Intensive Tools: NMES
Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation (NMES)
NMES uses a device that sends electrical impulses to nerves to allow muscles to contract. This is a great Intensive Therapy tool for kids who have difficulty isolating muscles or difficulty understanding what muscle to activate; it acts as an increased sensory response to increase awareness.
Every day, our body uses electrical pulses
in the nervous system to communicate between the brain and muscles to activate or accomplish tasks. Kiddos with neuromuscular disorders typically have difficulty with this electrical communication, which is where NMES comes in! The therapist will apply sticky electrodes on the skin over muscles they want to target with electrical stimulation, helping facilitate activation of those muscles. The electrical stimulator causes a tingling feeling to the muscles, giving the kiddos a cue of when to use them and which muscles are being activated for certain activities or movements.
This technique has been researched in kids with CP and found to increase muscle fiber length and muscle size, which increases strength, range of motion, and functional use. Our therapists often use NMES on the core for trunk strengthening as well as in the lower extremities, especially paired while walking to allow it to be done in a functional environment (functional electrical stimulation).
Increases strength and functional use
Alternating current helps with walking
Improves muscle isolation and activation
Acts as an increased sensory response to increase awareness
Helps to increase muscle fiber length and muscle size
Increases range of motion
Improves flexibility and movement
Facilitates muscle activation
Helps to "re-train" muscle function