Bioelectricity Intro


Cook County Electrical


 Trauma Study Group

The fundamental importance of bioelectricity can be appreciated when we consider that one of the critical physicochemical properties of water and of most biomolecules placed into water is their propensity to dissociate into charged ions. 


This holds for organic molecules (containing carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen), monoatomic elements (Na, K, Mg, Ca, Cl) and trace elements (Mn, Fe, Cu, Zn, etc.). 


This property is responsible for much of the reactivity of these molecules in biological systems and thereby, for the structure and biological properties of lipids, proteins, nucleic acids, and biological membranes as well. 


This property is essential for maintaining physiological pH throughout the tissues of the body and to all reactions requiring metal ion co-factors including enzymatic reactions for energy metabolism, protein phosphorylation, DNA and RNA synthesis, and membrane ATPase activity. 


This property is ultimately responsible for numerous bioelectric phenomena at the molecular and cellular level including the existence of trans-membrane potentials in all living cells, ion movements through channels in cell membranes, the propagation of impulses along nerve axons, the intrinsic beating of cardiac myocytes, the contraction of all types of muscle (skeletal, smooth, and cardiac), and much more.


This central position of bioelectric phenomena in living organisms has broad implications in medicine that have been exploited to produce widely used diagnostic techniques such as electrocardiography (ECG, EKG), electromyography (EMG), and electroencephalography (EEG). 


In addition, numerous treatment modalities have emerged including Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) for pain control, defibrillators and cardioverters for interrupting highly irregular cardiac rhythms and re-establishing normal rhythm, pacemakers for maintaining normal cardiac rhythm, electrostimulators for encouraging bone and soft tissue growth, and electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) for treating severe depression and certain forms of mental illness.  


Understandably, exogenously applied electric fields or discharges can also disrupt many life-sustaining physiological processes that require a normal bioelectrical milieu. 


Lightning strikes, shocks from household current or industrial accidents involving exposure to powerful AC or DC currents can cause life-threatening disruptions of these processes. 


In addition, exposure to other types of exogenous fields such as weak electric or magnetic fields from environmental sources, electromagnetic emissions from cell phones, or discharges from electromuscular incapacitation (stun) devices have been under increasing scrutiny for possible disruptive physiological effects. 


Further research into these and related areas involving exogenous and endogenous electrical phenomena is essential so that physiological and health implications of exposure can be more fully appreciated.



Questions or comments?  Contact:  cookcountytrauma AT 

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