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How Electrical Currents Help People Walk Further

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Researchers in Scotland are using Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) as a method of pain relief for people suffering from peripheral artery disease (P.A.D.), a circulation issue that causes leg pain and leg cramps while walking. Walking is the best medicine for P.A.D. patients because it helps stimulate the body's ability to establish a collateral network of vessels that can re-route blood flow around blockages and severely narrowed areas in the arteries. The problem is each step can be painful for these patients due to the nerve pain caused by restricted blood flow to muscles, tissues and nerves in the lower extremities. Physiotherapist Dr. Chris Seenan and Doctorate student and researcher Daniel Tiboldi have been studying this issue and trying to get a greater understanding on physical, emotional, and behavioral barriers limiting mobility. One research project led by Dr. Seenan involves attaching a TENS unit to strategic areas on these patients where the pain is occurring while they walk. This study found improved walking distance in those patients who wore the TENS unit. Dr. Seenan talk with hosts Kym McNicholas and Dr. John Phillips about the results and next steps in their research.

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