Historically, as far back as 1890, the American Electro-Therapeutic Association conducted annual conferences on the therapeutic use of electricity and electrical devices by physicians on ailing patients. Some involved current flow through the patient, while others were electrically powered devices. At first, only direct current (DC) devices were utilized in the medical doctor’s office for relieving pain.
The modern clinical application of electro-biology in North America began in 1971 when Friedenberg described their success in the healing of a nonunion fracture treated with 10 micro amps of direct current delivered with stainless steel electrodes. Avoiding the invasive nature of Friedenberg’s direct currents, Dr. Andrew Bassett at Columbia University Medical Center introduced a new approach for the treatment of non-healing bone fractures and pseudarthroses that employed very specific, biphasic low frequency electromagnetic signals. Public awareness also increased in the mid-1970s amidst reports of successful enhancement of the speed and endurance of racehorses treated with electromagnetic fields. Based on the published work of Dr. Bassett, in 1979 the FDA allowed electromagnetic fields to be used in the USA for non-union and delayed union fractures. A decade later the FDA allowed the use of pulsed radiofrequency electromagnetic fields for the treatment of pain and edema in superficial soft tissues. It is now commonly accepted that weak electromagnetic fields are capable of initiating various beneficial biological processes including healing for delayed fractures, pain relief, and modulation of muscle tone and spasm.
PEMF (pulsing electromagnetic therapy) is approved by the FDA and accepted as a billable treatment by CMS for non-union bone fractures, stage III & IV wound care, urinary incontinence, muscle stimulation, depression, anxiety and for brain cancer and tumors in 2011.
NASA & PEMF
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as the American agency responsible for putting a man on the moon, conducted 135 Space Shuttle missions between 1981 and 2011, and generally advancing aeronautics and aerospace research. What you may find surprising is that NASA has also concluded a number of studies on magnetic therapy, which is officially known as pulsed electromagnetic field therapy (PEMF).
NASA poured $3.5 million into four years worth of magnetic therapy studies and as a result, developed its
own PEMF devices. The studies had a few aims. First, NASA used human volunteers “to define the most effective electromagnetic fields for enhancing growth and repair in mammalian tissues.
Secondly, it wanted to utilize “nerve tissue that has been refractory to stimulate growth or enhance its repair regardless of the energy used.” And thirdly, the agency wanted to define a PEMF technology that would “duplicate mature, three dimensional morphology between neuronal cells and feeder (glial) cells, which has not been previously accomplished.”
Brief PEMF History
FDA & CMS Approvals