Diathermy

Q: What kind of patients or conditions benefit from shortwave diathermy therapy?

A: At Kiwi Physical Therapy, we found shortwave diathermy to be particularly effective for the following patients:

  • Patients with musculoskeletal injuries, particularly in the arms and legs.
  • Patients undergoing joint rehabilitation due to joint injury, repair, or reconstruction.

Q: For the right conditions and patients, what are some of the possible benefits?

A: Shortwave diathermy generates greater heat for deeper tissues, promoting faster healing times. It does so via promoting the following cellular processes:

  • Vasodilation – blood vessels dilate, increasing blood flow and expediting the delivery of nutrients and oxygen as well as increasing the removal of waste products
  • Increased enzymatic activity – therapeutic heating increases the rate of enzyme activity, increasing the rate of cellular reactions
  • Increased nerve conductivity – heat increases the velocity of neural processes, leading to reduced pain perception and reduced muscle spasms.

Q: How does shortwave diathermy work?

A: Shortwave Diathermy or electrically induced heating is used to relax and heal damaged tissues. The ReboundTM employs a gradual warming system in which the AC electrical current inside the heating device creates an oscillating electromagnetic field (EMF), which is absorbed by the tissues of the body, causing ions to move and creating friction inside the body’s tissues. Friction generates gradual therapeutic heat (104-113oC), leading to the cellular processes discussed above and faster healing times.

Q: How does shortwave diathermy differ from other forms of heat therapy?

A: Hot packs and wax have been used for years as therapeutic heating devices. While somewhat beneficial, these heating techniques only provide superficial heat. In contrast, shortwave diathermy has been shown to increase deep tissue temperature. Thus, deep tissue cells are subjected to the therapeutic qualities of heat, as oppose to merely superficial tissue cells.

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