress response.
Why KST prefers the OD
The occipital drop (OD) has certain advantages over the more widely used AK and MMT or the short leg reflex. One advantage is that there is no muscle fatigue as can occur with both AK and MMT. The OD can be comfortably performed dozens of times a minute with no fatigue.
The advantage the OD has over the short leg reflex is that the OD is not limited to the patient lying face down. The OD may be performed while the patient is standing, sitting, lying down or assuming other postures. The practitioner using the short leg reflex is limited to prone or supine postures.
As you’ve probably guessed, the OD, as with any biofeedback device, is ultimately a communication tool.
What kinds of questions?
What kinds of questions can we ask? All kinds of questions: questions about the physical body, questions about emotional stress or incidents, questions about physiology, questions about any body part, questions regarding the best posture in which the patient should be worked on. In KST we have a saying: you are only limited by the questions you ask.
To help speed the process people who use KST or other biofeedback devices employ a flowchart or protocol to quickly locate the precise area of the patient’s body/mind they wish to address.
Of course the flowchart questions will depend on whether the practitioner is a chiropractor, dentist, psychologist, massage therapist, medical doctor, osteopath or other practitioner. Flowcharts or lines of questioning may be customized to a particular profession or discipline. For example, a sophisticated emotional flow chart was developed by Scott Walker, DC who teaches Neuro Emotional Technique (NET). It is excellent at locating emotional “subluxations” or areas of emotional stress.
The doctor is affected by its use?
We soon realized that practicing the OD on patients had an interesting effect on the doctor. This was an unexpected discovery. Doctors began commenting that after practicing KST they would often “know” the answer before checking for the OD. When they did check with the patient’s OD their “knowing” was always confirmed. Apparently they began developing increased sensitivity to their patients.
I soon learned that this was not unique to KST practitioners. AK, leg check and other biofeedback practitioners also commented upon this increased sensitivity when they paid attention to it.
This “knowing” is much more common than we were aware. It happens in day-to-day practice all the time.
For example, a common experience of many doctors is the following: the patient is lying face down as the doctor enters the room. The doctor casually touches the patient who suddenly exclaims, “That’s the spot.”
“What a coincidence,” the doctor thinks, “I found the area of involvement before the patient told me.”
When we use biofeedback devices, these “coincidences” happen all the time.
In part 2 we’ll see how to incorporate this phenomenon in our practice.