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Whole body electrical stimulation

Assessing whole body electrical stimulation post-bariatric surgery

The investigators hypothesise that WBS will enhance functional capacity, muscle strength, and endurance, and reduce inflammation in bariatric surgery patients

Researchers have begun a study to evaluate the effects of whole-body neuromuscular electrical stimulation (WBS) on body composition, functional capacity, muscle strength and endurance, insulin resistance, and pro- and anti-inflammatory circulating markers in obese patients undergoing bariatric surgery. The outline of the study, ‘Functional and systemic effects of whole body electrical stimulation post bariatric surgery: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial’, was published in BMC, by researchers from the Federal University of São Carlos, São Carlos, Brazil and the University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL.

The investigators hypothesise that WBS will enhance functional capacity, muscle strength, and endurance, and reduce inflammation in BS patients when compared with controls (Sham) and that WBS would reduce fat mass, improve muscle mass and positively affect insulin resistance and exercise capacity in these patients.

The present study is a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel groups clinical trial that will include 36 volunteers (BMI>35) between 18 and 45 years of age who will be randomised to the WBS group (WBSG) or control (Sham) group (ShamG) after being submitted to bariatric surgery. Pre-operative assessments include maximal and submaximal exercise testing, body composition, blood inflammatory markers, and quadriceps strength and endurance. The second day after discharge, body composition will be evaluated and a 6-min walk test (6MWT) will be performed. The WBS or Sham protocol will consist of 30 daily sessions for six consecutive weeks. Afterwards, the same assessments that were performed in the preoperative period will be repeated.

The primary outcome measure for the study will be the 6MWT distance in meters since the distance walked following interventions in patients with chronic conditions is an important tool to assess the efficacy of interventions that theoretically improve functional capacity. Secondary outcomes of this study are to investigate whether the intervention prevents muscle mass loss and whether there is an association between 6MWT distance with lean mass in kilograms.

The WBS vests and cuff electrodes allow for simultaneous control and innervation of 14–18 muscle groups or ten regions (upper legs, upper arms, bottom, abdomen, chest, lower back, upper back, including the latissimus dorsi) with a selectable intensity for each one allowing a total electrode area of up to 2800cm2 (Figure 1). The strain and current intensity can be individually selected and modified during the protocol and be progressively increased during each training session. The parameters will be saved on smart cards to ensure reliable and valid application during the WBS protocol.

Figure 1: Whole-body electrical stimulation exercises performed by a recruited volunteer

“Additionally, it is important to emphasize that WBS equipment can penetrate subcutaneous tissue and stimulate deeper muscles due to the ability to select high current intensities,” the authors write. “Thus, WBS can be considered an innovative and promising technique in obese individuals who have difficulty performing exercise, emphasizing the importance of this study.”

Patient recruitment is currently underway and the outcomes will be published after completion of the study.

To access this paper, please click here

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