Electromuscular Stimulation (EMS) was developed to assist in many types of muscle rehabilitation and to prevent muscle degeneration in paralyzed patients, but it has quickly been adapted to other protocols as well.
The technology for EMS is based on the reaction of the body to normal exercise. In healthy exercise, the brain sends a signal through the nerves to the muscles. When the signal reaches the muscle, it triggers a chemical reaction, causing the muscle to contract or twitch. This twitch usually involves several muscular motor points at the same time and is directly related to the intensity of stimulus.
In clinical practice, EMS equipment is generating a weak electric impulse that is used to produce a strong muscular contraction similar to a normal voluntary contraction. In EMS, the number of muscles involved in a contraction can be controlled by the number of electrodes placed on the muscles as well as the location and placement of these electrodes. In general, when the muscles are electrically stimulated their contractile force depends on the amplitude of stimulus which is defined as the duration of the stimulating pulse and its frequency (repetition rate).
The use of EMS device during pregnancy has not been established as safe. In addition, adequate precautions should be taken for persons with suspected heart problems or epilepsy.
EMS device should not be applied trans-cerebrally, or over the carotid sinus nerves, especially in patients with a known sensitivity to the carotid sinus reflex. EMS device should only be used under physician supervision for adjunctive therapy for the treatment of musculoskeletal conditions.
In any type of exercise, whether it be passive or active, normal precautions should be observed. However, muscle stimulation treatment should not be given when any of following conditions exist:
- Persons with implanted pacemakers
- Over a pregnant uterus
- Cancerous lesions
In addition to the above, treatment should not be given without physician approval and supervision where any of the following conditions are present:
- Any inflammation, infection or recent scar tissue in the area to be treated
- Any acute medical condition under treatment, such as recent surgery or illness
- Swollen, infected, inflamed areas, or skin eruption, e.g., phlebitis, thrombophlebitis
- Varicose veins in the advanced stage or where there is any convoluted area, such as nodules
- Heart conditions under medical treatment
- Multiple sclerosis
- Allergy to rubber
- Where there is a tendency to hemorrhage following acute trauma or fracture
- Following recent surgical procedure when muscle contraction may disrupt the healing process
- Over the menstruating uterus
- Where sensory nerve damage is present by a loss of normal skin sensation
Very rarely some patients may experience skin irritation or hypersensitivity due to electrical stimulation or electrical conductive medium. The irritation can usually be reduced by use of an alternate conductive medium, or alternate electrode placement.
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