TENS unit supplies are not for electrical brain stimulation

TENS unit supplies are good for a great many things; immediate relief of acute or chronic pain for the back, feet, shoulders, neck, etc; relaxation of muscle spasms; increasing local blood circulation; post-surgical stimulation; maintaining or increasing range-of-motion; and that’s just to mention a few uses. However, TENS units are most definitely not, I repeat, not meant to be used for non-invasive electrical brain stimulation. It says so right there in the instruction manual: “do not place electrodes in your head or at any sites that may cause the electrical current to flow transcerebrally (through the head).”

Most people would understandably think that this should go without saying. Nonetheless, neuroscientists from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania wrote an open letter – published in the July 7th edition of Annals of Neurology – warning against “do-it-yourself” administration of brain stimulation. Studies indicate that electrical stimulation of the brain through electrodes attached to the scalp could potentially help improve cognition and relieve anxiety, depression, and other mental conditions. “Published results of these studies might lead DIY users to believe that they can achieve the same results if they mimic the research studies,” postdoctoral research fellow in the Laboratory for Cognition and Neural Stimulation at Penn. Dr. Rachel Wurzman said.

However, “there is much about noninvasive brain stimulation that remains unknown,” Associate Director of the Deep Brain Stimulation Program and Associate Director of the Berenson-Allen Center for Noninvasive Brain Stimulation at BIDMC and an Assistant Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School Dr. Michael D. Fox wrote. Which begs the questions, are five other Michael Middle-Initial Foxes between this one and Michael J.? “Some risks, such as burns to the skin, are well recognized. However, other potential problems may not be immediately apparent. As neuroscientists we perceive an ethical obligation to draw the attention of both professionals and DIY users to some of these issues,” he added.

Some of those other potential problems might include targeting more of the brain than intended, and long-lasting changes in brain function that run counter to what the user was aiming for. Unfortunately, in-home brain stimulation has become popular among people hoping to improve memory, focus, and creativity. As it turns out, though, small setting changes, such as the current's amplitude, stimulation duration and electrode placement could have unintended and negative consequences. That is why it is so important to read the manual – quoted above – in its entirety and, even more importantly, use TENS units supplies only as prescribed by a healthcare provider.

Let’s put it like this; iron’s good for you, but you don’t go around chewing on nails, do you? It’s the same here; TENS units are the best in the world at what they do, but there are something they do not – and should not – do. So once again, if you buy TENS unit supplies at Discount Medical Supplies, use them only for their intended purpose. And if you’re ever in doubt, ask your doctor.