Whilst the medical profession has been ‘sniffing around’ the effects magnetic therapy could have on spine injuries, evidence has been far from conclusive, up until the twenty first century that is.
In 2004 doctors at the Imperial College in London studied the effects magnetic stimulation had on the brains of people who had partially damaged spines.
The details of the study, which were published in the Journal Spinal Cord, involved doctors using the technique known as Transcrannial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) which placed the magnetic device on the scalps of patients with spine cord damage.
This form of magnetic treatment works by placing an electromagnet on the scalp so that brief magnetic pulses are generated to the brain and by doing so stimulates the region of the brain known as cerebral cortex.
One of the biggest criticisms of magnetic therapy is that it creates a ‘placebo effect’, whereby patients may ‘believe’ they feel better when in actual fact they are not.
In order to rule out whether TMS when used to treat spinal problems is placebo or real, the patients involved in the study received two forms of treatment – one real and one a sham.
Focusing on a concept known as ‘intracortical inhibition’, whereby messages from the brain are passed down to the spinal cord easier, the results of the study showed that when the patients underwent the actual TMS treatment it resulted in a 37.5% reduction in intracortial inhibition, compared with ‘conventional’ physiotherapy techniques.
The report continues that the increase in intracortial inhibition was accompanied by an improvement in both the patients’ motor and sensory functions, improvements that lasted almost a month after the treatment had been completed.
Commenting on the study, lead researcher Dr Nick Davey told the BBC:
“We need to be extremely careful in interpreting these results as we only sampled a small number of patients. Further studies on larger groups of patients will be need to be carried out before we will know if this treatment is fully effective.”
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