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Enhancing Muscle Activation: The Benefits of Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation for Hip and Shoulder Strengthening

I have been using electrical stimulation in Physical Therapy for at least 20 years. It has helped so many of my patients for the multiple uses it has. I have used it with patients after spinal cord injuries, post-surgical for knees, backs, hips, and shoulders, as well as for back pain with pregnancy, and retraining weak muscles (especially of the shoulder and hip).

There are different types of electrical stimulation: IFC; interferential current, Direct current, TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Stimulation) and NMES (Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation) to name a few. I have used all types on myself. I have found healing in back and neck pain after a head-on car collision and used it for my lower back during 30 hours of delivery while being induced. I am surprised that some Physical Therapists do not use it and many patients have not learned of it as well. It is well supported in the research literature and used in many Physical Therapy clinics around the world.

The great aspect of the use of NMES is that there are over-the-counter devices that you can buy and use at home or in the gym. See my website shop for one device that I recommend. Before you buy, check with your Physician and Physical Therapist if you may have any contraindications to using electrical stimulation. These may include, fractures, burns, skin lesions, systemic vascular impairment diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus, thromboembolic disease, deep vein thrombosis (which was not therapeutically anticoagulated for more than 36 hours), lower limb amputations, cardiac pacemaker, other.

The use of NMES for shoulders and hips can get you back to your activity or sport faster and meet your other recovery needs. Kevin Wilk, et al stated, "It can be used post-surgery with the shoulder to decrease hemarthrosis through muscle pumping, prevents muscle shutdown by improving rotator cuff activation, and decreases postoperative pain. " Not only after surgery but with nonoperative muscle strains or degenerative changes, NMES helps you lessen pain while you strengthen. If you improve the muscle activation of the rotator cuff, it helps establish normal shoulder mechanics and restore range of motion.

I have seen faster recovery from weak and painful hips with the use of NMES. I have worked with patients that were so weak, that in prone if you bent their knee, the leg would roll to the side without control. Then with using NMES with manual and home exercises, strength would return and pain improved or resolved.

NMES is one of many tools used in Physical therapy. If you are ready to begin Physical Therapy, contact me through my website or call (971) 719-3162 to schedule an appointment.

Karen Baltz Gibbs, PT, DPT, CSCS, CMP, LMT, Owner of Garage Training & Rehab Gym

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