Electrical Muscle Stimulation
Treating muscular disorders with electricity has intrigued mankind for centuries. Experiments in electro-therapy have been conducted since Aetuis, a Greek physician, prescribed a treatment for gout in the form of shock from an electric fish. Galvani, a professor at the university of Bologna, observed in 1780 the twitching of the muscles of a frogs legs under the influence of electricity. Functional machines and the galvanic battery served as the early sources of electro-therapy. Following the discovery of the induction coil by Faraday, the principle of electro-physiology or stimulation of muscles and nerves by galvanic and faradic currents were developed in the middle of the last century.
Various currents have been used for the last several decades:
While differing considerably in waveform, all currents obtain the same physiological effects.
The limits of electrical stimulation have not been reached, and even its current sophisticated use will be as antiquated as the methods of the past.
- Galvanic (DC)
- Alternating (AC)
- Rectangular pulse
Understanding Electrical Muscle Stimulation
The real values of neuromuscular stimulation are;
The greatest deterrent to more widespread use of muscle stimulation is the inherent fear of electricity. To overcome fear or apprehension, the clinician must understand the basic technology of neuromuscular stimulation, specific indications and general guidance for its use. For the patient to overcome the fear of stimulation, a careful introduction and detailed explanation is of outmost importance.
It is necessary to gradually explain the stimulation process and allow the patient to hold the electrodes in each hand to feel the stimulus. Explain the tingling or vibration sensation and always use a low frequency when beginning treatment. Once the patient understand the sensation, increase gradually the stimulus frequency to feel exactly what is a sustained tetanic contraction and what is expected from neuromuscular stimulation.
Neuromuscular stimulation is efficient and cost effective treatment in both, the home and in the clinic setting. Once patient confidence is gained, the clinician can provide the patient with a portable unit that will allow for continuity between clinic treatment programs and at-home therapy.
- muscle re-education
- development and increase of muscle tone and strength
- maintenance or increase of range of motion
- improvement in local blood circulation
- preventing muscle atrophy
- relaxation of muscular spasms