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Electrical Stimulation

Electrical stimulation (e-stim) is used in physical therapy to assist in the rehabilitation of many patients.  There are different kinds of electrical stimulation that each function in unique methods that lend themselves to the treatment of different conditions.   Each provider will help to determine which of the following types would be suited for each individual patient’s needs.

Interferential Current

Interferential Current (IFC) is arguably the most common type of e-stim and it is used for pain relief. Electrodes are placed on the skin surrounding the patient’s painful area and an electrical current runs between a pair of electrodes to interfere with the pain message that their body is sending to the brain. This results in pain relief stemming from acute, chronic and post-surgical conditions. A typical IFC treatment lasts between ten and thirty minutes however a carry-over effect has been shown to occur providing some degree of pain relief, continuing for a few hours after the treatment concludes.

Neuro-Muscular Electrical Stimulation

Neuro-Muscular Electrical Stimulation (NMES) is used to re-educate and re-establish communication between the body’s nerves and muscles. NMES increases circulation, relaxes muscle spasms and improves the quality of muscle contractions. Electrodes are placed on specific muscle groups and the electrical current is adjusted to an intensity that causes the muscle to contract. This restores proper firing mechanics which are needed to prevent muscle atrophy and it provides a solid foundation for muscle strengthening.

Russian Stimulation

Similar to NMES, Russian Stimulation uses a higher-frequency electrical current to increase muscle size and endurance. With the electrodes positioned on the muscle, the patient is instructed to perform a muscle contraction or exercise simultaneously with the electrical muscle contraction. This co-contraction fires the muscle with increased intensity which strengthens the muscle and accelerates muscle recovery. This form of e-stim was made popular when it was used to enhance training of Russian Olympic athletes in the 1970s.

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