The goal of any therapy program is to restore your residents’ bodies to normal, healthy functionality following an injury, accident or lapse in condition. When putting together a treatment plan, you must simultaneously address the symptoms that follow an episode requiring therapy – this includes pain, decreased strength, swelling and a decline in range of motion. While every resident’s unique condition requires an individual plan, a clinical electrical stimulation device is capable of providing relief that can help resolve all of these symptoms.

A clinical electrical stimulation (CES) device converts electricity into a specific waveform for therapeutic delivery. These distinct currents encourage muscle contraction that leads to strengthening, pain reduction, and a vital increase in blood circulation. Integrating electric stimulation therapy into your rehabilitation department can aid your staff in preventing atrophy while providing the optimal therapy equipment for your residents. As you begin to search for the perfect CES for your community, you’ll quickly discover the hundreds of available units on the market today. From TENS to NMES to FES units, we’ve put together this guide to help you find the right electric therapy equipment for your unique community.

What’s the difference between devices?

CES or electrostimulation devices go by many different names. You’ll see common names, like TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation), NMES (NeuroMuscular Electrical Stimulation) and FES (Functional Electrical Stimulation). These names may be used interchangeably, but each of these devices is designed to have a specific physiological effect on the human body:

TENSTranscutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation units are intended for temporary pain relief in sore and aching muscles or symptomatic relief of chronic or acute pain. TENS devices work by sending a string of electrical pulses across the body’s skin and nerve strands. These units have also shown efficacy in releasing endorphins to aid in pain relief.

NMESNeuromuscular Electrical Stimulation machines are intended for relaxing muscle spasms, preventing muscle atrophy, increasing blood circulation, maintaining or increasing range of motion, and reeducating the neuromuscular system. NMES therapy is often used to strengthen and retrain muscle functions after a surgery or lack of use. Neuromuscular Stimulation units can also aid therapists in treating dysphagia

FESFunctional Electrical Stimulation units offer similar benefits to NMES, but FES therapy specifically aids in neurological rehabilitation as the stimulation is automatically controlled to turn muscle contractions into functional movements. A FES device generates body movements for those who may be paralyzed due to Central Nervous System complications.

It is important to carefully examine the exact functionality of a unit you intend to buy, ensuring it fits with your community’s care plan – not all CES devices are created equal!

How many waveforms?

Electrical stimulation therapy machines have various waveforms that affect different aspects of the body and musculature. Therefore, having a CES device that features multiple waveforms and intensity levels is essential to fully addressing the needs of your community. When seeking out the best electrical stimulator, make sure that the device has at least the following waveforms:

Medium Frequency:
  • Interferential current and/or premodulation – used to address pain

Asymmetrical Biphasic:
  • TENS/NMES – used for stimulation of the nerve fibers and muscles

Symmetrical Waveform:
  • VMS – used for muscle strengthening

Monophasic Waveform:
  • High-voltage pulsed current and microcurrent – used to increase circulation in the tissue

What else should I ask?

Once you have a broad idea of the best electrical stimulation unit for your community, the next step is to gain as much information as you can to ensure the device integrates seamlessly into your community. If you plan on purchasing a CES device from Direct Supply, contact us for specific answers to these questions and more:

• What waveforms does the device have in it?

• Can you use multiple waveforms at the same time?

• Who will teach my therapist how to use the device?

• What is the warranty on the device?

• Who do my therapists call with questions?

• Can my therapist try the device for a couple of weeks to see how it fits their practice?

• Can you provide references of other facilities using your device?

Your most important goal is the well-being of your residents – ensuring your therapists have the right equipment on hand will help support the best clinical outcomes for muscle recovery and physical therapy. Direct Supply has the products, resources and expertise to help you with all steps of a new CES device integration. Contact us today!


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