Biofeedback technology application specifics in adaptive physical education and rehabilitation of retarded children

Biofeedback technology application specifics in adaptive physical education and rehabilitation of retarded children


Dr.Med., Associate Professor V.P. Vlasova
Mordovia State Pedagogical Institute named after M.E. Evsevev, Saransk

Keywords: children with impairments, biofeedback technology, mentally retarded children’s adaptive physical education and rehabilitation.

Background. It is mental retardation also known as oligophrenia that is reported to be the most common form of intellectual deficiency the world over nowadays. More than 300 million people in the world are diagnosed with mental retardation, and mentally retarded children are estimated to make up 60% of the 600 thousand students diagnosed with different developmental disorders.

At the last International Workshop “Sports for Persons with Mental Retardation (PMR)": Prospects and Development Strategies” (held in Saransk on November 12-16, 2015), S.P. Evsevev, President of the Sports Federation for Persons with Intellectual Disability, stated that the sport entered an important stage of the relevant legal and regulatory framework being established for the special PMR sports. The Ministry of Sports of the Russian Federation approved by its Order the “Federal Sport Training Standard for Mentally Retarded People” and the base sector list of the works and services in the physical culture and sports sector was complemented by 52 basic athletic training services for the mentally retarded. The relevant orders of the Ministry of Sports of the Republic of Mordovia and other provincial government agencies in 14 regions of Russia qualified PMR sports among the priority sports subject to training since childhood.

Specific coordination disorders and imperfections of gross motor skills in the mentally retarded children are known to be due to specific organic damages in the frontal lobes. This pathology is associated with retardation of mental and physical activity and, as mentioned above, imperfections of finely differentiated motor skills, coordination disorders and significantly impaired adaptive functioning [2, p. 15].

Intellectual disability is an irreversible health disorder, albeit it does not mean that it cannot be corrected to a degree. Persistent efforts to develop gross motor skills may result in up to 80% of adolescents diagnosed with a mild mental retardation graduating from special schools with the mental and physical fitness standards fairly close to those of their healthy peers.

The biological feedback (BFB) based technologies give the means to cultivate positive attitudes to healthy lifestyle, learn the children to understand their psycho-physiological condition and accept their personal responsibility for their own health. The BFB-based technologies may evolve into an indispensable component of the physical education and sport practice for targeted improvement of body functioning and development of muscle groups.

Objective of the study was to provide theoretical and practical substantiations for the BFB-based technologies being used in the adaptive physical education process.

Study results and discussion. Modern health professionals including orthopaedists, neurologists, rehabilitation experts, kinesiologists, remedial therapists and physical therapists may highly benefit from the modern BFB-based technologies which may be described as the non-pharmacological therapeutic and rehabilitative methods designed to record, multiply and feed back the key physiological information to activate internal reserves of the body and help restore and improve the physiological functioning. The BFB-based technologies may be applied for a wide variety of therapeutic, diagnostic and rehabilitation tasks including the muscular tone diagnostics and  hyper-active muscle group sedation and relaxation to increase their contractive ability and help form specific motor skills.

Furthermore, the BFB-based technologies are widely applied in modern elite sport to attain a variety of goals, e.g.: to select gifted athletes; assess and control functional reserves; develop physical performance control skills; be in top form by the due time and cope with prestart anxiety; rehabilitate athletes after physical injuries and mental stresses; etc.; and this is by far not a full list of the goals attainable by the BFB-based technologies.

Since the BFB-based technologies are basically designed to help improve self-control skills, they can be applied to solve not only medical problems, but also educational, health-protection and health-improvement ones, and in this context the BFB-based technologies may be viewed as the adaptive/ functioning bio-control methods. In the US, for instance, the BFB-based technologies are common in the school system and applied for the whole school period to correct pupil's posture, speech, mental status and behaviour.

The modern Russian market offers a wide variety of combined BFB tools applicable both for individual and group corrective and preventive activities. Nevertheless, it should be noted that the practical experience of the national teachers in the BFB-based technology application for educational purposes is still limited, and this might be the reason why no overviews of the BFB-based technologies in application to mentally retarded and otherwise disabled children can be found in the national study reports [4, p. 92].

It is a matter of common knowledge that motor activities of mentally retarded underage children are limited by specific irreversible effects dominated by certain inertia of the nervous processes and interaction deficiencies of the sensomotor functions. Therefore, the educational objectives in physical education of mentally retarded primary school children, as provided by A.A. Slyadnev, will be focused mostly on facilitating an educational environment to develop reduced (simplified) forms of symbolic motor intentionality [5, p. 18]. The symbolic intentionality is referred to by the author as the unconscious motivational base of motor activity driven by pointless (symbolic) activity associated with a positive emotional and cognitive background.

Our analysis of the BFB-based technology application situation in the region showed that none of the 4 special corrective VIII-category general education schools in the Republic of Mordovia has ever applied any BFB-based technology in practical physical education of the students. Schools need to duly customize the educational systems for the special needs of children with impairments to find the most efficient ways and conditions for their individual socialization and self-fulfilment agendas; and design the education and socialization methods and content with these objectives in mind. In this context, the teachers come up with the questions like: “What educational technologies are applicable in the adaptive education process at special corrective schools?” “What are the most efficient ways to design educational and socialization process in application to children with impairments, and what education technologies are the most appropriate for that?” [1, p. 32].

Physical education is viewed as the core method to improve motor abilities of mentally retarded children; correct their motor skills and physical developmental disorders; form motor skills and experience and, based on all that – improve their personality traits and cognitive activity. It is well known that children diagnosed with a mild mental retardation normally show well-developed emotional sensitivity and responsiveness and, consequently, a methodological approach to shape up motivations for motor activity in such children is to be dominated by persistent positive emotional background to facilitate their motor skill self-development efforts. The Federal Education Standard for the mildly mentally retarded pupils subject to training under the Principal Adaptive Curriculum (PAC) for children diagnosed with mild mental retardation (Category 1) in the physical education domain require the children being not only skilful in the health-protection activity self-control, but also having due motor skills, coordination abilities and advanced physical qualities; plus being engaged in accessible sports and capable to control own body functions by the accessible means [6]. In this context, the BFB-based technologies may be recommended as providing a set of special tools for adaptive physical education of underage children with impairments; for rehabilitative and corrective tasks, and also for the motor skills mastering and self-control ability formation process. In addition, the technologies offer attractive and expressive game-styled information on the displays to improve the efficiency of the methodology in application to physical education of mentally retarded pupils.

To meet the regional demand for the adaptive physical education personnel and speed up the PMR sport development process, a professional training curriculum for the Physical Education teachers of MR children applicable in a phased format has been designed at the Physical Education Faculty of Mordovia State Pedagogical Institute named after M.E. Evsevev [3]. The Adaptive Physical Education discipline was included in the variable part of the curricula under the core professional education programs for the students majoring in Pedagogical Education and Physical Education for Master Level Students. In addition, the Physical Education Faculty has launched a project to develop a core professional education curriculum for the Adaptive Physical Education discipline (for bachelor training level) that is expected to be implemented as soon as the curriculum is approved as compliant with the valid Educational Standard.

Conclusion. Presently physical education practices are viewed as an indispensable method to develop motor skills and sensor processes, to improve health and rehabilitate the mentally retarded children. Modern BFB-based health protection and improvement technologies are recommended as beneficial for the programs to improve adaptive motor functioning of the children diagnosed with a mild mental retardation and, among other things, contribute to the PMR sport progress and accomplishments.


  1. Arkhipova S.V. Sovremennye tekhnologii obucheniya i vospitaniya uchashchikhsya s ogranichennymi vozmozhnostyami zdorov'ya (mater. mezhregion. seminara-praktikuma) (Modern technologies of training and education of students with impairments (Proc. of Inter-regional Workshop) / S.V. Arkhipova, O.A. Bibina // Gumanitarnye nauki i obrazovanie (Humanities and Education). – 2013. – № 2 (14). – P. 31–34.
  2. Vlasova V.P. Vliyanie zanyatiy fizicheskoy kul'turoy na fizicheskuyu podgotovlennost mladshikh shkol'nikov s ogranichennymi vozmozhnostyami zdorov'ya (Effect of physical education lessons on physical fitness of primary pupils with impairments) / V.P. Vlasova, A.A. Rodinov // Aktual'nye problemy fizicheskoy kul'tury i studencheskogo sporta na sovremennom etape: vseros. stud.nauch.-prakt. internet-konf. (Actual problems of physical education and university sport: Proc. of stud. res.-pract. Internet conf.) / Ed. by A.A. Shchankin; Mordovia State Pedagogical Institute. - Saransk, 2015. – P. 12–17.
  3. Gryzlova L.V. Podgotovka professional'nykh kadrov po fizicheskoy kul'ture i sportu v usloviyakh modernizatsii vysshego obrazovaniya (Personnel training in physical education and sport sector within modernization of higher education) / L.V. Gryzlova, A.V. Kokurin // Teoriya i praktika fizicheskoy kultury. – 2015. – № 8. – P. 13–14.
  4. Kling E.A. Primenenie apparatno-programmnogo kompleksa s modulem «Bos-puls» dlya lecheniya i reabilitatsii detey (Application of hardware and software complex with "Bos-puls" (Biofeedback-pulse) module for the treatment and rehabilitation of children) / E.A. Kling // Vestnik pedagogicheskikh innovatsiy. – 2015. – № 2 (38). – P. 90–96.
  5. Slyadnev A.A. Metodicheskie podkhody k formirovaniyu dvigatel'no-simvolicheskoy intentsionalnosti rebenka s narusheniem intellekta (Methodological approaches to formation of motor-symbol intentionality of mentally retarded child) / A.A. Slyadnev // Adaptivnaya fizicheskaya kul'tura. – 2012. – № 2 (50). – P. 17–19.
  6. Federal'ny gosudarstvenny obrazovatel'ny standart obrazovaniya obuchayushchikhsya s umstvennoy otstalost'yu (intellektualnyimi narusheniyami) (Federal state educational standard for mentally retarded pupils (with intellectual disabilities) [electronic resource]. – URL:

Corresponding author:


The article explores some matters of neuromuscular activity in the rowing sport. Subject to the study were 48 rowers. The study was designed to record bioelectrical potentials in motor points of the musculus biceps brachii and musculus triceps brachii of the subject athletes, with the skin electromyograms being applied to obtain data profiles of the athletes performing the standard motor sequences with rated loads on the Concept-II rowing simulator unit during the training sessions. Subject to the analysis were the electromyographic patterns of the above shoulder muscles under rated loads on the rowing simulator. The study data gave the means to identify some important trends and offer a quantitative electromyographic rating method to profile the action/ relaxation cycles of the musculus biceps brachii and musculus triceps brachii. The newly developed method makes it possible to obtain objective process rating data based on the harmonization degrees of the musculus biceps brachii and musculus triceps brachii action/ relaxation cycles, the data being beneficial for the dynamic process control and the education/ training load management and correction process efficiency improvement; in addition, the performance rating data may be beneficial for a variety of expert studies and sport selection at different stages of athletic career.