The use of electrical impulses during physiotherapy treatment can have a multitude of applications. While it sounds scary, electrotherapy has a multitude of uses. Therapists can use neuromuscular stimulators (NMES) or TENS units to treat a variety of conditions. Everything from avoiding muscle atrophy to pain management can benefit from the use of electrotherapy. Your specific need will dictate what type of electrotherapy is appropriate for your therapy program. Many of these treatments can be done in a clinical setting as well as in the home.
How exactly does electricity play a part in any therapy? To understand this, you must understand how our brain, muscles, and nervous system work together. The normal operation of our muscles relies upon electrical impulses sent by our brain to the corresponding muscles to either contract or extend depending upon the task at hand. Many times due to injury or other type of malady, our body’s nerve receptors can trigger when some type of acute injury or even chronic situation causes pain or a lack of response from our muscles. Electrotherapy for nerve pain normally includes TENS therapy. TENS is an acronym for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation, which uses electrical wavelengths administered by a TENS unit to alleviate pain. While it’s not fully understood how it works for pain relief it is believed that the electrical impulses a TENS unit generates interferes with our bodies own pain receptors, therefore blocking pain. The other theory is that a TENS unit produces electrical impulses that stimulate our bodies production of dopamine, which is a natural pain relieving hormone. Besides pain relief, electrotherapy (EMS) can be used for rehabilitation and even for training and recovery for athletes around the globe. There are different types of electrotherapy dependent upon your individual needs.
Many physiotherapy treatment programs can incorporate electrotherapy in them. Your physical therapist may opt for TENS therapy that includes a TENS unit or a neuromuscular stimulator (EMS or NMES). Options for this therapy include:
This two-channel, an analog device provides muscle stimulation for a variety of acute medical situations. They include immobilized limbs, long-term disuse/prolonged bed rest, muscle weakness, and muscle spasticity caused by a stroke. EMS 2000 Stimulator offers three modes of operation: cycled, constant, and reciprocal and is powered by a 9 V battery. Dual channels are controlled by adjustable knobs for tailored intensity for each user. Care should be exercised to avoid certain pacemakers when using this device.
Designed for the prevention of disuse atrophy and muscle re-education, this portable NMES unit features dual independent channels, adjustable pulse amplitudes, and pulse frequencies. It also allows for adjustable contraction and relaxation parameters. It utilizes an asymmetric biphase square pulse waveform that can improve circulation and is compact and portable (only 1" x 2.4" x 3.6" inches).
Some electrotherapy units can provide multiple physiotherapy treatments. Multimodality Sequential Unit can be programmed for three different types of electrotherapy: NMS, INF, and TENS. The programmable sequence allows users to customize their therapy by type and duration. The key is the three wavelengths available to users that include symmetric biphase, pulsed sine, and asymmetrical biphase. It features nine different preprogrammed fixed sequences which allow for 20 minutes of INF, 20 minutes of NMS and ending with 20 minutes of TENS therapy. This allows for pain relief and combating muscle atrophy all in the same unit!! This unit allows therapist and users to adjust both the pulse rate and width to customize any electrotherapy session.
These devices are used for the evaluation and treatment of muscular dysfunction caused by peripheral and CNS disorders by preventing or retarding muscle atrophy, calming muscle spasms, and muscle re-education. Muscle stimulators are perfect for facial and smaller peripheral muscles since they use active probe positioning and on/off control with effective and comfortable stimulation. Many times your doctor/therapist may prescribe this for use in the home for greater patient compliance to electrotherapy.
This Digital TENS/EMS/IF Device relieves chronic intractable pain. It helps relax muscle spasms, increase blood circulation, prevent or retard disuse atrophy, and maintain or increase range of motion. It also helps reeducate muscles or stimulate calf muscles post-surgery, prevents venous thrombosis, and treats post-traumatic pain. It is a dual, isolated channel with adjustable pulse intensity, adjustable pulse frequency, and adjustable (TENS) and fixed (EMS) pulse widths. The electrotherapy device comes in a hard-sided, protective plastic case.
Core Pain Remedy Plus TENS Unit is a wireless technology-equipped device with rechargeable batteries and reusable electrodes. In combination with snap-style electrodes, the rechargeable receivers send electrical impulses to stimulate the nerves and block pain signals. The TENS unit is used to relieve pain associated with sore or aching muscles of the back, arms, or legs due to strain from exercise or normal household and work activities. The machine is used almost anywhere on the body. The rechargeable batteries save you from the hassle and expense of finding AAA batteries when you are in pain.
Electrotherapy and pain relief can be achieved on your own schedule by employing an EMS or TENS unit. Each physiotherapy treatment can be done in a clinical setting or at home at your leisure. You should work with your doctor or therapist to derive the proper program for your individual case. Any change in the unit setting should only be done at the discretion of your doctor or therapist. Zap your way to pain relief easily and comfortably.
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Kevin Cleary has been a Health Products For You contributor for many years and has a degree in marketing. His health and wellness journey has a very personal meaning and has guided him in his content writing for HPFY.
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