Can muscle stimulation reduce pain in people with leg artery disease? - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Can muscle stimulation reduce pain in people with leg artery disease?

14 Mar 2022

University of the Sunshine Coast researchers are testing the effectiveness of a home-based therapy for peripheral artery disease.

Also Known as PAD, the disease causes blockages in the arteries of the legs which leads to leg pain when walking.

USC Principal investigator Associate Professor Chris Askew says those with the disease in its most severe form can develop severe blockages that reduce blood flow to lower limbs and can lead to ulceration or gangrene. PAD can also increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Funded through an industry partnership, the research team is seeking participants diagnosed with peripheral artery disease to participate in the randomised controlled study to test the effectiveness of a footplate muscle stimulation device as a treatment option.

They are also working with vascular surgeons to identify patients who might benefit from the study.

“Those with peripheral artery disease are caught in a Catch-22 situation,” said Dr Askew. “Exercise is one of the best ways to improve vascular function, but the disease can make walking painful.”

“If the muscle stimulation device is effective, people will be able to walk further with less pain”.

As part of the trial, participants will use a footplate muscle stimulation device for 60 minutes each day for 12 weeks. The device is designed to deliver electrical impulses to the muscles of the feet and legs.

The study is investigating whether using a Revitive® neuromuscular electrical stimulation device can reduce leg muscle pain when walking and help determine whether regular use of leg muscle stimulation should be a recommended therapy for people with peripheral artery disease.

More than 200 participants are being sought for the trial which aims to verify the findings from a preliminary pilot study by Imperial College London.

Participants will complete the footplate program at home and take part in leg blood flow assessments, walking tests and questionnaires about leg pain and quality of life during study visits at USC’s Sunshine Coast campus.

People interested in enrolling in the trial can email footpad@usc.edu.au or call 07 5456 5364.

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