Selecting a Microcurrent Device What To Look For
This brief essay is intended to help professionals who want to get
involved with the practice of microcurrent therapy and microcurrent electro-acupuncture
in wading through the often confusing information encountered when investigating
this subject. It is well worth it taking the time to understand and
act on this information, as microcurrent electro-therapy is a highly effective
and rewarding clinical method that can help resolve a wide range of challenging
patient conditions. Your choice of appropriate equipment is vital
in deriving these benefits.
By its very nature, electro-therapy tends to be difficult to understand
for most health professionals. Few have training in electronic theory and
parameters, physics or the Universal Laws of energy that clinical success
or failure are based on. Most manufacturers of clinical stimulation devices
offer little or no training and instruction. What is offered is based
on simplistic and relatively limited and ineffective techniques of application.
I'm sure that the intentions of the people who write electro-therapy training
manuals is to keep the information as simple as possible, but the vast
majority of the instructions given consist of placing electrodes right
over locally painful zones and stimulating these with currents that are
usually way too strong for optimal response. While this is a simple concept
to grasp, this is not what usually leads to superior clinical results.
Microcurrent devices are those that output therapeutic currents regulated
in the millionth of an amp, or microcurrent, range. The success and popularity
of microcurrent electro-therapies are based on frequently superior patient
responses. This is due to the fact that most of the human body's
innate electrical activity occurs in the pico (trillionths) and nano (billionths)
of an amp range, and in some cases reaches the microamp range. Readjustment
of these extremely subtle fields is better accomplished with currents that
are just slightly higher than the innate currents.
Higher intensity milliamp currents, which are regulated in the thousandths
of an amp range, are what are output by most electro-therapy devices.
Milliamp stimulation is truly an 'overkill' response for most patients,
although it may be appropriate for some acute conditions presenting muscle
spasm, gross edema and severe pain. Even when milliamps are useful,
it is advisable to immediately follow with sub-sensational microcurrents
to ease the body down from the distortions induced by the high intensity
current intervention. Therefore look for a device that offers both
milliamps and microamps. For greatest convenience and effectiveness,
it should offer milliamps and microamps in sequence, which is most clinically
useful for acute conditions. This would allow you to give a patient brief
milliamp treatment followed by a longer period of microcurrents, preferably
without you having to come back to the treatment room to change parameters.
There are two main interfaces used to apply microcurrents to the body
- probe electrodes and pad electrodes. Probe electrodes have very
small contact points, and so are ideal for stimulation of trigger and acu-points.
Quality devices also allow location ( search ) of acu-points through a
probe system using an ohmmeter feedback system. We have found many
of the most impressive results with microcurrent therapies to be with specific
point stimulation. It is far better to purchase a microcurrent device
that has a well-crafted dual probe system that allows two points to be
stimulated at the same time, and allows for accurate searching and location
of low-resistance points.
Look for a device with both a visual and audible feedback system for
probe therapies. The visual meter is most useful when you can read
the specific scale from 0 - 100, rather than just a sound or row of LED
indicators. This allows for accurate point location as well as energetic
evaluation through electronic meridian testing.
As a whole-body treatment system, microcurrent therapy is often
advantageously applied to multiple body areas at the same time. Ideally,
probe and pad treatments should be simultaneously available as needed.
Superior devices have four output channels to allow for this flexibility
of treatment. One of the most useful styles of pad treatments is
called interferential electro-therapy. This is a four-pad set-up,
with each set of two pads set to slightly different frequencies.
Interferential currents have the advantage of broader and deeper penetration
into the target tissues of the body. It takes two output channels
of your device to create one interferential pattern. A four-channel
unit will allow for two of these four-pad set-ups, which is frequently
called upon in clinical practice. Some examples would be treatment
of both knees, neck and back injuries treated together, peripheral neuropathy,
or simultaneous treatment of two or more patients.
One of the most severe drawbacks to many microcurrent stimulators is
lack of control over current polarity. The Law of Polarity is a universal
principle of physics that requires effective energy stimulation to the
human body to be accord with its natural polarization. In my teaching
career, I have found that the in the majority of times practitioners have
reported clinical failures or aggravations to me, the Law of Polarity was
not being followed in electrode placements. Again, in an attempt
to simplify the use of electro-therapy, many manufacturers have only offered
fixed biphasic (alternating polarity) currents. Such currents are
appropriate for local dispersion of energetically blocked areas, but are
not very effective for disorders of the extremities, acupuncture meridian
treatment and balancing, neuropathies and headaches. In these cases,
properly polarized treatment currents are essential. I do not recommend
the purchase of any microcurrent device that lacks adjustable polarity.
One of the factors clinicians must deal with in applying any form of
stimulation to the body is accommodation. This is the tendency of
the body to quickly adapt, and thereby tune out, any repetitive input.
This is what happens in a noisy restaurant - you rapidly cease to be as
aware of the backround noise. If some unusual and new sound reaches
your ears, however, you will again sit up and take notice, as it is a departure
from the drone you have accommodated to. This new sound that grabs your
attention is a form of modulation, or disruption of repetition. This
principle is important to understand in the practice of electro-therapies
as well. Most microcurrent devices only offer repetitive currents.
Once a frequency and intensity is selected, that will continue for the
length of the treatment. As just explained, the body is likely to
accommodate, thereby rendering most of the treatment ineffective.
This factor is less of an issue with brief probe treatments, but very significant
in pad treatments of several minutes or more. I suggest purchasing
a device that offers several types of current modulations that helps prevent
accommodation. There are several valuable modulation patterns, some
better for acute conditions, and some better for sensitive, chronic patients.
EASE OF USE/PRESETS:
As you can see from reading this far, there are a lot of variables
to understand in applying effective microcurrent treatment. You may be
a technophobe who does not want to delve that deeply into study of electronic
parameters and how to select them for each clinical presentation.
The good news is that some devices exist that can be programmed very simply
through presets. The microprocessor technology of superior devices
allows a clinically effective set of parameters, including correct frequency,
polarity, intensity, modulation, waveform, etc., to be selected with a
single action, such as pressing a button. Look for a device that
offers a broad range of preset treatment protocols, yet also allows you
to customize the presets if you want. As your skill and confidence
grows, you will probably want to be able to set up your own presets or
alter those programmed by the manufacturer.
High quality modern electro-therapy devices are based on digital microprocessor
design. As we all know, such technology is subject to upgrades and
reprogramming. It is vital that you ask any salesperson wanting to
sell you a microcurrent device how easy it is to upgrade the device when
changes occur. Advanced devices may also have a com port for
connection to PCs, which open s up many possibilities of recordkeeping,
evaluation and more.
TRAINING AND SUPPORT:
Finally, one of the most important factors in this discussion is the
amount and quality of support and training you will receive from the company
selling you your device. As mentioned earlier, few companies have
the knowledge or inclination to adequately train people purchasing electro-therapy
devices from them. In most cases, the salesperson has only a sketchy
knowledge themselves, and once his or her commission has been earned, is
not inclined or able to continue the learning relationship. Ask any salesperson
wishing to sell you a microcurrent device exactly what kind of training
program his company offers, especially after the sale is completed. Good
training materials, personal support, access to help and ongoing seminars
and briefings are of tremendous value.
RETURN ON INVESTMENT (ROI):
The combination of a versatile device with the features suggested above
and a comprehensive training and support program will go a long way to
ensure your clinical and business success. This is potentially worth
thousands of dollars to you in increased revenues through greater clinical
successes and the resulting new patient referrals.
Although you may initially pay more for a superior device with an extensive
training program, this difference will come back to you many, many times
over, and is truly a smart investment rather than an expense. In fact,
investment of money and time into acquiring and learning to use a quality
microcurrent stimulator is an excellent example of business leverage.
If you have any questions or comments about this essay, you may email
me at: email@example.com.