What Is Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation?

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Neuromuscular electrical stimulation is a type of therapy that can be used to prevent

atrophy of a muscle or muscle group. It works when electrical impulses are applied to a muscle

or muscle group to stimulate their contraction. Electrical muscle stimulation has been used for

physical rehabilitation for centuries. It was first used in the mid-eighteenth century and in the

mid-twentieth century it was shown to help prevent muscle atrophy and loss of muscle mass.

Electrical stimulation was originally used in orthopedic and neurological rehabilitation in human

patients and was then developed to be used in equine, canine, and feline rehabilitation.

Neuromuscular electrical stimulation works on the patient through “leads and flexible, …show more content…

Neuromuscular electrical stimulation helps

animals rehabilitate and it is recommended to use while the patient is under anesthesia.


Based on research, it seems that neuromuscular electrical stimulation is not used in small

animal anesthesia. However, anesthesia is recommended when an animal patient undergoes

neuromuscular electrical stimulation. The patient is anesthetized with inhalant 1.3% isoflurane.

The patient should remain anesthetized throughout the neuromuscular electrical stimulation

session. Before starting the session, a tow pinch should be performed to ensure that the animal

patient is fully anesthetized. While the animal patient is under anesthesia, the patient should be

checked regularly and adjusted as needed to ensure that the anesthetic depth is correct. The

animal patient should be placed in lateral recumbency. Lubricant should be applied to the eye to

prevent the cornea from drying during the procedure. The patient’s hind limb area should be

shaved and the skin cleaned with alcohol. Before the electrodes or pads are placed on the animal

patient, the “electrode should be wiped with 3% bleach, and then rinsed with water” …show more content…

Contraindications for neuromuscular electrical stimulation include “treatment over heart

or cardiac pacemakers, over areas of peripheral vascular disease or thrombophlebitis, over areas

of decreased pain and/or temperature sensation, over an infection, over neoplasms, and over the

carotid sinus” (Bassert, Thomas & McCurnin, 2014). Neuromuscular electrical stimulation

should not be used on animal patients that suffer from seizure diseases, animal patients that are

pregnant, and animal patients that may have malignant tumors. If neuromuscular electrical

stimulation is applied over heart or cardiac pacemakers, the electromagnetic field from the

stimulation can interfere with the pacemaker and may cause the pacemaker to fail.

Thrombophlebitis is the venous clotting and inflammation that may or may not be accompanied

by an infection. Neuromuscular electrical stimulation is contraindicated in thrombophlebitis

because the “strong muscle contractions induced by the stimulation device can dislodge a

thrombus, a blood clot that forms in a vessel and remains there, and possibly cause death”

(Johnson, 2014). Using neuromuscular electrical stimulation over neoplasms is

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