Electrical muscle stimulator, its working and benefits

What is muscle stimulation?

There is a need to evoke the muscular contractions using an outside source which is capable to generate the electrical impulses within the muscle fibers when the body fails to generate the contractions on its own. This device has a set of frequency and intensity at which this is done and is known as an electrical muscle stimulator.

What is the mechanism behind muscle stimulation?

The device contains a set of two or four electrodes which are placed on the skin directly over the weak muscle and are connected by wires to the device at the other end. The stimulator starts inducing the number of impulses into the muscles to skin via the electrodes. These impulses mimic the working of normal action potential and thereby make the muscle units twitch and relax alternatively. As the skeletal muscles differ in sizes, shapes and muscle responses, the electrical muscle stimulator being user friendly trains them with different frequencies available.

When is the correct time to administer an EMS?

The EMS is used majority of the times whenever there is complain of muscle weakness, hypo to nicity and muscle wasting due to not using the muscle actively by the patient for a long time. This generally occurs in patients with plaster cast application after fracture, post surgery when bed rest is advised; nerve disorders like Bell’s palsy, sciatic nerve injury or as a strength training tool in sports people.

What are the areas where the EMS is used?

As a strength training device, EMS is used by sports people during their professional lives. It not only enhances the self confidence of the sportsman but also prepares them to prepare for the upcoming sports event by toning up the muscle groups.

As weight reduction device the muscle stimulator is still a topic to debate upon. The burning of calories has not been proven, yet it is being used in home markets with products like belts, vibrators etc.

One of the largest areas where the EMS is being used highly efficiently is therapeutic. For instance, in infants with nerve injuries like erb’s paralysis or klumpke’s paralysis the electrical muscle stimulator helps regeneration of nerves and building the muscle strength so that the arm can be raised or bent actively by the infant. In adults, whenever there is a nerve injury like radial nerve palsy or foot drop or facial paralysis the stimulator works as a re educating device and educated the muscle about its function and desired time to contract or relax.

It is often seen that the muscle weakness becomes more pronounced when there is long immobilization of the leg or arm etc. or after recovery from a fracture. In such cases, the muscle mass and tone is gradually built by subsequent sessions of stimulations. Bed ridden patients can also be given stimulations which again prevents the muscle to lose its function forever.

What are the side effects?

There is a potential risk of sores, electric shocks when electrodes are not held in proximity to the skin. Untidy electrodes can produce allergies or infections. An uncontrolled amount of current may pass if patient is not made aware of the current sensation.

Apart from these, it should be avoided during pregnancy, metal implants and in stroke patients.