Monday, August 13, 2012

Ask Us Anything: Is Electric Stimulation Therapy Right for Me?

"I had cancer between my pelvic bone and hip joint. Surgery removed most of my pelvic bone on my left side and part of my hip joint. I need outpatient rehab to regain control of my left leg. Would electric stimulation help me?"

Physical Therapist Richard Szabala Responds:

Electrical Stimulation has many uses in outpatient physical therapy.

It can be used as a source of pain relief, for swelling reduction and for muscle re-education, depending on the settings you apply to your machine.

Pain Relief

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation or TENs is generally used for pain relief. It works by sending signals to your brain to block pain signals.

Swelling Reduction

High Volt Electrical Stimulation can be used for swelling reduction. It works by creating an electrical response in your small blood vessels or capillaries, which allows them to open up more and drain the soft tissue better.

Strengthen Muscles

Functional Electrical Stimulation is used to increase strength in weakened muscles. It works by stimulating the neuro-muscular junction to produce a strong contraction within the muscle. If you sustain the contraction long enough and with several repetitions, it can, in theory, improve muscle strength. It will only work in severely deconditioned muscles (where there is a severe loss of function).

There is some scientific research evidence which supports all forms of electric stimulation listed above, and can be beneficial in a therapy setting.

All of the Catholic Health outpatient rehab facilities can provide electric stimulation as an adjunct to your physical therapy. Click here to find a rehabilitation center near you.

– Richard Szabala PT, OCS

Richard Szabala is the senior physical therapist at AthletiCare Orchard Park.

If you have a question about your health, click here to ask our experts.


  1. There's a NY rehab center which also uses alternative therapeutic methods in helping their outpatients get over through their alcoholic and drug inclination. Having said this, it means the rehabilitation and recovery period could be also performed at home for the patient's own convenience.

  2. Are you talking about TENS (Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation)? As I have read, this electronic device is dedicated for therapeutic purposes. I also read that there is an specialised TENS units that are being used on dental, vaginal and anal stimulation. I just don't know if the dental in perth uses this kind of unit on their daily operation.

  3. Attending to physical therapy treatments were usually due to a physician's recommendation to his/her patients. The main aim of this methodology is to make the recovery process quicker than the usual period with the combined effort of medicinal and therapeutic help, the effect will reflect more positively.

  4. Ιt's enormous that you are getting thoughts from this article as well as from our argument made at this time.

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  5. One of the best ways to recover from an injury, is to enroll and attend to some therapy session to fasten the rehabilitation process of it. Also it could serve as a training process to the injured part of the body.

  6. Pain relief is the main thing to consider when undergoing a therapy. It does hurt but relieving the pain is a welcome experience. I would also consider electric simulation when I am at your place and I hope for your speedy recovery.

  7. Electric stimulation is a must in therapy. Pain is less and recovery can be faster when this is included in the therapy session. The main benefit of this, is that it strengthens our muscles.


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