Patterned electrical neuromuscular stimulation


by Mark Weber

I have been using a PENS unit 3 times a week for several months. PENS stands for "Patterned Electrical Neuromuscular Stimulation".

The inventor of PENS took EMG readings from various muscle groups in "normal" people while they were using the muscles. For instance, he took EMG readings from the 2 major lower leg muscles as people walked.

He then determined the average firing rate and intensity for each of the 2 major lower leg muscles during walking. He also determined the pattern of firing of the 2 muscles–how long and at what intensities during the time the calf muscle fires before it releases and the muscle in the front of the lower leg fires. What intensity and for how long does that muscle fire? What is the pattern of firing of the muscles of the lower leg?

With the answers to those questions, a unit was created to send electrical impulses to the 2 major muscles of the lower leg in the same pattern as found in the average walking person.

My PT simply increases the amount of electrical current going to my muscles (via electrical sticky pads) to the highest amount that I can tolerate comfortably, and my lower leg "walks" normally for a 20 minute period per session.

I have noticed a reduction in spasticity in my lower leg and ankle, as well as far fewer lower leg cramps since I started using PENS. Coupled with a solid PT program, my walking has improved somewhat. I intend to continue PENS and PT until the summer, when my kids are home from school, & I won’t have the time to go to therapy.

Saturday, September 8th, 2012