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This can help muscles heal faster after injury

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Jiya Saini
Jiya Saini is a Journalist and Writer at Revyuh.com. She has been working with us since January 2018. After studying at Jamia Millia University, she is fascinated by smart lifestyle and smart living. She covers technology, games, sports and smart living, as well as good experience in press relations. She is also a freelance trainer for macOS and iOS, and In the past, she has worked with various online news magazines in India and Singapore. Email: jiya (at) revyuh (dot) com

This technique has been used for over 3,000 years to alleviate painful muscles. Today, many sportsmen swear by it to help their bodies recover after intense exercise.

The findings, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, say that massages don’t just relax your body, they make your muscles heal faster and stronger

In studies on mice, the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences discovered that mechanotherapy not only relaxes muscles but also speeds up the healing process.

The research team used a custom-designed robotic apparatus to apply a continuous force into the legs of mice that matched massage strokes. They discovered that the robotic system, which applied mechanical pressure to the bones, rapidly removed immune cells known as neutrophils from severely wounded muscle tissues. This mechanism also eliminated the inflammatory substances, known as cytokines, generated by neutrophils from the muscles, which improved muscle fiber regeneration – a vital step in the healing process.

“Lots of people have been trying to study the beneficial effects of massage and other mechanotherapies on the body, but up to this point it hadn’t been done in a systematic, reproducible way. Our work shows a very clear connection between mechanical stimulation and immune function. This has promise for regenerating a wide variety of tissues including bone, tendon, hair, and skin, and can also be used in patients with diseases that prevent the use of drug-based interventions,” says Dr. Bo Ri Seo, first author of the study, in a university release.

Several years ago, the study authors began investigating the effects of mechanotherapy on injured tissues in mice and discovered that it quadrupled the rate of muscle regeneration and reduced tissue scarring over the course of two weeks. Excited by the prospect of mechanical stimulation alone promoting regeneration and muscular function, the researchers proceeded to delve more into how the process worked in the body in order to optimise the healing process. They collaborated with Wyss Institute “soft robotics” experts lead by Dr. Conor Walsh, a professor of Engineering and Applied Science at SEAS, to develop a small device that employed sensors to monitor and adjust the force applied to a mouse’s limb.

“The device we created allows us to precisely control parameters like the amount and frequency of force applied, enabling a much more systematic approach to understanding tissue healing than would be possible with a manual approach,” says robotics engineer Dr. Christopher Payne.

When the device was ready, the scientists applied pressure to the mouse’s leg muscles with a soft silicone tip and used an ultrasound scan to see what occurred to the tissue in response.

The authors of the study used the ultrasound data to create a model that could estimate the amount of strained tissue after applying varying levels of pressure to the wounded location. They next delivered the steady, repeated stress to the damaged muscles for two weeks.

While both the treated and untreated muscle fibers showed evidence of healing over that time frame, the treated muscles showed a more significant improvement, indicating that the treatment was effective. The researchers also discovered that when they applied more stress to the wounded muscles, they were stronger, confirming that mechanotherapy enhances muscular healing after injury.

The scientists also confirmed that the mechanotherapy force efficiently squeezed neutrophil immune cells and cytokine proteins out of the wounded tissue. They conducted more research on how these immune cells effect muscle fiber regeneration.

“These findings are remarkable because they indicate that we can influence the function of the body’s immune system in a drug-free, non-invasive way. This provides great motivation for the development of external, mechanical interventions to help accelerate and improve muscle and tissue healing that have the potential to be rapidly translated to the clinic,” Dr. Walsh concludes.

He and his colleagues have sought to create wearable electronics for disease diagnosis and treatment. The researchers also intend to test it on various types of ailments, such as age-related muscle atrophy and muscle performance augmentation.

The findings appear in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

Image Credit: Getty

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