Date of Award

2002

Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Physical Therapy (MPT)

Department

Physical Therapy

First Advisor

Susan H.N. Jeno

Keywords

Lumbar Vertebrae; Magnetics

Abstract

Magnets have been used for therapeutic purposes for hundreds of years. Today, magnetic devices and other alternative therapies are more popular than ever among the general public. The effect of these magnetic devices is dependent on several variables including strength, depth of penetration, placement, time exposed to the magnetic field, and polarity. There are many proposed theories on how magnets affect the body, but there is little research to support them. One of the theories proposed is that magnets alter connective tissue elasticity and allow greater range of motion (ROM). Additional research needs to be conducted to validate or negate these proposed theories.

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of magnetic insoles on lumbar flexion. The study also evaluated the placebo effect of having knowledge of the theoretical effects of a strong magnetic insole on lumbar flexion measurements.

Thirty-eight subjects between the ages of 20 and 49 participated in this double blind study. A participant survey was used to collect general demographic data and as a screening tool to exclude those with any pathology and/or conditions that could have been adversely affected by the magnets or testing procedure positions/movements. For Trial 1, active flexion at the lumbar spine was measured by the double inclinometer method at baseline and on each of the three different sets of insoles. Two sets of insoles contained magnets, each of which was of a different strength, while the third insole did not contain any magnets. The measurements were repeated in Trial 2 to evaluate the placebo effect. No significant difference was found when comparing lumbar ROM across the three insoles for either trial. A significant difference was found in ROM for lumbar flexion between males and females on all insoles.

Although this study found no increase in lumbar flexion when standing on magnetic insoles, these results cannot be carried over to other possible effects of magnetic devices. The results of this study have provided additional information regarding the effects of magnetic devices on healthy subjects and have illustrated the need for further research on the various magnetic devices that have become so popular.

Future research may further evaluate the effects of magnet therapy by including individuals with impairments, other magnetic devices, various magnet placement methods, and various treatment durations. Only as research accumulates will consumers be able to make informed decisions regarding the use of magnetic devices as an alternative therapy.

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