Extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) has a particular effect on the disturbances in cases of disabling motor disturbances, spasticity, in polyneuropathy and paraplegia, which has never been able to be achieved with any other method. The shock waves we use stimulate nerves that, especially in physical disablement, are capable of working but have “gone to sleep”. They also relieve pain, promote the blood supply to the treated tissues, and stimulate nerves and blood vessels to grow. Stimulation of cell metabolism predominates. See also the Literature references.
Shock waves are ultra-short sound impulses that are passed through the tissue, bundled and re-separating. The crucial factor is the strength of this energy. Just as one can drive a locomotive with heavy current or a wristwatch with light current, with high-energy shock waves one can crush kidney stones or with very low-energy shock waves produce a stimulant effect on the metabolism of blood vessels, muscles and nerves.
In general we use only 1/10 of the energy that is classified internationally as “low-energy”. For therapy, the structures to be treated (muscles, ligaments, nerve regions) are located and treated with shock waves. Consequently, since 1994 after more than 15,000 individual treatments on children and adults with motor disturbances we have never had to report an undesirable effect. We use a Duolith apparatus and a modified Minilith apparatus from the company Storz Medical. A session with extracorporeal shock wave therapy comprises about 2000 - 3000 impulses.
We have been able to prove that the muscle contractures that are responsible for drop-foot or inability to turn the hands can be clearly improved. The muscles become less stiff and permit joint mobility within certain limits. In many cases the proprioception of the limbs is promoted to such a degree that movements that for a long time could not be carried out become possible again. We are very pleased that Professor Amelio and Professor Manganotti from the University of Verona have now been able to confirm in stroke patients and children with cerebral palsy the results we obtained in improving mobility in children with spastic disorders (see Literature references).
Recently, shock waves have also proved helpful in the treatment of the unpleasant disturbances of sensation and movement in polyneuropathy.
Also in post-polio syndrome nerves can be stimulated very well, so that the musculature gains considerable strength.
A special field is the use of extracorporeal shock waves to improve muscle activity and sensitivity in incomplete paraplegia and after stroke or traumatic brain injury. Here too, results could be obtained that have not been seen previously with conventional physiotherapy.
Further indications in addition to muscle contractures and disturbances of proprioception are pain emanating from the musculoskeletal system, especially tennis elbow, heel spur and certain shoulder disorders.