In their day to day treatment activities, physical therapists will incorporate a large and varied assortment of physical therapy equipment. In addition to the usual strengthening and conditioning equipment that may first come to mind, the physical therapy setting will also include a number of electrophysical modalities or electrophysical agents (EPA).
A modality is defined as a ‘method of treatment.’ The term ‘electrophysical modality’ is often used to describe a device powered by electricity that is used to achieve a physiologically therapeutic effect. Such devices include ultrasound, interferential, and TENS among others. These devices are used to achieve various effects including pain relief, swelling reduction, increases in local blood flow, and scar tissue breakdown.
Initially this section will describe the main electrophysical agents used in the physical therapy setting but over time it will be expanded to include other forms of equipment including biofeedback, muscle stim, and real time ultrasound (RTUS) which don’t necessarily have a direct therapeutic effect but are used more for exercise enhancement and muscle control / training.
Electrophysical Agents (EPA) / Modalities
- Ultrasound – for an introduction to ultrasound, please see Therapeutic Ultrasound in Physical Therapy.
- Interferential Current (IFC) – for an introduction to interferential current, please see Interferential Current in Physical Therapy.
- Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS)
- Shockwave Therapy – for an introduction to Shockwave Therapy, please see Shockwave Therapy / Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy (ESWT)