For clarity purposes the term “ES” or “Estim” is a generic declaration of an external device in most cases, that produces a flow of electrons from one electrode to the other of the same channel. The flow of the electrons produces an ionic reaction in the body in the areas between the electrodes, in most cases motor nerves and muscle tissue.
The most common use of a specific form of ES with multiple sclerosis patients is the term “Functional Electrical Stimulation”, or FES. This is a form of estim where one stimulates motor nerves, at the same time as attempting to move mentally. The breaching of the gap between movement and the brain’s message to move is preserved or restored. The FES process is accomplished with voluntary repeated movement assisted by functional stimulation.
It gets confusing discussing electrical stimulation when one discusses the “flow of electrons” as that is a good description of electricity, but once the flow goes to the body, then it’s a reactive response. Technically from entry into the body one gets what is called “ionic” reaction. That simply is the cells/molecules in the body start losing/gaining electrons and that is what is changing the chemistry of the body.
A quicker method of accomplishing functional electrical stimulation would be to use “medium frequency Infrex interferential stimulation” with volitional movement at the same time. Typical FES applications involve multiple daily sessions ( 5 – 15), for 10 – 20 minutes whereas “functional stimulation” protocols are 1- 2x daily for 15 minutes at maximum output. Functional stimulation is designed to also increase muscle bulk and strength.
The reference to “healing decubitus ulcers” ( bed sores ) is generally a form of estim known as “pulsed galvanic stimulation”, or “high voltage”. This particular form of electrical stimulation involves interrupted direct current ( DC ) charges. The process of tissue generation is created by the choice of either positive or negative currents. The current is 100% positive or negative but it only is administered for brief moments of time so as to not cause any injury during the treatment process.
The “reduce spasticity” can be accomplished by using FES to fatigue the muscle(s) however most studies fail to then continue to use estim for extended time periods to avoid future spasticity. This accomplished by “interferential therapy” over night for 6 – 12 hours either sensory or subsensory. The process of constant, low amperage stimulation of muscles stops spasticity. Spasticity should be prevented, not treated.
The below article cited is a very good summary article written by J. M. Campbell, Ph.D, P.T. explaining some of the electrical stimulation results for multiple sclerosis patients. This field of electrical stimulation coupled with functional movement and exercise has great promise for MS patients as well as other patients suffering autoimmune type diseases.
You can go here to see the article and the research done in the field of electricity and the improved health of patients suffering from multiple sclerosis.