Mimi Murphy's Medical Breakthroughs: Osteoporosis Mat

Medical Breakthroughs
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A healthy diet, exercise and medication are typically what doctors prescribe for the more than 10 million women and men who suffer from osteoporosis in this country. Now, what you sleep on may also help prevent bone loss.

Inside a thin mat are 200 layers of aluminum and polyester, materials that may hold the key to treating and preventing osteoporosis.

"When a person lies on the mat, the layers of material rub together and create this very low level electrical field," said Geriatrician Karen Prestwood, M.D.

Researchers from the Center on Aging at the University of Connecticut in Farmington believe that electrical field builds bone density and stimulates calcium growth when patients sleep the mat.

"The mat can act as a capacitor so that when a person lies on it, this energy is emitted and it is thought it may affect bones," Dr. Prestwood said.

Half of the 70 women in the study sleep on the electromagnetic mat and half on a placebo mat. Agnes Perrault is a volunteer. She doesn't have osteoporosis yet, and hopes to keep it that way.

"I really am into preventative medicine, or whatever. I would rather do something now than have some sort of condition," Perrault tells Ivanhoe.

Bone activity is monitored through changes in blood and urine, which are taken every six weeks.

"The implications are huge because this would be a simple, noninvasive, inexpensive way to treat osteoporosis," Dr. Prestwood said.

The study is also looking at whether sleeping on the mat can boost the immune system.

For more information contact:

Jane Shaskan
Office of Communications
University of Connecticut Health Center
(860) 679-4777