Title of study: Acoustic Field of a Ballistic Shock Wave Therapy Device
Authors: Robin Olav Cleveland, Parag V Chitnis, Scott R Mcclure
A recent study analyzed the acoustic fields generated by a ballistic source used in shock wave therapy (SWT) devices. SWT is a non-invasive treatment for musculoskeletal conditions such as plantar fascitis and dystrophic mineralization of tendons and joint capsules.
The ballistic source, which consists of a handpiece that fires a projectile at a metal applicator on the skin, generates stress waves that transmit as pressure waves into tissue. The study found that the acoustic fields generated by the device did not create true shock waves.
Measurements of the acoustic field of two applicators, one slightly convex and 15 mm in diameter and the other concave and 12 mm in diameter, revealed that the region of high pressure was restricted to the near-field of the source and was consistent with the Rayleigh distance.
While other SWT devices that use electrohydraulic, electromagnetic, and piezoelectric sources do result in focused shock waves, this study suggests that the acoustic fields generated by ballistic sources may have a different mechanism of action.
Despite these findings, SWT continues to be a popular and effective treatment option for many individuals suffering from musculoskeletal conditions. By generating pressure waves that stimulate the body’s natural healing processes, SWT can reduce pain and inflammation, promote tissue repair, and improve joint function.
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