Medical Use of Electricity and Magnetism
Should you fracture a bone in an arm or leg, and it fails to heal in 3–6 months, there is a good chance that your orthopedic surgeon will prescribe an energy method called pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) therapy. Your prescription is for a small battery-powered pulse generator (Figure 15.1B) connected to a coil that you will place next to your injury for 8–10 h/day, or you will have an electrical stimulator implanted near the fracture (Figures 15.1C and 15.2). The PEMF device produces a magnetic field that induces currents to flow in nearby tissues.
The idea of jump-starting a healing process is familiar to anyone who has practiced energetic bodywork or movement therapies. It is fascinating to follow the saga of how the energetic approach to bone healing was discovered, accepted as a therapy, rejected, and reinstated by the medical community.
Modern use of energy fields to stimulate bone repair actually began shortly after the discovery of ‘animal electricity’ at the end of the eighteenth century. By the mid-1800s, the preferred method for treating slow-healing fractures was to pass electricity through needles surgically implanted in the fracture region (Figure 15.1A). The technique was banished from medical practice, along with unproven electrotherapies, early in the 1900s (see Chapter 4).
In the 1950s and 1960s, there was a resurgence of medical interest in electric and magnetic therapy. After considerable effort by scientists at a number of research centres (Bassett et al., 1982; Brighton et al., 1981), both electric and magnetic therapy for fracture ‘non-unions’ were granted the ‘safe and effective’ classification by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. To obtain this status, many studies were done to document the success, lack of side effects, and mechanisms of energy field methods.
Not surprisingly, the scientific evidence is that PEMF therapy is effective because it conveys ‘information’ that triggers specific repair activities within the body. The currents induced in tissues by PEMF mimic the natural electrical activities created within bones during movements. Pulsing magnetic fields initiate a cascade of activities, from the cell membrane to the nucleus and on to the gene level, where specific changes take place (Bassett, 1995).
J. Oschman (2016). Chapter 15 – Silent Pulses and Rhythmic Entrainment. Energy Medicine (Second Edition) 2016, Pages 241-267 https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-443-06729-7.00015-6