Electrical Muscle Stimulation Rehab
Here at Greenbriar, we have been spending a lot of time and energy into updating, expanding, and improving our rehab department. Part of the updates that we’re making include adding new tools to our program to help our patients in their rehab journeys. Recently, Dr. Pearson and myself have begun using ESTIM, or electrical muscle stimulation, on patients. ESTIM, also called TENS, is a great tool for us in rehab and offers a wide variety of benefits. But let me back up. First of all, what is ESTIM?
ESTIM, or TENS, is the use of electrical currents to stimulate muscles or relieve pain. By attaching an adhesive pad to the muscle we wish to treat, the current passes through the pad and directly into the muscle, causing it to contract. This process helps retrain muscles that have been damaged or weakened into moving and functioning regularly. At a low setting it had been shown that the electrical current can block pain sensation in muscles as well. At a slightly higher setting is when we are able to obtain the benefits from the stimulation that help retrain and “wake up” muscles.
The concept of using electricity in stimulate different parts of the body has been one that goes back all the way to thousands of years ago. The first instances occurred when it was realized that the electrical currents that some fish give off can be used to treat pain. Obviously, we’ve come pretty far from those days, and it is no longer common place to use the power from fish when we have much more advanced methods.
in 1761, Luigi Galvani was the first scientist to prove that currents can work on muscle. By applying electrical currents to the spinal chord of frogs, he was able to elicit a muscular response, and that the use of these currents could bring forth long term changes in the muscles. Over the next several hundred years, the study of the use of electric currents and their effect on muscles blossomed.
Today, ESTIM is used all over the medical field. Not only is it something we use in our work, but many doctor’s on the human side of medicine take advantage of it’s benefits as well. It is often utilized by athlete’s during strength training. Many chiropractor’s utilize ESTIM to help treat their patients for pain and prepare their muscles before adjustments.
So far, Dr. Pearson and I have used ESTIM on a handful of patients. These dogs have had severe muscle loss and needed to have their muscles stimulated in order for us to move forward with building them up. Often times we’ve noticed that when a patient has muscle loss due to an injury or surgery, their muscles need to be reminded of their jobs, so to speak. The only down side to the practice is that the patient needs to be shaved in the area where the pads are applied, which isn’t a problem for the patient’s that are already shaved from surgery, but we try to avoid shaving our patients if we can help it!
We’re all looking forward to being able to use this incredible tool to help grow our rehab program even more. The possibilities are huge!