Weak Signal - BIG RESPONSE
Mac Stein, PT
|Various HealFast Models|
The application of various forms of Pulsed ElectroMagnetic Field (PEMF) to living tissues for therapeutic purposes is older than antibiotics. Early reports were met with ridicule. Over the past 3 decades a considerable volume of published, well-designed research has solidified the knowledge base for how PEMF generated outside the body by a weak radio frequency (RF) signal is capable of influencing molecules, cells and tissue in favorably treating a wide variety of soft tissue injuries and conditions. As it is making the transition from complementary to evidence-based medicine, PEMF therapy is still misunderstood by the majority of health professionals and the public.
This article is an attempt to explain the basic science behind this technology and its clinical applications. In subsequent articles a more detailed explanation of this therapy box tool and its potential will open a window into the emerging science of bioelectromagnetics. How does electromagnetic vaccination or medication delivery sound? It may be in our near future.
When a signal (current) is run through a conductor, an electromagnetic field (EMF) is created around the conductor. If the current is constant - DC current – the EMF is static, or not pulsing. If the current is pulsed – the EMF is pulsed at the same frequency. It is the pulsed interaction of the magnetic field and the electric field that creates the biological therapeutic effect. Permanent and stationary magnets (those polarized discs that are held against the skin with wraps or bandages) do not generate an electromagnetic field, regardless of which pole is facing the body part. Stationary magnets may work, but none of the biological effects documented for PEMF have been documented for stationary magnets. Most of PEMF research is done with weak radio frequency (RF) signal, many powers weaker than a cell phone emits. Weak means both low intensity and low frequency, often called ELF – Extremely Low Frequency PEMF. As a rule, low frequency offers deeper penetration into the tissues as compared to high frequency. This term may be confusing as the RF signal has a relatively high frequency – usually 27.12 MHz – but the rate at which it is being pulsed is what qualifies it as a low frequency. The body has its own variety of internal electromagnetic fields that influence growth, maturation and repair. Injury is associated with a change of these endogenous EMFs. It is believed that one of the effects of PEMF therapy devices is to bring those innate EMFs back to normal to speed up healing. Whether it does it by putting energy into the cells or by providing information to molecules will be addressed in the next article, which will also cover the essentials of PEMF therapy for equine soft tissue injuries.
PEMF has various applications in industry, military, electronics and medicine. There are various PEMF therapy devices on the market. Not all use the same signal or signal parameters, not all are safe, some are both dangerous and ridiculously expensive, and some make false claims based on research done with a totally different signal. The trend in both research and therapy has been toward weak signal devices, free of side effects, safe, user-friendly and very affordable. The bulky diathermy machines of the past are now wearable and light units for personal use away from the clinic, battery powered and very inexpensive. They are also targeted: have to be positioned over the injured tissue, rather than a whole body treatment. The effect is localized.
Most academic institutes have reliable online information on the electromagnetic spectrum. This spectrum houses a variety of signals of various wave lengths that have therapeutic properties: RF, microwave, laser, ultrasound and shockwave. Each one of them poses a health risk when improperly used. It is safe to say that weak RF is the most versatile yet safe therapeutic signal on the electromagnetic spectrum. This may be the time to mention that Eastern Europe has been using therapeutic microwave signals extensively in its hospitals, with volumes of research that has never been translated to English. HealFast is the animal label of a human weak PEMF therapy unit that has FDA clearance for the control of swelling and pain following facial plastic surgery. It belongs with a small group of battery-powered PEMF devices designed specifically for treating soft tissue acute injuries and/or chronic conditions such as arthritis. It is being prescribed and used off-label by orthopedists, plastic surgeons, rheumatologists, podiatrists, gynecologist, physical therapists, chiropractors and athletic trainers. These clinicians have come to realize the therapeutic potential of PEMF and integrated it seamlessly into the overall treatment plan of their patients. Veterinary Medicine is also being re-introduced to PEMF therapy. Rapid control of pain, swelling and inflammation is often associated with reduced need for NSAIDs. One would be surprised at the relationship between weak PEMF therapy and procedures such as PRP and IRAP. Stay tuned. More information for you and for your veterinarian and your health care provider may be found at www.msteinpt.com
Mac Stein is a registered physical therapist specializing in orthopedic manual therapy and equine therapy. Mac is also a non pro rider showing reined cowhorses.
Top of Page