Homedics – IHeal
by Matt Hodges
15 November 2012
I was approached by Homedics earlier this year to try out a few of their IHeal devices on our clients. As a chronic bad back sufferer for many years I’m always open to finding new and innovative ways of dealing with the stresses of pain whether it’s through manual manipulation or through technology. However, that being said, I’m no pushover and I immediately requested research and case studies that backed up their product. The IHeal uses PEMF technology (Pulsed Electro Magnetic Field) which has been widely used across the world since the 1970’s and more so in Scandinavia, whose clinics report that more than 80% have benefited from the treatment. Does the ‘world’s smallest, most effective & versatile PEMF therapy unit’ work? Let’s see….
After a lengthy period of looking into the research I gave it a go myself before I entertained the idea of trying it on clients. To give you a brief overview I slipped disc L5/S1 four years ago and it still plays up from time to time even though I have a strong core and STILL do all the main compound lifts. When it does kick in however it lasts for a lot longer than before (maybe that’s age?). I gave the device a go for 2 months and to my surprise it did work. The sharp pains that I had been feeling started to go away and it felt pretty good. I used the unit overnight for the recommended time (10 hours max). Whether this was a placebo effect I do not know but either way it still had a positive affect on me physiologically and mentally. Those who have back issues know how stressful they can be. Half the battle is to stop thinking about the pain.
From my positive experience I then handed some of the units to my guys at The MPH Method including Tim Allardyce (our Physiotherapist/Osteopath) to try on some of our clients. The results that came back were varied:
Client 1: LCL tear – Made significant improvements in pain relief through the quadriceps.
Client 2: Restless Legs – Didn’t quite know where to place the device and subsequently minor results.
Client 3: Multiple slipped discs – lumbar spine – Little to no relief.
Client 4: Degenerative Disc Disease – Lumbar spine – Some relief although the period of treatment was 3 months.
Client 5: Undiagnosed Neck pain – Improvements in surrounding soft tissue.
Client 6: Forearm overuse – Improved over short period of time.
Client 7: DOMS – Didn’t see any more of an increase in recovery time.
It’s hard to say whether this unit really does do what it says on the tin. To know exactly when there is 30% recovery is nigh on impossible without scientific research so, we the general public, have to go on our feelings. As you can see from the small tests we undertook that there is mixed feelings as to whether the unit is effective. The thing is Homedics do not market this product as a skeletal solution rather that it’s more of a muscular solution and that limits it somewhat. By treating the surrounding areas of more severe trauma you are allowing some form of therapy but it’s questionable to how significant those gains are that you would go and buy a unit like this. All that said, the unit is fairly easy to use, it’s small, it doesn’t need cables or creams and it sticks to you with no fuss including a 200 hour battery life.
As we mentioned before, it’s difficult to tell how effective this really is so shelling out £49.99 for it seems a little steep when you don’t really quite know what’s going on. The unit might be small and inconspicuous but that doesn’t always work – have it on your back overnight, forget about it and then step into a shower and you can say goodbye to your £49.99! I’ve also noticed that a lot of the marketing pictures that Homedics use have two devices on the body which isn’t stated in the in-box information. I don’t like to think that we need multiple units as it defeats the purpose of the small discreet devices.
Purely talking from my own experience it’s a decent product that works as a slight pain reliever. I’ve had more back issues since I started using this and I haven’t gone back to it – which says a lot really. I don’t think it made my life significantly better to warrant keeping it on all the time. As a muscle relaxant it works but for the most part many people struggle with skeletal issues that present itself muscularly and we must treat them accordingly through training, strengthening and manual therapy. I don’t think a small device will ever replace the osteopath and physiotherapist, however for those that can’t afford therapy or those that don’t have the time then try the IHeal, you might be one of those people who do benefit from its use.