The utilization of bioelectromagnetics has been a topic of discussion within and outside of the medical community. Due to the latest scientific findings, there has been a surge in the popularity of electromagnetic therapy integration to treat arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, various types of cancer, and diabetic neuropathy. The practical success of such treatments’ implementation is evident in recent studies and academic reviews (Morberg et al., 2018; Snearly & Sorin, 2019; Vadala et al., 2016; Zhu et al., 2017). However, the administration of electromagnetic therapies can have moderate and severe side effects, including hypotension and headache (Vadala et al., 2016). This requires medical professionals to identify the primary contraindications of bioelectromagnetics. Nursing professionals involved in the administration of the treatment have to be well-informed on the health implications of electromagnetic overexposure. Therefore, a set of guidelines for medics dealing with bioelectromagnetics therapies should be developed and promoted.
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There are several crucial concepts related to the utilization of bioelectromagnetics in the medical field. The scientific community adopted the term ‘bioelectromagnetics’ to describe the application of research that deals with bioelectromagnetism and the health effects of artificial structures’ magnetic fields. Bioelectromagnetism refers to the connection between living organisms’ electric and magnetic fields (Snearly & Sorin, 2019). Physicians started to use the science of electromagnetic interactions with the human body in order to promote health and longevity, which implied the use of bioelectromagnetic therapy (BT). Human exposure to electromagnetic fields induces electrical currents, which has numerous health effects and makes BT an effective treatment (Snearly & Sorin, 2019). Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy (PEMF) facilitates more efficient absorption of nutrients by “improving adenosine triphosphate [ATP] production, increasing oxygenation, enhancing circulation, promoting hydration, facilitating detoxification” (as cited in Snearly & Sorin, 2019). Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) is known as electroacupuncture since it implies the continuous stimulation of nerve endings for pain control (Snearly & Sorin, 2019). Bioelectromagnetic therapy has experienced a recent spike in popularity, which is why it is essential for health professionals to familiarize themselves with the appropriate terminology, health benefits, and contraindications related to BT.
Magnetic and electromagnetic fields are recognized by medical practitioners worldwide as safe treatment options. However, BT and PEMF can have various side effects, primarily associated with certain patients’ sensitivity to electric currents. Vadala et al. (2016) note that hypotension, headache, and cognitive dysfunction are among some of the most common reactions from patients, who are sensitive to electromagnetic activities. Contraindications of bioelectromagnetic therapy include pregnancy, myasthenia gravis, acute viral diseases, and hyperactive endocrine glands (Pawliuk, n.d.). Severe cases of fungal disease, hypotension, and atherosclerosis serve as cautions during such types of treatment.
Health Benefits and Applications
BT can have profound biological effects since all chemical and molecular interactions are fundamentally electromagnetic. Positive effects of electromagnetic fields include increased blood flow, less inflammation, muscle relaxation, and high quality of sleep due to reduced stress (Snearly & Sorin, 2019). Improved nerve function subsequently leads to enhanced cognitive ability. There are documented benefits of PEMF in treating arthritis and osteoporosis due to short-term increases in bone density (Zhu et al., 2017). Apart from dealing with bone fragility, bioelectromagnetics therapy can help patients alleviate pain and improve overall mood. Positive effects of TENS have been registered by researchers specialized in the treatment of disorders that affect central and peripheral nervous systems (Morberg et al., 2018). Morberg et al. (2018) found that the medical application of bioelectromagnetics benefited patients with Parkinson’s disease. The administration of BT treatments is favored by oncologists due to its “non‐invasiveness, safety, lack of toxicity for non‐cancerous cells, and the possibility of being combined with other available therapies” (Vadala et al., 2016, p. 3128). PEMF stimulation is utilized in terms of breast, prostate, pancreatic, thyroid, and various other types of cancer (Vadala et al., 2016). Bioelectromagnetics’ numerous health benefits have led to its wide-range application in the medical field.
Integration into Nursing Practice
Two main concerns that arise with the popularization of BT treatment are frequent staff exposure to electromagnetic currents and nurses’ lack of knowledge regarding bioelectromagnetics. A nursing professional is required to provide high-quality care and assistance, which is why the successful implementation of BT implies nurses are educated and well-informed. There is a need to develop specific guidelines in regards to primary care workers’ overexposure to electromagnetic activity. Moreover, hospitals and independent nursing associations have to invest in the creation of large-scale (national) and local training programs, seminars, and conferences. They could help educate nurses and facilitate important discussions regarding treatment safety and integration.
The administration of bioelectromagnetics treatment requires nurses and other medical professionals to be informed about BT specifics and possible health implications. Nursing practice is founded on the principles of non-maleficence and informed consent, which is why nurses should strive to educate themselves on the topic of PEMF and TENS. Hospital executives and the medical community at large are responsible for creating and promoting appropriate guidelines and safety codes in regards to the possible overexposure of healthcare workers to electromagnetic activity.
Morberg, B. M., Malling, A. S., Jensen, B. R., Gredal, O., Bech, P., & Wermuth, L. (2018). Effects of transcranial pulsed electromagnetic field stimulation on quality of life in Parkinson’s disease. European Journal of Neurology, 25(7), 963–e74.
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Pawliuk, W. (n.d.). PEMF contraindications. Almagia International. Web.
Snearly, C. N., & Sorin, S. (2019). Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy: Innovative treatment for diabetic neuropathy. Practical Pain Management, 16(3). Web.
Vadala, M., Morales-Medina, J. C., Vallelunga, A., Palmieri, B., Laurino, C., & Iannitti, T. (2016). Mechanisms and therapeutic effectiveness of pulsed electromagnetic field therapy in oncology. Cancer Medicine, 5(11), 3128–3139.
Zhu, S., He, H., Zhang, C., Wang, H., Gao, C., Yu, X., & He, C. (2017). Effects of pulsed electromagnetic fields on postmenopausal osteoporosis. Bioelectromagnetics, 38(6), 406–424.