Therapeutic ultrasound

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Therapeutic ultrasound

Widely used – uses high frequency inaudible sound (acoustic energy) to produce thermal and mechanical effects in tissues  generates deep heat

Ultrasound is generated as by piezoelectric effect -

Effects of ultrasound on tissues:
1) Thermal
2) Mechanical a) Cavitation – expansion and contraction of gas bubbles in tissues  oscillation  micromassage
b) Acoustic streaming – movement of fluids or ions across membranes

Soft tissue injury, contusion, muscle spasm – especially for deep tissues

Infection; acute inflammation or acute phase of injury; deep vein thrombosis; peripheral vascular disease; tumours; haemophilia; metal implants; fractures; pregnancy;

Methods of application:
Continuous – used for thermal effects in tissues  increase deep tissue temperature and collagen extensibility
Pulsed/interrupted – used for mechanical effects in tissues  use when heat is contraindicated (eg acute phase).

Ultrasound does not propagate through air  need a coupling medium that has a low attenuation (absorption) coefficient

Direct coupling:
Use gel; ultrasound head is placed directly on skin

Water immersion coupling:
Foot and ultrasound head used under water; head is directed at foot from about 2-3cm – indicated if direct contact with skin is contraindicated.

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