How Does Electrical Muscle Stimulation Work?

How Does Electrical Muscle Stimulation Work?
How Does Electrical Muscle Stimulation Work? (Image:

What is NMES?

Electric muscle stimulation, known as Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation (NMES), is the process in which muscle tone and strength is restored to those going through physical therapy. NMES allows those in physical therapy, who otherwise would not be able to exercise in the usual manner, still develop muscle tone by using electrical muscle contraction.

How the Machinary Works

The NMES machine works by conducting electrical currents from the machine to the muscle at a safe current rate. The process starts by placing self-adhesive electrodes to the motor points of the desired muscle or muscle system. The dial on the machine is slowly adjusted until the patient can feel the current passing through the skin and into the muscle. The higher the setting on the dial, the faster the muscle will contract and relax. This process is continued for a varied amount of time dependent on how large of muscle the NMES is trying to stimulate.

How Muscles Normally Work

In most people, muscles tone and strength are developed through exercising the muscle physically. The process starts by the brain sending a signal through the spinal cord and to the nerves of the muscle. This signal tells the muscles to expand or contract. As the muscles continue to expand and contract, the tissue begins to break down. Once your body stops contracting the muscle, it will automatically start building the muscle tissue back up. The muscle will also make the tissue stronger to better face contractions in the future.

How Muscles Work Using NMES

With NMES, instead of your brain sending a signal to your muscles through the spinal cord, the NMES machine electrically stimulates the nerves attached to the muscle at the motor point. Once the nerves are stimulated, they cause the muscle to expand and contract, much in the same way as conventional exercise. This allows those who are unable to exercise in the traditional manner still gain greater strength and muscle mass.

Reasons to Use Electrical Muscle Stimulation

NMES can be used for a variety of reasons including increasing blood circulations to the muscle, relaxing muscle spasms, prevention of muscle atrophy in patients unable to use parts of their body, prevention of venous thrombosis after surgery, and increasing range of motion.

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