What is Medical Technology?
Calibrate stocks various electronic medical modalities that can be useful adjuncts to both Osteopathic and Physiotherapy treatment. The various modalities we have at Calibrate are explained below.
Extracorporeal shockwave (ESWT) uses a hand-held applicator to deliver powerful acoustic pulses to small areas of tissue in the body. These acoustic pulses, or ‘shockwaves’ are audible and can often be felt in the target area.
Shockwave therapy is increasingly used for a number of soft tissue complaints due to its ability to stimulate tissue adaptation. One key use of Shockwave therapy is the treatment of tendinopathies such as achilles tendinitis, golfer’s elbow, tennis elbow, and plantar fasciitis. There is a lot of research evidence to support the benefit of shockwave therapy for certain categories of tendon injury, especially when preliminary management has not fully resolved the complaint.
Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS)
The targeted use of electrical current at a specific frequency and amplitude can mimic nerve impulses and cause contraction of a muscle. When used by a professional with sufficient understanding of anatomy and function there are many potential uses of this technology, including: muscle retraining; decreasing pain; and decreasing swelling.
EMS is often used to preserve or recover muscle function when the nervous system has been compromised, such as in carpal tunnel syndrome or after stroke. The use of EMS in this context stimulates muscle contraction where there would otherwise be a wasting of muscle. EMS can also be used to help retrain muscle coordination, recruitment, or movement patterns, as part of an overall tailored Osteopathy or Physiotherapy programme.
Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS)
TENS stimulates sensory nerve endings in the skin using low-level electrical stimulation. This can induce pain-reduction mechanisms in the spinal cord leading to eased symptoms. TENS is not a cure-all as it has little effect on the underlying injury in most cases, however it can be a useful tool for temporarily relieving symptoms if that allows a therapeutic intervention, like Osteopathy or Physiotherapy, to proceed more effectively.
In some conditions where altered pain sensitivity is one of the primary pathological processes – Fibromyalgia, Phantom Limb Pain, or Complex Regional Pain Syndrome for example – TENS may help with pain modulation and could be part of long-term management, although the research in this area is sparse.
Interferential therapy utilises two simultaneous low-frequency electrical impulses that ‘interfere’ with one another allowing greater physiological effects at lower levels of discomfort to the patient. This electrical impulse can be used to stimulate nerves or muscles at greater depths than TENS or EMS for various therapeutic effects.
Interferential electrical stimulation is often applied after an acute injury to aim certain parameters of the healing process. The electrical stimulation can decrease pain, improve local blood circulation, decrease swelling, and has also been proposed to increase healing through enhanced cell proliferation at injury sites.
Therapeutic Ultrasound uses mechanical vibrations at a specific frequency to stimulate tissues. These vibrations are just like the sounds that we hear, but at a much higher frequency. One of the mechanisms of Ultrasound is the production of heat. Ultrasound vibrations travel through tissues, being slowly absorbed by molecules in the tissues themselves which causes a subtle heating up effect. This local increase in temperature in turn affects blood and lymph flow, and may have a therapeutic effect on pain. Therapeutic Ultrasound can also have an effect on tissue healing at each stage of tissue healing following injury – and could be used if it is suspected that this normal healing process is suboptimal in some individuals.
Tecar therapy uses electrostatic attraction and friction to stimulate heat inside the body. This more recent and increasingly popular therapy in rehabilitation is used to reduce oedema, inflammation, pain and also stimulates and quickens healing mechanisms by increasing tissue metabolism processes. Tecar works by increasing oxygen in the blood and increasing the transport of nutrients where needed which helps reduce inflammation. An increase in blood circulation to the injured site and increase in the lymphatic system are all natural reactions of the human body after an injury which Tecar can accelerate to quicken healing and reduce pain.
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