A Complete Overview of Electrical Stimulation Therapy

June 1, 2018 admin No comments exist

The electrical stimulation therapy is a beneficial treatment that relates electrical stimulation in treating muscle spasms and pain. It can help inhibit atrophy and build strength in patients with injuries. It is also supportive in keeping muscles active particularly after any type of spinal cord injury or strokes.

Here’s what you should know about electrical stimulation therapy:


How electrical stimulation therapy does works?

Electrical stimulation is a type of treatment often used in occupational therapy or other rehabilitation situations. The two main uses for this treatment include pain relief and the muscle re-education. In most settings, there is a machine that runs an electrical current. Wires from the machine are associated with adhesive patches that are positioned on the skin over a prearranged area. Electrical current is then directed from the machine to the patches and delivered into the muscle tissue below, producing a sensory or motor response.


What are the uses of electrical stimulation therapy?

Following are the main uses of electrical stimulation therapy:

  • Regulatory of the brain:

The most incredible claim of electrical stimulation is controlling the brain. If the physique is controlled by electrical signals, the brain is the regulator center, and electrical stimulation can be used to hack the brain. Whatever the brain controls can be worked with electrical stimulation: feelings, thinking performance, and motor skills.

  • Pain relief:

When you’re in pain, your body is referring a message through your nerves to your brain. Electrical stimulation, when used correctly, can successfully block the pain signal so that your brain never gets the message. Applying electrical stimulation around the pain receptors fundamentally produces so much noise that your brain can’t hear what the pain receptors are saying. Since you don’t get the message, you don’t sense the pain.

  • Rehabilitation:

The common use of electrical stimulation is through occupational therapy, particularly after injury or surgery on a joint like the knee. Muscle atrophy and poor activation are big difficulties after knee surgery, so occupational therapists will normally use an electrical stimulation unit to cause isometric reductions of the quadriceps in an exertion to combat atrophy and assist with voluntary contractions. Electrical stimulation also advances blood flow, which hurries up the healing process.

Functional electrical stimulation (FES) is also particularly valuable for supporting in recovery following a stroke, brain injury, or incomplete spinal cord injury, as it can help teach the nervous system how to reach, grasp, or even walk again.

  • Sports performance:

Sports Athletes have been using the electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) to shape muscle, increase strength, and speed recovery since the Russians started incorporating EMS into their training for the Olympics back in the 1950s. EMS can trigger all of the muscle fibers in a muscle group at the same time, ensuing in suggestively stronger contractions than can normally be attained willingly. More stacking of the muscle means more adaptation, plus, you can essentially work the muscle out without thinking about it since the EMS activates the muscle.

  • Recompensing for paralysis:

Outside rehabilitation, FES can be used as a neuroprosthetic to pay off for paralysis. For example, if your brain and spinal cord can’t connect with the muscles in your shin, you might experience foot drop when walking. The paralyzed shin powers are powerless to pick your foot up when you walk, so your toe struggles on the ground, making walking hard and unsafe.


electrical stimulation


What are benefits of electrical stimulation therapy & how much is it effective?

There are many benefits of electrical stimulation therapy related to the rehabilitation, recovery, and prevention. These benefits include:

  • Muscle Re-education technique:

Muscle re-education is the technique that has been used with electrical muscle stimulation in the early stages of physical rehabilitation for the injury that has left certain muscles unused for a long time period or that affected the brain. There are two main goals of this treatment that include:

  1. To strengthen the weak muscles
  2. To force these muscles for contraction in a coordinated pattern, that strengthens the cognitive link between the brain and these muscles movements

After finishing muscle re-education treatment, the rehab patients need to do more strenuous exercises so that the muscles can be returned to their optimal strength.

  • Muscle Atrophy treatment:

Electrical muscle stimulation therapy can also be used to treat, slow down or prevent the effects of muscle atrophy – a symptom in which muscle mass gets decreased – by keeping the weak muscle active. This use is also FDA-approved.

  • Osteoarthritis treatment:

The degradation of the joint tissues leads to a painful and weakening condition, called Osteoarthritis. According to a clinical study that was published in the “Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation”, the electrical muscle stimulation therapy was found as an effective treatment for the elderly patients who have developed hip osteoarthritis after having total hip arthroplasty surgery. Another important benefit of muscles pain treatment is that it can strengthen the knee extensor muscles.

  • Pressure Sore Prevention:

Pressure sores are one of the common problems that affect those patients who are bound to beds, wheelchairs or other equipment and these result as a constant pressure applied to some specific areas of the body. Electrical muscle stimulation therapy reduces the risk of developing the pressure sores, significantly maintains the proper shape of buttocks and avoids the occurrence of any deformity.


electrical muscle stimulation


Are there any shortcomings of electrical stimulation therapy?

Following are some of the shortcomings of electrical stimulation therapy:

  • Interference with implanted medical devices:

If you use an implanted medical device that is electrically mechanical, such as a pacemaker, use caution when applying electrical muscle stimulation. Though implanted medical devices are intended to work properly around other electronic devices, it is still likely for their function to be changed by the electromagnetic intrusion, or EMI, from muscle stimulators. Rooted pacemakers and heart defibrillators can mistake EMI from the electrical muscle stimulator for a physical signal coming from the body itself. This causes the devices to retort to the signal — pacemakers do so by changing their rate, and inserted defibrillators may bring a superfluous shock.

  • Muscle tears:

Certain types of muscle injury can be caused by electrical muscle stimulation if the tissue develops too tense during the electrically tempted contraction. Muscles are most simply hurt at the musculotendinous junction and can tear at these sites if the stimulator is turned up too high. Electrical stimulation can also cause pre-existing muscle injuries, such as tears and deep bruises, to get poorer and may even avoid full tissue healing. If a muscle begins to hurt more when the stimulus is applied, turn off the machine and refer a medical provider for direction on proper parameters.

  • Tissue burns:

Unfitting use of a muscle stimulation unit can easily lead to skin burns if a sturdy electrical current is delivered through a small electrode; the skin is unprotected to a higher deliberation of electricity per unit of area, which can cause burns. Be cautious of skin pain and distress in the area under the electrode during stimulation. While stimulation frequently causes a strong prickly sensation, it should not be sore or cause distress of any sort. If the stimulation is painful, turn off the machine and eliminate the electrodes so your skin can recuperate.

  • Skin irritation:

Skin irritation can happen because of a response to the electrode bonding agent or the electrical current itself. To help avert a reaction to the adhesive used on electrodes, thorough cleaning and drying the skin before applying the electrodes. Areas of skin that you have newly shaved may also be more disposed to being exasperated and swollen by the flow of the electric current. If you have sustained skin irritation even after taking precautions, seek direction from a medical professional.


muscles pain treatment


In order to avoid any side effect or shortcoming, it is necessary that a professional, skilled and experienced occupational therapist perform the electrical stimulation therapy so that the patient can get full benefits of the treatment. The certified and licensed occupational therapists at Hand In Hand perform the electrical stimulation therapy in the most effective and efficient manner that gives significant results.


***The material given in this article is for general information purposes and doesn’t construe as professional/medical advice***

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