Environmental impact of the use of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields in physiotherapeutic treatment

Rocz Panstw Zakl Hig. 2014;65(1):55-61.


Background: Electromagnetic fields used in physiotherapeutic treatment affect not only patients, but also physiotherapists, patients not undergoing treatment and electronic medical equipment.

Objective: The aim of the work was to study the parameters of the electromagnetic fields of physiotherapeutic devices with respect to requirements regarding the protection of electronic devices, including medical implants, against electromagnetic intererence, and the protection of the general public (patients not undergoing treatment and bystanders), as well as medical personnel, against the health hazards caused by electromagnetic exposure.

Material and methods: The spatial distribution of electric and magnetic field strength was investigated near 3 capacitive short-wave and 3 long-wave diathermies and 3 ultrasound therapy units, as along with the capacitive electric currents caused by electromagnetic field interaction in the upper limbs of the physiotherapists operating these devices.

Results: The physiotherapists' exposure to electromagnetic fields depends on the spatial organisation of the workspace and their location during treatment. Electric fields able to interfere with the function of electronic medical implants and in whic anyone not undergoing treatment should not be present were measured up to 150-200 cm away from active applicators of short-wave diathermy, and up to 40-45 cm away from long-wave diathermy ones. Electric fields in which workers should not be present were measured up to 30-40 cm away from the applicators and cables of active short-wave diathermy devices. A capacitive electric current with a strength exceeding many times the international recommendations regarding workers protection was measured in the wrist while touching applicators and cables of active short-wave diathermy devices.

Conclusions: The strongest environmental electromagnetic hazards occur near short-wave diathermy devices, and to a lesser degree near long-wave diathermy devices, but were not found near ultrasound therapy units.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Diathermy
  • Electromagnetic Fields*
  • Environment
  • Equipment Design
  • Female
  • Health Personnel*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Occupational Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Occupational Exposure / analysis*
  • Patient Safety
  • Physical Therapy Modalities / instrumentation*
  • Prostheses and Implants
  • Radiation Injuries / prevention & control*
  • Radiation Monitoring*
  • Short-Wave Therapy / instrumentation