A new study suggests electrical stimulation can strengthen muscles affected by long COVID.
According to Baylor College of Medicine researchers, long COVID refers to a person that has persistent symptoms even after they have recovered from COVID. This could mean something as simple as a cough, but also include the muscular or respiratory systems. In some cases, it could even mean memory loss.
Electrical stimulation as a treatment could benefit those who show minimal atrophy, weakness, pain, fatigue, and those whose respiratory systems were affected because of long COVID.
Doctor Alejandro Zulbaran y Rojas at Baylor College of Medicine is the lead researcher at the Michael E. DeBakey Department of Surgery. He said the study was mostly to help those who get tired or dizzy easily from exercise.
"We used electrical stimulation to try to help their legs in a similar way that exercise does. It is a very low-voltage stimulation," he said.
Participants in the study used adhesive pads on the skin that could be used without regular clinic visits. The pads were connected to the bulkier part of the participants legs.
Those who received electrical stimulation showed improved muscle endurance after four weeks of one-hour electrical stimulation. However, Zulbaran said it will take some time to see how effective the therapy is for those with more extreme symptoms.
"We don't want to give false hope to anyone," he said. "I would say that the therapy helps, but it's not magic, you know?"
Because this was a pilot study, the college had a small group of participants to test this therapy. Zulbaran plans to do a follow-up study to examine the long-term effects of electrical stimulation on the participants.
Doctor Bijan Najafi is another corresponding author and professor of surgery at Baylor. He said in a press release that the study is a way to tackle residual symptoms from long COVID.
"Our study, though a starting point, may contribute to developing practical solutions that alleviate musculoskeletal symptoms in long COVID and similar sequelae caused by respiratory infections," Najafi said.