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Biofeedback helps Olympian win gold

Canada brings home gold by training mind and body.
Canada brings home gold by training mind and body.
AP Photo

For the first time on home turf, Alexandre Bilodeau won an Olympic gold medal for Canada.  His secret for winning the men's moguls crown included training his mind as well as his body.

Canada's moguls and aerials team's psychiatrist, Dr. Penny Werthner, administered bioneurofeedback with the athletes as part of their preparation for the Olympic games.

Biofeedback is a process that enables an individual to learn how to change physiological activity for the purposes of improving health and performance. Precise instruments measure physiological activity such as brainwaves, heart function, breathing, muscle activity, and skin temperature. These instruments rapidly and accurately "feed back" information to the user. The presentation of this information — often in conjunction with changes in thinking, emotions, and behavior — supports desired physiological changes. Over time, these changes can endure without continued use of an instrument. (source -

In an article by Donna Spencer in The Canadian Press, Dr. Werthner says, "What screws up every Olympic performance, I think, is over-anxiety and trying to do too much and try too hard.  This is the tool that's helped them understand that."

Spencer goes on to report that, "Bioneurofeedback taught Bilodeau how to relax between runs.  He uses a specific type of recovery breathing about five minutes before his performances.  Then, he flips the mental switch into performance-mode for the next 25 to 30 seconds down the hill."

For more information on biofeedback, visit the Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback at or the Biofeedback Certification Institute of America at



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