Previous studies showed that exposure to pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMF) produced a 22% increase in the axonal regeneration rate during the first 6 days after crush injury in the rat sciatic nerve. We used the same injury model to assess the effect on functional recovery. The animals were treated with whole body exposure to PEMF (0.3 mT, repetition rate 2 Hz) for 4 h/day during Days 1-5 while held in plastic restrainers. Functional recovery was serially assessed up to Postinjury Day 43 using recently described video imaging of the 1-5 toe spread and the gait-stance duration. Footprint analysis was also used with calculation of a sciatic function index. Those animals treated with PEMF had improved functional recovery, as compared to sham controls, using the tests for video 1-5 toe spread and gait-stance duration (P = 0.001 and P = 0.081, respectively). This effect was found throughout the 43-day recovery period. No effect was found using the sciatic function index. This study confirms that functional recovery after nerve crush lesion is accelerated by PEMF and has broad implications for the clinical use of these fields in the management of nerve injuries.
Exp Neurol 1994 Feb;125(2):302-5
Walker JL, Evans JM, Resig P, Guarnieri S, Meade P, Sisken BS.
Division of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Kentucky College of Medicine, Shriners Hospitals for Crippled Children, Lexington.