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Man Ther. 2000 Aug;5(3):132-41.

The role of electrotherapy in contemporary physiotherapy practice.

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Department of Physiotherapy, University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, Hertfordshire, UK.


Although electrotherapy has a well established role within physiotherapy practice, the current concepts that influence its application vary considerably from those proposed historically. It is argued that there is a place for electrophysical modalities in contemporary practice, and several basic principles are considered together with more specific information regarding two modalities namely, ultrasound and interferential therapy. Electrophysical agents are utilised to bring about physiological effects, and it is these changes which bring about the therapeutic benefit rather than the modality itself. Clinical decision protocols employing the available evidence should enable the most appropriate modality to be employed for a particular patient. Indiscriminate use of electrotherapy is unlikely to yield significant benefit, however used at the right time, it has the potential to achieve beneficial effect. The patient management programme which combines manual therapy, exercise therapy and electrotherapy, based on current evidence, should enable the most efficacious management of a patients' dysfunction. This paper aims to consider some of the current concepts in electrotherapy and to relate this to both general and specific treatments.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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