History of Diapulse

             Modern  medicine focuses on the anatomical and biochemical (i.e., the  physical),  ignoring, until recently, the body's less-understood  electromagnetic nature. As  underscored by Albert Einstein's famous E=  mc2 equation, however, the physical  never exists without energy, and  each influences the other. Every molecule in  our body emits an  electromagnetic field, and because each cell - and, in turn,  each organ  - is an aggregation of such molecules, they too are electromagnetic. 

            There  is no tissue in which this fact is more evident than  our nervous system, which  functions by routing electromagnetic impulses  throughout our body via our  spinal cord. Hence, attempts to fix an  injured cord through physical means will  be enhanced by working with  and - not against - its electromagnetic nature.

            Diapulse  directs electromagnetic energy to a specific body  area, even through clothing,  casts, or bandages, via a cylindrical  treatment head mounted on an adjustable  bracket. The technology does  not cause side effects or require patient  involvement. 

            Because  the device pulses its electromagnetic output, it  emits energy for only a  fraction of time, allowing any heat associated  with the transferred energy to  dissipate. Diapulse's electromagnetic  output is often pulsed at 600 pulses per  second with each pulse lasting  65 microseconds (1 second = 1million  microseconds). Hence, this pulse  rate corresponds to the device being off 25  times longer than it is on. 


HISTORY: The Diapulse  prototype was  developed in the early 1930s by physician Abraham Ginsberg and   physicist Arthur Milinowski, who reported their initial clinical  experience and  animal research with the device to the 1934 & 1940  New York Academy of  Medicine. Because the technology behind the device  was used to develop radar,  the device's emergence as a healing modality  was delayed due to World War II  security concerns. 

            Research  was resumed in the 1950s by the military's  Tri-Service Research Program, which  after extensive studies concluded  that the device was safe and effective. 

            About  this time, the driving force behind Diapulse shifted  from Ginsburg to Dr. Jesse  Ross, a biophysicist, whose impressive  background includes professional  associations with Einstein and being  one of the founders of the prestigious Bio  electromagnetic Society and a  NASA consultant. Ross created the Diapulse  Corporation of America  (Great Neck, NY), developing a collaboration with  Remington Rand to  produce the device. To further assess the device's healing  potential,  Ross then launched ambitious research with universities and  clinicians  around the world.

            One  famous customer was former President Harry Truman in 1966.

            Over  time, Diapulse was adopted as a treatment in various  areas of medicine  throughout the world; it is approved by the FDA for  treatment of post-operative  swelling and pain. 

DIAPULSE STUDIES: Numerous studies  support  Diapulse's potential to treat neurologically associated problems and   exert neuroprotective and -regenerative influences. After nervous-system   injury, Diapulse helps to restore the membrane potential  (concentration  difference of charged solutes between the cell inside  and outside) necessary to  ensure cell survival and to enhance  recovery-promoting blood flow. 

BLOOD FLOW: Dr. W. Erdman  (Philadelphia,  1960) demonstrated that Diapulse increases systemic blood flow  without  elevating pulse rate or blood pressure. This effect is most likely due   to the ability of Diapulse-generated fields to induce cells to align in a   pearl-chain fashion. When the device was turned off, the cells  reassumed a random  distribution. With such a pearl-chain alignment,  blood cells can more  efficiently pass through a given vascular space,  like cars traveling in the  same direction on parallel lanes instead of  "bumper" cars. 

            As  in all injuries, the rate of blood flow affects recovery  after SCI.  Specifically, the injury to the cord compromises blood  flow, which, as a  consequence, aggravates neurological damage. The  importance of this issue was  emphasized in a recent SCI conference  where Dr. H. Crock (London, UK), probably  the world's foremost expert  on spinal cord circulation, stressed that blood  flow is the primary  factor that needs to be addressed after SCI (insert link).  Given  Diapulse's ability to enhance blood-flow, it is not surprising that   studies indicate that it promotes healing after SCI.

ANIMAL STUDIES: The first  scientists to  focus on Diapulse's neuronal regeneration properties were Drs. D.   Wilson and P. Jagadeesh (Leeds, UK, 1975). After demonstrating that the  device  stimulates regeneration in rats with peripheral nerve injuries  (i.e., those  outside of the brain and spinal cord), they examined its  effects on cats whose  spinal cords were half cut (hemicordotomy). Three  months after hemicordotomy,  compared to controls, Diapulse improved  functional recovery, reduced scar  formation and adhesions, increased  the number of axons transversing the injury  site, and promoted the  integration of peripheral nerve grafts that had been  inserted to bridge  the lesion.

            Drs.  A. Raji and R. Bowden (London, UK, 1983) also  demonstrated that Diapulse  enhances regeneration and remyelination of  rat peripheral nerves after  transection. 

            Because  surgeons are beginning to use peripheral nerve  tissue to bridge spinal cord  lesions in human, Diapulse's ability to  accelerate regeneration in peripheral  tissue also has important  therapeutic implications for SCI. 

            Dr.  Wise Young (New York, 1984) showed that Diapulse  reduces calcium at the injury  site in cats injured through impact, (an  injury that resembles most human SCI).  Because calcium causes secondary  neuronal cell death, this Diapulse-induced  reduction lessened  neurological damage and, in turn, preserved function. 

            Specifically,  Young reported that 1) the majority of  Diapulse-treated cats were walking four  months after surgery compared  to none in the control group and 2) that the  device was superior to  treatment with the steroid methylprednisolone, now  considered a  post-injury treatment standard. 

HUMAN STUDIES: Dr. M. Weiss, et  al  (Warsaw, Poland) carried out a promising SCI study in 1980. Weiss, who   interestingly was funded by the U.S. Veterans Administration for  developing  another innovative SCI approach, arranged for acutely  injured patients to be  picked up by helicopter and brought to Warsaw  where they were treated with  Diapulse. Of the 97 treated patients, 38  had pronounced neurological  improvement; of these, 28 had substantial  functional gains, and 18 were  discharged with only slight impairment of  the extremities. Although this  preliminary study lacked controls,  these are impressive statistics, which, at  minimum, warrant study  replication. Unfortunately, because Weiss died soon  after publishing  these initial results, combined with post-communism social  upheaval,  this promising research was not continued.

            Dr.  W. Ellis (1987) anecdotally noted that PEMF given for  pain in patients with  chronic SCI resulted in sensory or motor  improvement in 7 of 13 patients. Ellis  hypothesized that these fields  can normalize viable but dysfunctional neuronal  structures.

            In  another posted article, a surgical procedure was  discussed in which olfactory  tissue was transplanted into the injury  site of individuals with chronic SCI to  restore function. Working with  the lead surgeon Dr. C. Lima (Portugal), Ross  treated two Americans  with quadriplegia with Diapulse several days before and  after surgery  to promote neuronal regeneration. 

HEAD INJURY: In large clinical  trials, Dr.  M. Sambasivan (India, 1993) showed that Diapulse therapy reduces   cerebral edema and mortality after traumatic-brain-injury.

SCI PRESSURE SORES: In 1991, the  Eastern  Paralyzed Veterans Association gave several Diapulse devices to a   nearby VA hospital to treat SCI-associated pressure sores, and, in turn,  funded  a double-blind study by Dr. C. A. Salzberg et al (Valhalla, NY,  1995) which  showed that Diapulse-treated patients with such sores  healed on average in 13  compared to 31.5 days for controls.

CONCLUSION: Compelling  evidence indicates  that Diapulse-generated pulsed electromagnetic fields exert   neuroprotective and regenerative influences when administered soon after  SCI.  Although its true SCI therapeutic potential still needs to be  determined, if Diapulse  represented a more familiar pharmaceutical  approach, the biomedical research  community would be elated given this  amount of positive preliminary evidence  and pushing it to the forefront  for further scrutiny instead of letting it  languish on the sidelines.  Our neglect may have adversely affected the many of  those currently  living with SCI. For the sake of all those who sustain a SCI in  the  future, let's once and for all objectively evaluate its healing  potential.