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Effect of early implementation of electrical muscle stimulation to prevent muscle atrophy and weakness in patients after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction

updated

Tags: electrotherapy, devices, treatment

Two articles on PainSci cite Hasegawa 2011: (1) The Complete Guide to Muscle Strains(2) Zapped! Does TENS work for pain?

PainSci notes on Hasegawa 2011:

This was test of electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) for rehabilitation after knee surgery. Twenty patients had acute anterior cruciate ligament tears repaired. Half of them got EMS after surgery, and half did not. “Muscle thickness of vastus lateralis and calf increased significantly 4 weeks after surgery in the EMS group, while it decreased significantly in the control group. The decline of knee extension strength was significantly less in the EMS group than in the CON group at 4 weeks after the surgery, and the EMS group showed greater recovery of knee extension strength at 3 months after surgery.” The anti-atrophy effect of EMS was not dramatic, but it was clear.

original abstract Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.

OBJECTIVE: Following anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction, restricted weight bearing and immobilization results in thigh and calf muscle atrophy and weakness. The purpose of this study was to assess the effect of electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) on prevention of muscle atrophy in patients during the early rehabilitation stage after ACL reconstruction.

METHODS: Twenty patients with acute ACL tears were divided into two groups randomly. The control group (CON group) participated in only the usual rehabilitation program. In addition to this protocol, the electrical muscle stimulation group (EMS group) received EMS training using the wave form of 20 Hz exponential pulse from the 2nd post-operative day to 4 weeks after the surgery.

RESULTS: Muscle thickness of vastus lateralis and calf increased significantly 4 weeks after surgery in the EMS group, while it decreased significantly in the CON group. The decline of knee extension strength was significantly less in the EMS group than in the CON group at 4 weeks after the surgery, and the EMS group showed greater recovery of knee extension strength at 3 months after surgery.

CONCLUSIONS: EMS implemented during the early rehabilitation stage is effective in maintaining and increasing muscle thickness and strength in the operated limb.

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