Using Electrical Stimulation to Manage Complications of Diabetes
29.1 million (9.3%) of the US population has diabetes. More than one in four do not know they have the disease. In the United States, 13.4 million (16.2%) people between the ages of 45 – 64 have diabetes. Of those 65 years and older, 11.2 million (25.9%) individuals have diabetes. Diabetes affects multiple parts of the body and causes many complications such as heart disease and stroke, kidney dysfunction, diabetic neuropathy, orthopedic problems, gum disease, and eye disease. About 60% of non-traumatic lower-limb amputations among people aged 20 years or older occur in people with diabetes. Managing blood glucose levels, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and engaging in physical activity can help prevent these complications.1,2
Rehabilitation professionals often treat symptoms associated with diabetes, including weakness, neuropathy, falls, gait abnormalities, and amputations. Electrical stimulation can be helpful in the treatment of these impairments.
Patterned Electrical Neuromuscular Stimulation (PENS), alone or together with aerobic cycling, can help increase circulation, improve strength, decrease disuse atrophy, and improve coordination, thus addressing falls, weakness, and gait.
Motor TENS to acupoints reduces neuropathic pain which may limit the patient's gait and transfer abilities.
Sensory TENS to acupoints on the opposite extremity can be used for phantom limb pain which limits participation in therapy and the ability to wear a prosthesis.
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Diabetes Statistics Report: Estimates of Diabetes and Its Burden in the
United States, 2014. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2014.
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