"Pulsed Electro-magnetic Field Therapy" to Treat Autism

“I have been hearing about both the 'PEMF' mat and 'neurotherapy' which people are making huge claims about - lots of testimonials about the wonders it has done for their autistic or Asperger's children (some have used the word 'cured) but I have yet to see anything I would consider REAL evidence (all anecdotal and no one I actually know personally).   Do you have any experience with either of these, and can you make any recommendations, or do these fall into the 'if it sounds too good to be true...' category?” 

Pulsed Electro-magnetic Field Therapy (PEMFT) is a healing procedure most commonly used in the field of orthopedics for the treatment of congenital pseudarthrosis, depression, fractures, and failed fusions. PEMFT uses electrical energy to direct a series of magnetic pulses through injured tissue. Each pulse induces a tiny electrical signal that stimulates cellular repair.



Some research has demonstrated the effectiveness of PEMFT in suppressing inflammatory responses at the cell membrane level to alleviate pain, increasing range of motion, and healing soft-tissue wounds. There are several electrical stimulation therapy devices (FDA approved) that are available for patient use. The use of PEMFT to treat various diseases and mental illness is not commonly known by most physicians in the U.S. since it’s not yet part of the curriculum offered in medical school.

How does PEMFT relate to autism spectrum disorders?

Structural differences between autistic and “normal” brains contribute to the symptoms of autism, (e.g., sensory overload, repetitive behaviors, social skills deficits, communication problems, etc.). In one research study, autistic patients showed fewer symptoms of hyperactivity, sensory overload and repetitive behaviors at the end of the treatment period. The study also revealed that treatment did not diminish areas of "giftedness" that are often present in high-functioning autism.

Preliminary results show a great deal of promise in reducing the severity of symptoms that children and teens on the autism spectrum find most upsetting (specifically depression and sensory overload). But, needless to say, more research needs to be conducted before we can say, categorically, that PEMFT is a “must have” treatment modality in a parent’s arsenal of interventions.

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