Musculoskeletal injuries, which are often associated with damage to bones, joints, muscles, ligaments and tendons, are very common among people of all ages. They can occur as a result of an accident, surgery, or simply reduced mobility, especially affecting the older population. Often, these injuries lead to prolonged immobilization, causing a decrease in muscle mass and strength known as “muscle atrophy”. The primary treatments for this condition are physical exercise and electrical therapy.
Electrical stimulation is a widely accepted method for pain control, known to be used already in 63 A.D. in ancient Greece. Greek doctors would sometimes advise their patients to stand on an electrical fish at the seashore to relieve pain. According to StimuHeal, electrical therapies are effective for strengthening muscles, relaxing muscle spasms, and improving muscle tone – reducing edema and enhancing the patients’ blood flow. The scientists say their devices rely on neuromuscular electric stimulation (NMES), a well-recognized technique that uses electrical currents to stimulate peripheral nerves to produce a sensory, motor or noxious response.
The first product StimuHeal plans to release is the “MyoSpare” – a device that minimizes muscle atrophy and muscle spasms by continuously stimulating the muscles. The MyoSpare is a compact, battery-powered device that operates in conjunction with StimuHeal’s DuraLect electrodes, which can be applied anywhere on the skin, close to the area where muscle activity is limited. The company’s scientists say that the product’s main advantage is that it can operate not only on exposed areas, but can also stimulate muscles located under splints, braces, and even protective casts.
The patented DuraLect electrodes were developed by the company especially for long-term use in situations when frequent replacement of electrodes is not feasible, such as under-cast stimulation. These electrodes are very thin and are coated with biocompatible gel in order to minimize rashes or other possible reactions of sensitive skin. According to the company, their unique design ensures consistent electrical transmission, making it possible to use the product for longer periods of time without having to regularly replace the electrodes.
MyoSpare allows the patient to self-adjust the intensity of stimulation and can operate smoothly over a period of weeks without causing muscle fatigue. StimuHeal says that this kind of electrical stimulation can not only significantly reduce the development of immobilization-induced muscle atrophy, but can also prevent this condition from occurring in the first place. The MyoSpare also includes a built-in monitor, which records cumulative treatment time and the intensities applied throughout the period of use.
StimuHeal is currently focusing on developing more specialized NMES-based devices, which they say could be used as adjunct therapy in association with a large number of orthopedic conditions, including various fractures and tears.
TFOT has previously covered a number of innovative technologies aimed at the health care industry, ranging from biosensors and smart fabrics that can monitor physiological signs, to a new method for killing dividing cells using an electrical field, developed at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology.
More information about StimuHeal’s devices can be found on the company’s official website.