Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation

What is electrical stimulation?

Electrical Stimulation (“e-stim”) is the application of electrical impulses to a muscle or muscle group stimulating their contraction. Neuromuscular electrical stimulation can be used to prevent atrophy of a muscle or muscle group. Transcutaneous electrical stimulation aids in pain management.

What is the history of electrical stimulation in veterinary medicine?

Historically electricity, specifically electrical muscle stimulators, has been used for physical rehabilitation since the mid 18th century.The practice evolved and in the mid 20th century e-stim was shown to aid in the prevention of muscle atrophy and loss of muscle mass. Since then electrical stimulation has become increasingly common in the field of physical rehabilitation for both humans and animals.

On which types of animals is electrical stimulation practiced?

Originally e-stim was used primarily for human orthopedic and neurological rehabilitation. It has also become common in equine rehabilitation and has developed into a staple of both canine and feline rehabilitation.

What conditions are most often treated with electrical stimulation?

E-stim is used most commonly in orthopedic or neurological injuries and disease. Patients recovering from orthopedic surgery, fracture repair, spinal cord injury, and other neurological and orthopedic issues may benefit from electrical stimulation. E-stim may also be used to aid in pain management or to help reduce swelling or edema.

How can my pet benefit from electrical stimulation?

A pet that is unable to begin use of their limb immediately for a variety of reasons may be prescribed several sessions of electrical stimulation. This therapy will help your pet maintain their muscle mass during the period of time in which they are unable to use their limb, or should not, by recommendation of a veterinarian. E-stim can also help with joint mobility, circulation, increased muscle strength and pain management.

How successful is electrical stimulation?

Electrical stimulation is effective in increasing muscle mass, strength, and overcoming muscle reflex inhibition. E-stim has also been a successful therapy for pain management. The elimination of pain is important so that your pet is able to progress within the prescribed treatment plan. As with all modalities, it is important to follow your veterinarian’s recommendations both for the frequency of the electrical stimulation therapy, as well as the complimentary therapies prescribed. Adherence to these recommendations will help achieve optimal results from this particular treatment in the rehabilitation process.

How safe is electrical stimulation?

At Companion Animal Medical Center a veterinarian will review your pet’s medical history to determine if e-stim would be an appropriate modality to consider in their rehabilitation therapy plan. Electrical stimulation is safe when practiced by a trained therapist; the therapist will carefully establish the safest and most comfortable level of e-stim for your pet in their initial sessions.

Can electrical stimulation be combined with other types of veterinary medicine?

Electrical stimulation can be combined with other types of therapy and often is a part of a larger rehabilitation program. E-stim is most commonly used at the start of rehabilitation programs as a means to strengthen muscles that have atrophied or are not in use, for pain, or for swelling. In general, e-stim integrates well into a treatment plan that utilizes either traditional or alternative forms of veterinary medicine.