Graduation Term


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


School of Kinesiology and Recreation

Committee Chair

Todd McLoda


Context: Therapeutic ultrasound and electrical stimulation both claim to achieve many effects on the body, one of which is increasing blood flow in tissues. Research on electrical stimulation in regards to blood flow has shown both increased and decreased blood flow, due to the electrode placement and the muscular contractions elicited during the treatment, while research on therapeutic ultrasound has provided mixed results, some suggesting that increased blood flow is seen only with intolerable treatment intensities for the patients. The two treatments have not been previously compared in the same study. Objective: To compare radial artery blood flow following therapeutic ultrasound and electrical stimulation. Design: Cross-over study. Setting: University laboratory. Participants: Thirty-six healthy volunteers (22 females, 14 males; 21.19 ± 1.65 years; 170.96 ± 9.24 cm; 70.69 ± 11.54 kg). Interventions: The participants were randomly assigned to therapeutic ultrasound or electrical stimulation for the first treatment session. The participants returned seven days later to receive the treatment they did not receive during the first treatment session. Therapeutic ultrasound was delivered at 1MHz, continuous, 1.5 W/cm2, 10 minutes. The muscle belly of the flexor-pronator mass of the non-dominant forearm was used as the treatment site. Electrical stimulation was delivered at 2-Hz burst mode, 8 pulses/burst, pulse duration 180 microseconds, 15 minutes. The motor points of the flexor-pronator mass was used as the treatment site. This was determined by a visible contraction of the wrist flexors. Diagnostic ultrasound was used to measure radial artery blood flow volume. Main Outcome Measures: Radial artery blood flow volume was recorded before treatment, immediately post-treatment, 5 minutes post-treatment and 10 minutes post-treatment. Results: There were no significant differences found between blood flow measurements when comparing therapeutic ultrasound and electrical stimulation. There were also no significant differences in blood flow when comparing measurements within therapeutic ultrasound. However, there was a significant decrease in blood flow found with electrical stimulation when comparing baseline to immediately post-treatment (P = 0.04) and 5 minutes post-treatment (P = 0.01), but not at 10 minutes post-treatment (P = 0.16). Conclusions: Electrical stimulation temporarily reduces blood flow in the radial artery immediately following treatment and at 5 minutes following treatment. Electrical stimulation is useful in temporarily reducing blood flow and therefore may be beneficial in the control of edema or effusion.


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Kinesiology Commons