Imagine being trapped in a body that can’t complete basic daily functions — like leaning over to tie your shoe or feed yourself. Spinal muscular atrophy is a disease that affects the motor nerve cells in the spinal cord. This causes the individual’s physical strength to tremendously suffer, making it difficult (or impossible) to do things like walk, eat, and even breathe. There are four main types: 1, 2, 3, and 4. The type is based on the age when the symptoms begin, as well as the biggest physical milestone that the individual can achieve (or put differently, the severity of the symptoms).
Your muscles can start to atrophy over time if you don’t put them to use. So, if you’re very inactive — or if, for example, you’ve been bedridden for any reason — you might experience muscle atrophy. However, in these cases, it’s usually reversible with the right nutrition and exercise habits.
Let’s shift to a different type of muscle atrophy.
Muscle atrophy causes are complex matters, but generally speaking, it comes down to a mutation in the SMN1 — the survival motor neuron gene 1. There ends up being a protein missing that is vital to the function of nerves that control our muscles. In its absence, the nerve cells can’t do their job and eventually die. This is ultimately what causes muscle weakness in people with spinal muscular atrophy.
This type of muscle atrophy happens in about one in 11,000 births. Roughly one in 50 Americans is a genetic carrier.
While there’s currently no cure for spinal muscle atrophy, research is ongoing. And, at the very least, there are ways we can try to manage it.
Treatment for spinal muscular atrophy includes gene therapy and medication. However, there’s another option that can be an excellent supplement to SMA treatment: electric muscle stimulation.
How to Help Spinal Muscular Atrophy With PowerDot
Electric muscle stimulation can’t do anything to address genes or the missing protein. However, as it targets muscle tissue, what role might it play in helping people with muscle atrophy?
While more research is needed, study findings thus far are promising, suggesting that electric muscle stimulation may be an effective add-on to traditional SMA therapy. When combined with other types of treatment, it could help produce more significant improvements in muscle strength and performance.
What Science Says So Far
For example, one study published in Case Reports in Neurological Medicine found that “a multimodal approach based on electrotherapy and cycling exercise may be well tolerated and may improve motor performance in SMA patients…”
In other words, a therapy program that combines both electric muscle stimulation and the proper kind of physical activity may offer a powerful and effective combination to treat SMA, compared to only physical activity on its own.
Research examining EMS and spinal muscular atrophy in particular seems to be a bit scarce. However, science has seemingly said more about using electric muscle stimulation to treat muscle atrophy, in general, and the conclusions are inspiring.
One study published in the Journal of Cachexia, Sarcopenia and Muscles reviewed a variety of data and ultimately concluded that electric muscle stimulation is a “safe therapeutic intervention.” It can help to stimulate the regeneration capacity of satellite cells — which are the precursors to skeletal muscle cells.
Furthermore, electric muscle stimulation can counteract fast type muscle fiber atrophy, especially when it’s associated with sarcopenia (the loss of muscle mass and function).
More specifically, the study pointed to research that found that EMS can increase muscle mass by approximately 1% and improve muscle function by about 10-15% after roughly five to six weeks of treatment.
An electric muscle stimulation device, like PowerDot, may make a smart addition to (but not a replacement for) other types of muscle atrophy therapy, like exercise training. Used regularly and over time, individuals might notice improved muscle strength and function.
While science has possibly only scratched the surface when it comes to the use of EMS to treat muscle atrophy, it’s emerging as a reliable and encouraging alternative to atrophy management.
Why Electrical Muscle Stimulation Can Help Offset the Symptoms of Muscle Atrophy
To better comprehend why electric muscle stimulation can have an impact on muscle atrophy, it helps to understand exactly what EMS does to the body, along with the impact it brings.
PowerDot acts by sending electrical impulses to your muscles, thus causing them to contract. That’s why when you see people using something like PowerDot, it’s almost like their muscles are twitching. This effect offers a number of benefits.
It improves blood circulation and speeds up healing and recovery, particularly reducing muscle soreness. Additionally, it can help prevent future injuries. EMS is also an effective way to warm up your muscles before exercising or simply if you’ve been sitting for extended periods of time and need help waking your muscles up (for instance, if you’re in the middle of or have just reached the end of a long flight).
Importantly, electric muscle stimulation improves muscle strength and endurance, which is another reason why more and more athletes are carrying PowerDot in their gym bag and using it both during training and while at rest.
But could it go far beyond athletes and trainers? Yes.
If electric muscle stimulation targets the muscles to improve their overall performance, strength, and general health, it stands to reason that people suffering from muscle atrophy (among other conditions, like multiple sclerosis) can benefit from the application of EMS. It can’t remedy matters of protein in nerve cells, but it can aid the muscles in fighting the outcome of atrophy — weakness and loss of control.
While spinal muscular atrophy is a complicated disease that needs to be addressed and managed under the guidance of a medical professional, electrical stimulation devices like PowerDot are a powerful addition to treatment and therapy programs. If you’re battling muscle atrophy, talk to your health professional about how PowerDot can help you.
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