Long-term effects of biofeedback-induced facial relaxation on measures of asthma severity in children

Biofeedback Self Regul. 1991 Mar;16(1):1-21. doi: 10.1007/BF01000442.


We studied the effects of electromyographic biofeedback on measures of asthma severity in children. Fifteen children received biofeedback training to reduce facial tension, and 14 children, who served as controls, received biofeedback training to maintain facial tension at a stable level. Assignment to experimental condition was random. As a result of training, electromyographic levels decreased in children trained in facial relaxation and remained fairly constant in children trained in facial tension stability. Biofeedback training was augmented for children in both groups by having them practice their facial exercises at home. Each child's condition was followed for a five-month period subsequent to biofeedback training. Throughout the experiment, the following measures of asthma severity were monitored: lung function, self-rated asthma severity, medication usage, and frequency of asthma attacks. In addition, standardized measures of attitudes toward asthma, self-concept, and chronic anxiety were recorded at regular intervals. As compared to the facial stability subjects, the facial relaxation subjects exhibited higher pulmonary scores, more positive attitudes toward asthma, and lower chronic anxiety during the follow-up period. Subjects in the two groups, however, did not differ on self-rated asthma severity, medication usage, frequency of asthma attacks, or self-concept. Based on the improvements we observed in pulmonary, attitude, and anxiety measures, we concluded that biofeedback training for facial relaxation contributes to the self-control of asthma and would be a valuable addition to asthma self-management programs.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Asthma / diagnosis
  • Asthma / physiopathology*
  • Asthma / psychology
  • Biofeedback, Psychology / physiology*
  • Child
  • Electromyography
  • Facial Muscles / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle Relaxation / physiology*
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Spirometry
  • Time Factors