I have had the pleasure of caring for a beautiful 8 year old girl that was born with esophageal atresia. Following multiple surgeries and endoscopies, she has had complete repair of the atresia. However, her most recent Modified Barium Swallow (12/2022) revealed lack of smooth muscle peristalsis in the esophagus, for which she has compensated by taking large drinks after every few bites of food. Additionally, laryngoscopy has revealed she has unilateral vocal fold paralysis, which has resulted in stridor and dyspnea with exercise, a chronically hoarse and raspy voice, and vocal fatigue.
Recognizing that all medical/surgical interventions had been tried that could give her improvement, this child’s mother asked me about trying Pulsed ElectroMagnetic Field (PEMF) therapy. Knowing that PEMF therapy is 100% safe in her situation, I agreed to a trial of PEMF treatments, advising her mother that this should be viewed as an alternative medicine modality, without any guarantee of improvement.
Over the course of the next 11 weeks, she had 18 PEMF sessions (each session lasting 20 minutes). Below is an excerpt from my visit note, describing what this patient and her mother have noticed since starting PEMF therapy: “My breathing is better”. No longer having stridor. Does not get as winded when running. When swimming, does not need to take as many breaks; able to now swim the length of the pool without resting. When speaking, she does not need to take nearly as many breaks in her speech to breathe. Able to sing easier. Mom notes more clarity in her voice, not nearly as gravelly. Other family members have also commented on the improved speech. Also, mom notes she is no longer needing to sleep in a semiupright position. Now sleeping on her side or back most nights (indicating that acid reflux is no longer an issue).. Denies dysphagia or odynophagia. Mom notes she is able to eat faster, not having to slow down to coordinate eating and breathing. No longer needing to drink a lot of water to push the food down when eating.
This child’s grandmother is also a patient of mine. She was in the office a few weeks ago, and with tears of joy, was excitedly telling me about the improvement she had seen in her granddaughter -- speaking more clearly, and having more energy, not looking nearly as winded throughout the day. Since there is improvement in her GI and respiratory symptoms, I have advised taking a break from PEMF and beginning vocal/speech therapy to teach her the techniques (and benefits of) proper posture, diaphragm support, and appropriate mouth positioning for enunciation (she speaks through a closed jaw). Due to the functionally narrowed airway (due to vocal fold hemiparalysis), she has learned compensatory mechanisms that make speech easier for her; now we can teach her appropriate methods of speaking to achieve the maximum benefit from the therapies she has had thus far.
I continue to be amazed at the improvement that I have seen in some of my PEMF patients!Jason Hoke, MD, Hoke Direct Primary Care, Oxford, Ohio
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