Quantitative PEMF therapy data please

In summary, I discovered Physics Forums when I searched for PEMF on Google. I became interested in PEMF when I was asked if I could repair two PEMF machines. The first machine was a small portable device that had been damaged from a fall, and the second machine was a larger, more complex device. After diagnosing and correcting faults, the manufacturer provided vague guidance on how to adjust the pre-sets in the circuit. The machine was also accompanied by a small ferrite magnet that was meant to be held in the centre of the coil during treatment. The Physics Forum PEMF thread, created in 2009, discussed the technology with a mix of enthusiasm and scepticism. Since then, there has been ongoing debate and research on
  • #1
I discovered Physics Forums when I searched for PEMF on Google.

I became interested in PEMF when I was asked if I could repair two PEMF machines.
(I have acquired a reputation as a "Mr Fix-it" in our small community here in Spain!)

The first was a small portable device with a hand "paddle".
The "paddle" had been dropped from a great height onto a tiled floor. (There are a lot of tiled floors in Spain!)

The drop had exposed the innards of the paddle which consisted of a tightly wound coil of approx 1mm diam magnet wire.
The overall diameter of the coil was about 60mm and the depth 20mm.(Somewhat distorted by the fall!)
This coil was connected to the control box by a length of 3 core mains cable in which two cores were used.

I measured the inductance of the coil and was convinced there were shorted turns.
This prompted an e-mail to the Canadian Manufacturer requesting specs for the device.
They suggested I should stick the plastic sheath for the paddle back together and give it back to the owner !
She wasn't happy with that (it wasn't very pretty) and we ordered a new paddle.
The cost of shipping from Canada was nearly as much as the cost of the paddle.

Measuring the inductance of the new paddle proved that the damage to the old paddle was definitely more than cosmetic.
The control unit was a simple circuit in which a large electrolytic capacitor was charged to about 150 volts.
This was discharged through the coil by triggering a silicon controlled rectifier.
A series of green Leds were arranged prettily on the front panel and lit sequentially as the capacitor charged.
A couple of pre-set pots on the board adjusted the peak voltage and the charge time.

I asked the manufacturer for some guidance on how these should be adjusted.
I was told that if the top green led illuminated just before the magnetic pulse occurred "it would be right".

The second machine was a bit more exotic.
It consisted of a large coil of about 0.5 metre diameter very nicely packaged in white and charcoal grey plastic.
This was connected by heavy duty mains cable to the control unit.(Mains cable seems to be a popular choice)

The control circuit was essentially a class D audio amp driven by a waveform function generator.
Various waveforms and amplitudes could be selected on the front panel.
These were indicated by a series of LEDs arranged in the shape of the different waveforms..

Selectable waveforms were Sine,Half Sine,Square and Half Square.
The frequencies were adjustable from 1Hz to 100Hz and the amplitude from 0 to 150 ? (Units not defined!)
A digital timer controlled the duration of the treatment.

With this machine I also received a set of schematics and a user manual.
The schematics were a reasonable representation of the actual hardware but some component values were different.
There were no voltages, currents or waveforms shown.

Having diagnosed and corrected three faults, I requested data from the manufacturer on how to adjust the pre-sets in the circuit.
The response was a little vague.
It seemed that intensity readouts of 0 to 150 and frequency readouts of 0 to 100 were satisfactory.
However these were derived from the output of the function generator and had little to do with how the power stage handled the signals.

Supplied with the machine was a small ferrite magnet.
The instruction in the user manual was to hold this it in the centre of the coil in the palm of the hand.
This should jiggle (vibrate) more violently as the field intensity increased.

Class D amplifiers generally require a low pass filter in series with the output to the load.
This had an LC filter using 10Amp power inductors and a bipolar electrolytic capacitor.
The low pass characteristic of this filter meant that at all but the lowest frequencies there was little difference between the wave shapes applied to the coil.
There was a higher frequency ring on all waveforms. This was a little less pronounced when Sine was selected.
The difference between full and half waveforms was a DC shift which made the magnetic field unipolar.

(Unfounded anecdote removed)

The Physics Forun PEMF thread was created in 2009 and was a mix of enthusiasm and scepticism for the technology.
I'm intrigued to know if more serious research has been done on this technology with available published peer reviews.
Quantitative rather than qualitative work would be preferred!
Last edited by a moderator:
Biology news on Phys.org
  • #2
Pulsed electromagnetic fields have been used since the 1840's and remain controversial. The mechanism of action is not well understood. This 2012 paper presents its application in cases of delayed union or non-union of tibial bone fractures. Note this is a prospective study without controls and the result is suggestive but not statistically significant (p=0.08) It's not clear how this value was calculated. Thirty-four patients out of 44 had a successful outcome according to the authors.

"It seems that the introduction of electromagnetic fields at the fracture site can stimulate the bone in a way similar to mechanical loading [1]. However, there is still ongoing debate regarding the mechanism of action of PEMF at cellular and molecular level. PEMF have been advocated to stimulate the synthesis of extracellular matrix proteins and exert a direct effect on the production of proteins that regulate gene transcription [9]. Electromagnetic fields may also affect several membrane receptors including PTH, insulin, IGF-2, LDL and calcitonin receptors [10]. Moreover, when osteoblasts are stimulated by PEMF, they secrete several growth factors such as bone morphogenic proteins 2 and 4 and TGF-beta [6,11].

The principle underlying the application of PEMF is that of inductive coupling [6,11]. The electric current is produced by a coil, driven by an external field generator. The outcome is a secondary electrical field produced in the bone [1]. The secondary field is dependent on the characteristics of the applied magnetic field and tissue properties. Magnetic fields varying from 0.1 to 20 G are usually applied in order to produce electrical fields in bone, ranging from 1 to 100 mV/cm [11]. Contra-indications to the use of PEMF include segmental bone loss, infected nonunions, synovial pseudarthrosis and poor stability of fracture site [11]."

Last edited:
  • #3
Thanks SW VandeCarr for the post.
I guess I need to learn some of the biological language before understanding what I'm reading.
My experience with medical equipment revolved around radiation therapy in the Christie Hospital in Manchester UK.
The major concern was developing systems which controlled the dosage delivered to different parts of the patient. This involved 3D geometry, servo control of position, real time beam intensity control and time control. The idea being to deliver the appropriate dose to the target volume, but minimise exposure in surrounding tissue.
If PEMF shows promise as a non-invasive treatment, has anyone examined the effects of field orientation on its effectiveness?
  • #4
electricliff said:
If PEMF shows promise as a non-invasive treatment, has anyone examined the effects of field orientation on its effectiveness?

I don't know but I would think the most effective orientations would be those that maximize the desired characteristics of the induced secondary EM field in the target tissue. The US FDA has approved PEMF therapy for bone fractures utilizing quasi-triangular and quasi-rectangular wave forms.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pulsed_electromagnetic_field_therapy (see History)
Last edited:
  • #5

I appreciate your interest in seeking quantitative data on PEMF therapy. It is always important to gather and analyze data in a scientific manner in order to make informed conclusions about a technology or treatment.

From your description, it seems like the two PEMF machines you encountered were quite different in design and operation. It is not uncommon for manufacturers to provide vague instructions or data on their products, especially for alternative therapies like PEMF.

In terms of published research on PEMF therapy, there have been a number of studies conducted, particularly in the medical field, looking at its potential benefits for various conditions such as pain management, wound healing, and osteoarthritis. However, the results have been mixed and more research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms and effectiveness of PEMF therapy.

I would recommend looking into scientific databases such as PubMed or Google Scholar to find peer-reviewed articles on PEMF therapy. It is important to critically evaluate the methodology and results of these studies to determine their reliability. Additionally, contacting reputable scientific organizations or experts in the field may also provide valuable insights and resources.

Overall, it is always important to approach new technologies and treatments with a critical and scientific mindset, gathering as much data and information as possible before making any conclusions or recommendations. I wish you luck in your continued research on PEMF therapy.

Related to Quantitative PEMF therapy data please

1. What is quantitative PEMF therapy data?

Quantitative PEMF therapy data refers to the numerical measurements and results gathered from studies and experiments that use PEMF (pulsed electromagnetic field) therapy. This data can include measures such as changes in cellular activity, gene expression, and physiological responses to the therapy.

2. How is quantitative PEMF therapy data collected?

Quantitative PEMF therapy data is typically collected using specialized equipment, such as magnetic field meters and biofeedback devices, that can measure the intensity and frequency of the PEMF therapy. This data can also be collected through various imaging techniques, such as MRI scans, to observe changes in cellular activity and tissue response.

3. What are the benefits of using quantitative PEMF therapy data?

The use of quantitative PEMF therapy data allows for a more objective and accurate evaluation of the effectiveness of PEMF therapy. It can also provide insights into the mechanisms of action and potential therapeutic applications of the therapy. Additionally, this data can be used to track progress and make adjustments to the therapy for optimal results.

4. Are there any limitations to using quantitative PEMF therapy data?

One limitation of using quantitative PEMF therapy data is that it may not take into account individual variations and responses to the therapy. Additionally, the quality and reliability of the data can be affected by factors such as the design of the study, sample size, and potential bias in data interpretation.

5. How is quantitative PEMF therapy data used in clinical practice?

Quantitative PEMF therapy data is used in clinical practice to guide treatment decisions and monitor the progress of patients undergoing PEMF therapy. It can also be used for research purposes to further understand the potential benefits and applications of this therapy in various medical conditions.

Similar threads

  • Electrical Engineering
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering