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10 Must Have Devices for Your Practice

A review of the most popular electromagnetic devices, from ease of use to patient satisfaction.

Physical medicine and rehabilitation is an exciting and very dynamic field for those of us directly involved in patient care. Part of what makes this branch of medicine particularly attractive for prospective students/practitioners is the emerging technology, which infuses this subspecialty with some interesting treatment options. I have chosen 10 of the most popular devices used in clinical practice to review.

Selection Criteria

This report will focus on those technologies I have experience with via clinical testing and/or daily patient use. The items selected have been reviewed based on the following criteria: strength of treatment (average treatment effect), ease of treatment (patient/provider hassle factor), patient adherence (acceptance), existing research base, and cost effectiveness.

Each of these criteria has been assigned a score between 1 and 10 (Table 1). I hope this type of informal descriptive exercise is of benefit to readers who might be exploring the idea of incorporating the various forms of electromagnetic therapies into their practices. This is a completely unscientific review, meaning, we did not perform a comparative effectiveness study of each technology. This article provides evaluations of each of these devices based on both formal and informal assessments. The primary aim was to identify the top 10 technologies of the new millennium.

I hope this summary of contemporary electromagnetic therapies is helpful to readers who might be searching for conservative techniques in the treatment of pain. I chose to apply a very liberal definition of electromagnetic therapy, including devices in which electromagnetic is either propagated or generated directly and those that cause activation of the natural biological currents that exist from cell to cell and tissue to tissue. In both types of scenarios, there is an electromagnetic component in the biological field that action potentials create and that is exchanged within the extracellular matrix.

This device summary did not have as an intent, the endorsement of one treatment type over another, or the recommendation of a specific brand of device. I did include brand-specific pictures so readers can get an idea of what some of these technologies might look like, but they do not represent a product-specific endorsement, and readers should know that most of these products are made by various manufacturing companies around the globe.

With the exception of the H-wave device, which is proprietary, all other products represent technology categories. Readers are encouraged to sample different brands.

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Last updated on: December 16, 2015
First published on: October 1, 2014