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Electrical muscle stimulation (EMS), also known as neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) or electromyostimulation, is the elicitation of muscle contraction using electric impulses. EMS has received increasing attention in the last few years because of its potential to serve as a strength training tool for healthy subjects and athletes, a rehabilitation and preventive tool for partially or totally immobilized patients, a testing tool for evaluating the neural and/or muscular function in vivo, and a post-exercise recovery tool for athletes.
The impulses are generated by a device and delivered through electrodes on the skin in direct proximity to the muscles to be stimulated. The impulses mimic the action potential coming from the central nervous system, causing the muscles to contract. The electrodes are generally pads that adhere to the skin. The use of EMS has been cited by sports scientists as a complementary technique for sports training.
Electric stimulation can be muscular, general and trans-cutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). The muscular type of electric stimulation seeks to strengthen the muscles by reducing muscle spasms. Also known as EMS, this stimulates the skeletal muscle using electric impulses to cause muscle contraction.
TENS is commonly used to help with chronic pain. The general type of electric stimulation is used for healing wounds and alleviating pain. For the convenience of the patient, a portable TENS unit can be prescribed by the doctor or a physical therapist for the patient to use at home.
Interferential current (IFC) is another form of TENS. It is used by physical therapists and chiropractors for the purpose of decreasing inflammation and swelling of affected tissues. This treatment has also shown positive effects in improving symptoms of asthma and in reducing back pain.
Galvanic stimulation is also another application of electric stimulation. This involves applying pulsed electric current on affected body tissues in stimulating muscle contraction. It differs with TENS and IFC in its use of direct current rather than alternating current. The positive pad acts to decrease circulation of the target area and reduce swelling. The negative pad increases the distribution of oxygen, blood and nutrients to the injured area thus increasing the speed of the healing process.
Electric Stimulation Therapy can be used to-
Physical therapists and other medical practitioners attach electrodes on the patient’s skin, causing the target muscles to contract. With electric stimulation, the patient can maintain muscle tone and strength that would otherwise waste away due to lack of usage.
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