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4207 Lindell Blvd. # 110
St. Louis, Missouri,63108
Post-Polio Health International's mission is to enhance the lives and independence of polio survivors and home ventilator users through education, advocacy, research and networking. ... more.
Chief of Staff of the Program
Chairman of the Department of Community Medicine
Positions and Various Study Sections
Board of Directors for Healthcare
University of Tennessee , Memphis
Rehabilitaion Baylor University , College of Medicine Houston
About PHI: Board and Committee Members
Carlos Vallbona, MD
The Institute for Rehabilitation& Research (TIRR), Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas
Post-Polio Health, Vol. 14, No. 1
Carlos Vallbona, MD, Baylor College of Medicine/Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Houston Texas, and Carlton F. Hazlewood, PhD
Post-Polio Health International - Calendar of Events
Post-Polio Syndrome Symposium, Hotel Camino Real Ciudad de Mexico, Mariano Escobedo 700, Colonia Anzures, Mexico, D.F. Keynote speaker: Dr. Carlos Vallbona, Director of the Post-Polio Clinic at the instittue of Rehabilitation and Research (TIRR), Houston, Texas.
Experience relief with Magnetic Therapy
In 1993, a patient of Carlos Vallbona, M.D., told him that a cushion made with small magnets had cured his lower back pain.Vallbona was skeptical."I thought it was a psychological effect," he recalls.After hearing story after story like these from his patients, Vallbona, the director of the Post-Polio Clinic at the Institute for Rehabilition and Research, affiliated with Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, was interested enough to attend a 1994 conference on the effects of magnetic fields.What he learned led him to suspect there might be something to magnet therapy after all.He and his colleague Carleton Hazelblood, M.D., designed a double-blind study to test the effect of magnets on 50 patients suffering from pain associated with post-polio syndrome.What he found piqued the interest of even the staunchest critics of magnet therapy.In the study, Vallbona examined the effects of one specific type of magnet known as a "concentric circles" magnet.He had some subjects hold these permanent magnets (permanent magnets have a static magnetic field) on points where they felt the most intense pain, and others hold inactive magnets.All were told to keep them in place for 45 minutes.After the magnets were removed, seventy-five percent of the patients who used active magnets reported a significant reduction in pain.Only 19 percent of the patients in the control group, however, experienced even a small decrease in pain.No side effects were reported.Vallbona published these results in the November 1997 issue of the Archives of Physical Medicine mid Rehabilitation.Vallbona's study did not explore how long this effect might last, but he has continued to follow the progress of participants, and the preliminary results look promising."Many patients reported that the effect lasted not only hours but also days, weeks, even months in some cases," he says."So we have the impression that the relief brought about by magnets is lasting longer than relief by painkilling drugs."Vallbona is not the only researcher finding promising results, in a controlled setting, neurobiologist Alvaro Pascual-Leone, M.D., Ph.D., and his colleagues atVallbona suggests that the magnetic field may affect painreceptors in the painful area, eliciting a slight anesthetic effect, or that themagnetic field might be transmitted via blood vessels to the brain, which thenreleases endorphins, chemicals that act as natural pain relievers.Theories are one thing, facts are another, which is why Vallbona has plans for further research on magnets.In the meantime, since he completed his study with the post-polio patients, he has been successfully treating his own injured shoulder with two small magnets.And he now takes along several magnets whenever he travels--just in case he needs them.RELATED ARTICLE: ARE MAGNETS FOR YOU?· Carlos Vallbona, M.D., whose landmark study gave credence to magnettherapy, cautions people against treating themselves with permanent magnets.He emphasizes the fact that his study explored the effects of only one type ofmagnetic field on one type of pain.Further studies will be needed before
"The majority of patients in the study who received treatment with a magnet reported a significant decrease in pain, and most of the patients who were given a placebo, or inactive magnet, reported very little or no improvement," says principal investigator Dr. Carlos Vallbona.He is a professor of family and community medicine and physical medicine and rehabilitation at Baylor and director of the Post- Polio Clinic at TIRR.Dr. Vallbona evaluated the magnet therapy in adults diagnosed with post-polio syndrome who were experiencing arthritic pain in the joints or had identifiable points of pain in their muscles."Seventy-six percent of the patients who had the active magnet reported a decrease in pain, but only 19 percent of the patients treated with a placebo felt an improvement," Dr. Vallbona says.None of the patients reported any side effects from the treatment."We do not have a clear explanation for the significant and quick pain relief observed by the patients in our study," Dr. Vallbona says."It's possible that the magnetic energy affects the pain receptors in the joints or muscles or lowers the sensation of pain in the brain."The Baylor-TIRR study consisted of one treatment per patient and did not evaluate how long the reported pain relief lasted.Dr. Vallbona says more research is needed to determine whether magnet therapy should be recommended as an alternative to the standard treatments for pain in post-polio patients, such as physical therapy, support braces, muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatory drugs and other medication.