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Phys Ther. 2009 Feb;89(2):181-90. doi: 10.2522/ptj.20080060. Epub 2008 Dec 18.

Electrical stimulation using kilohertz-frequency alternating current.

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Musculoskeletal Research Centre, Faculty of Health Sciences, La Trobe University, Victoria, Australia.


Transcutaneous electrical stimulation using kilohertz-frequency alternating current (AC) became popular in the 1950s with the introduction of "interferential currents," promoted as a means of producing depth-efficient stimulation of nerve and muscle. Later, "Russian current" was adopted as a means of muscle strengthening. This article reviews some clinically relevant, laboratory-based studies that offer an insight into the mechanism of action of kilohertz-frequency AC. It provides some answers to the question: "What are the optimal stimulus parameters for eliciting forceful, yet comfortable, electrically induced muscle contractions?" It is concluded that the stimulation parameters commonly used clinically (Russian and interferential currents) are suboptimal for achieving their stated goals and that greater benefit would be obtained using short-duration (2-4 millisecond), rectangular bursts of kilohertz-frequency AC with a frequency chosen to maximize the desired outcome.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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