A study into the non-invasive manipulation of skin blood flow utilizing electrotherapy techniques integrating Eastern and Western research to create an engaging, open-ended classroom experiences.
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The research to date, of transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation on cutaneous blood flow, is equivocal. The purpose of this report is to review the TENS body of knowledge, in particular synthesizing the literature on acupuncture stimulation of cutaneous blood flow with the two fold goal of creating a protocol to increase skin blood flow through the exogenous application of electrical stimulation, as well as creating an engaging engineering challenge for high school anatomy and physiology students. The hypothesis developed was TENS stimulation with electrode placement on specific acupuncture points would influence cutaneous blood flow as measured using laser Doppler flowmetry. The findings of this project did not support the hypothesis of TENS or Interferential electrical stimulation, in combination with acupuncture points or not, influencing skin blood flow. Perhaps this is due to the physiological differences between glabrous and non-glabrous skin and the different electrical resistances of each dermal layer, nerve stimulation, age and gender of subject or some combination thereof. These equivocal findings may also be the result of inconsistencies in testing protocols, such as subject preconditioning or not, subject’s position during administration of stimulation, electrode size and placement to name a few. Ultimately, this report provides a summary of the research to date, as well as outlining how this research could be adapted to supply engaging bio engineering challenges in the classroom including challenges to develop a model for delivering current to muscle; develop a model for skin blood flow management to name a few.