Introducing Muscle Electrical Stimulation to children.
Muscle electrical stimulation is a therapy that is used to enable a person to flex a muscle. For people who need therapy for muscle strengthening, this method can be used because the muscle can
be flexed without the person being able to do so on their own.
Sticky pads are placed on the skin over the target muscle. This enables a controlled electrical current from a small device to
safely make the muscle flex. MES has been used as an option
for children with cerebral palsy and other neurological conditions who have difficulties with walking, upper limb function and general muscle weakness. MES has been used with children from as young as 6 months old to teenagers as documented in scientific literature.
When introducing MES to children for the first time here are our top 10 tips to make this a fun, safe and effective therapy.
- Explain how the device works and what it does to both the child and the caregiver and demonstrate on yourself.
- Before application check the area of the skin where the device will be going to ensure there are no open cuts, scars, bruises and/or excessive hair
- Encourage the child to decorate the sticky pads/device with stickers of their favourite characters.
- Give the warning before you begin increasing the electrical current and allow them control the strength of the current initially when setting parameters.
- Start with lower parameters and gradually increase as the child tolerates.
- Use distractions such as music or toys when first applying stickers/device and when increasing stimulation if the child appears anxious or worried.
- Allow the child to help remove the stickers when finished to give them a sense of control.
- If the child indicates discomfort try to encourage the child to describe the feeling and location of discomfort e.g. “sharp”, “tingly”, “itchy”, “Hot” before removing the device to eliminate other potential causes.
- After the first few uses be sure to check the skin underneath the pads/device for any redness that doesn’t dissipate within a few hours.
- It often helps to set personal challenges or reward systems to motivate children to wear the device and encourage compliance.
MES has the potential to improve a number of different areas including muscle mass and strength, spasticity, passive range of motion,walking speed, positioning of the foot and the way that the ankle moves. By following our top 10 tips when introducing electrical stimulation to children you can make this a pleasant experience for both the child, caregiver and therapist.
For more information on Muscle Electrical Stimulation and specific products, please head to The Next Steps Project website and go to the Education and Devices tabs to find out more.