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Singapore: Magnetic Muscle Therapy Reversing Ageing Trends

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Digital innovation empowers ageing individuals by promoting better health management, social engagement, cognitive stimulation, safety, and access to resources, ultimately improving their overall quality of life.

While ageing is frequently accompanied by a deterioration in functional mobility, loss of muscle strength, and an increase in body fat, this trend could be reversed thanks to a novel magnetic muscle therapy developed by researchers at the National University of Singapore (NUS).

Weekly exposure to very low levels of proprietary pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) using the BIXEPS device invented by NUS researchers in 2019 is associated with significant improvements in mobility and body composition after 12 weeks, particularly in older people, according to a recent community study conducted in Singapore involving 101 participants aged 38 to 91 years old. After three months of magnetic muscle therapy, participants reported reduced pain perception.

Associate Professor Alfredo Franco-Obregón, who led the research team and is a Principal Investigator with NUS iHealthtech and co-founder of QuantumTX, says that the BIXEPS device uses a specific magnetic signature to target the muscles in a user’s leg and create metabolic activity in the cells, just like when a person exercises.

Studies from the past showed that when magnetic muscle treatment was used on one leg after knee surgery, the whole body’s metabolism improved. This was mostly seen as changes in the blood lipid profiles. That is, the effect went beyond just the leg that was treated and led to changes throughout the whole body.

After eight weeks of treatment, 72% of individuals reported improved skeletal muscle maintenance along with reductions in total and visceral fats, with 85% of subjects reporting improvements in functional mobility after 12 weeks, most notably among the elderly.

These encouraging findings suggest that this PEMF-based technology could be a beneficial adjunct to traditional geriatric therapies aimed at lowering the prevalence of frailty and metabolic diseases in the elderly population.

Importantly, visceral fat is an inflammatory fat that has been linked to a variety of metabolic diseases, including diabetes. Previous research has found that people in Southeast Asia retain visceral fat more persistently than persons in other regions of the world, despite exercise.

As a result, people in Southeast Asia get diabetes at a lower BMI than persons of other ethnicities. This has created a significant challenge for the Southeast Asian health business. Researchers finally have a solution to this local healthcare dilemma in the form of magnetic field therapy.

Based on the promising findings of the community study, the team has collaborated with research groups in the United States and Hong Kong to perform randomised controlled clinical studies to further validate the advantages of frailty across various ageing groups.

Since 2022, the team has also begun a senior-focused study with 200 elders across four Singapore community care centres to assess how the technology can improve function and ease chronic problems. This research is projected to be completed in 2023.

Real-world pilot data from current community programmes have also shown promise of improved HbA1c control – the most common measure for diabetes progression – after beginning weekly BIXEPS sessions.

The research team is currently collaborating with the Singapore General Hospital to perform a clinical trial to evaluate further the therapeutic potential of PEMF-based therapies for diabetes progression management.


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