In patients with very weak muscles we may recommend that a muscle stimulator be used. Neuromuscular stimulation is provided to the weakened muscle by an electrical device that produces a current that causes the muscle fibers to contract.The electrical stimulation is delivered via surface electrodes placed on the skin over the weak muscle. As the type of electrical stimulus used closely resembles that produced by our bodies nerves it is very comfortable.
Muscle stimulators have evolved and improved significantly over the last 10 years. We like the design and ease of use of the “neurotech” range of stimulators and often prescribe them to patients. They have a range of electrode types depending on the muscle being treated.
Some neuromuscular stimulators have a built in biofeedback function. This gives the patient visual and auditory feedback on how well the muscle is contracting.
Newer devices have an E.T.S.[EMG triggered stimulation] mode. This combines biofeedback with muscle stimulation. It is very useful for muscle retraining prior to progressing to active exercise. The patient has to initiate the muscle contraction and reach a certain point before the muscle stimulating current kicks in.
It is now possible to rent or buy portable muscle stimulators. This has huge advantages for the patient as they can self treat daily – keeping costs down and fast forwarding rehabilitation.