What is it? H-Wave Therapy combines neurological and muscular stimulation, by generating a bi-polar exponential decaying waveform, which emulates the Hoffman reflex found in nerve signals.
What does it do? H-Wave can be used to induce muscular contractions, increasing blood flow and oxygenation to the muscles, whilst alleviating pain by removing excessive toxins, due to increases in lymphatic drainage. H-Wave achieves this by stimulating the motor point of the muscle, causing compression of lymphatic and venous vessels. These effects are induced at a frequency of 2Hz, which is commonly used to promote healing, reduce oedema and release muscle spasm, providing effective long term relief.
H-Wave can also provide a deep analgesic effect at 60Hz, preventing pain signal transmission, providing immediate pain relief. H-Wave stimulates the fast conducting A-fibres, which initiate the brain to shut down the "pain gate" as postulated by Melzers and Wall. Thus, analgesia is provided without muscle stimulation.
Clinical application: As a physiotherapist, thoracolumbar hypertonicity, muscle spasm and myofascial trigger points are common findings when assessing a patient, especially in ridden horses. When treating the thoracolumbar musculature in the ridden horse, our role as a physiotherapist is to provide pain relief, alleviate and reduce muscle spasm, but also enhance and stabilize the spinal column, by means of dynamic mobilization exercise and remedial exercise encouraging the correct development of thoracolumbar epaxial musculature.
More recently, with the introduction of H-Wave, we can effectively target deeper stabilization epaxial musculature which is inaccessible during massage, complementing manual therapy techniques. H-Wave Therapy can be effectively used to provide pain relief at 60Hz but also release muscle spasm by means of the "muscle pump action" at 2Hz as discussed above. Often, in horses which are very sensitive and painful, it is often beneficial to administer a treatment at 60Hz before proceeding with the treatment at 2Hz, to provide effective longer lasting effects which is better tolerated.
The H-Wave can also be used to gently and effectively mobilse the lumbo-sacral junction via electrode placement on the longissmis dorsi m. and middle gluteal m., releasing hypertonic thoracolumbar epaxial musculature. The motor firing initiates a rhythmical rocking of the region, alleviating pain, muscle spasm, and deep trigger points within associated musculature. This serves to benefit in ridden work, enhancing the effectiveness of transitions, and in the gait itself.
H-Wave has been transferred from human medicine to veterinary medicine with up and coming research providing clinical evidence into its benefits. Currently within the equine physiotherapy industry, the majority of the evidence is anecdotal, however an increasing amount of research is being conducted providing clinical evidence to support its effectiveness.