Thermal biofeedback in the treatment of intermittent claudication in diabetes: A case study


The objective of the present case study was to examine the therapeutic effects of thermal biofeedback-assisted autogenic training on a patient with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM), vascular disease, and symptoms of intermittent claudication. The patient received thermal biofeedback from the hand for five sessions, then from the foot for 16 sessions, while hand and foot skin temperature were monitored simultaneously. In addition, the patient was instructed in autogenic training and practiced daily at home. Follow-up measurements were taken at 12 and 48 months. Within-session foot temperature rose specifically in response to foot temperature biofeedback and starting foot temperature rose between sessions. Posttreatment blood pressure was reduced to a normal level. Attacks of intermittent claudication were reduced to zero after 12 sessions and walking distance increased by about a mile per day over the course of treatment. It would appear that thermal biofeedback and autogenic training are potentially promising therapies for persons with diabetes and peripheral vascular disease.

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Correspondence to J. Terry Saunders.

Additional information

Preparation of this article was supported in part by NIDDK grant No. R0128288 and the Commonwealth of Virginia Diabetes Clinical Research Institute.

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Saunders, J.T., Cox, D.J., Teates, C.D. et al. Thermal biofeedback in the treatment of intermittent claudication in diabetes: A case study. Biofeedback and Self-Regulation 19, 337–345 (1994).

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Descriptor Key words

  • non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus
  • biofeedback
  • peripheral vascular disease
  • relaxation therapy
  • intermittent claudication