NMES Boosts Type 2s’ Insulin Sensitivity

People with type 2 diabetes who have trouble with mobility and are unable to exercise may see benefits similar to exercise from neuromuscular electrical stimulation.

According to the results of a new study, the daily use of electrical stimulation, which when set at high frequency currents induces unintentional muscle contractions to simulate exercise, helped boost insulin sensitivity for more than 50 percent of those with type 2 diabetes.

The study included 18 patients who underwent 25-minute daily electrical stimulation sessions for a one-week period. Those who were treated with insulin were not included in the study. More than half saw an increase in insulin sensitivity of more than 10 percent.

The results are cause for optimism, according to Dr. Michael Joubert of the departments of medicine and endocrinology at Caen University Hospital in France, because they were seen in such a short period of time.

“We know that adherence to physical activity is rather low in the type 2 diabetic population due to lack of motivation, disabling complications or comorbidities and deconditioning,” said Joubert, who presented the study at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes meeting this fall. “NMES could represent an alternative to conventional physical activity, especially in sedentary patients.”

NMES are currently used as part of physical therapy and sports rehabilitation, as a cosmetic tool, and for strength training.

Joubert is heading a follow-up study to determine if continued sessions for a longer period of time leads to improved glucose control.

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