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It goes without saying that the old man is not in so good condition to see "himsel" as "ithers" see him as a young man would be, and as he comes nearer to the jumping-off place he gets less and less fit for the effort. It is not prudent to skate too far out on the ice of which one does not know the strength and thickness: better stop and see if it is safe for fear one will come to grief in the cold water. There is a stopping place somewhere just ahead and sometime everyone will find it, and how is the old man to know, since he cannot see for himself, when he has reached the spot. Evidently there is no way but to make a little trial and watch the result. This paper is an effort in that direction. If an unfavorable impression has been created, serve the writer as the old Romans did their wounded and inefficient gladiators, turn down your thumbs and put him out of his misery.
[TO BE CONTINUED.]
EXPERIENCE WITH STATIC ELECTRICITY.*
BY NEIL A. GATES, M. D., DEXTER, MICHIGAN.
It is not my intention to delve into ancient history and dilate on the antiquity of static electricity as a factor in the treatment of disease conditions, but simply to report a few cases from an experience extending over the past seven years, and endeavor to demonstrate that this therapeutic agent is not to be regarded with indifference by the general practitioner. It may not, however, be amiss to say that from the year 1750, when it was first introduced into medicine, it has made rapid strides in advancement, until in the year 1905, when by being the best electrical means of exciting a vacuum tube for x-ray work, it has become not an expensive luxury but an absolute necessity, and even the humblest of practitioners cannot afford to be without its valuable aid. It is a means which we should all employ rather than relinquish to the practice of specialists. The startling results achieved with electricity in relieving aches and pains and in the treatment of a large proportion of nervous ailments due to our strenuous and unnatural mode of life, render the static machine an important acquisition to the armamentarium of the successful physician.
In this paper, owing to lack of time, I will confine my remarks to the treatment of disease conditions by static electricity alone, although I am well aware that since its entrance into the interesting and wonderful field of r-ray work its past usefulness seems to have been overshadowed and left in the hands of a few. To be successful, there are some duties we owe to our machine and many points we must always bear in mind.
We must have a reliable machine, large enough to obtain good results. A great percentage of those who have tried static electricity and reaped disappointment must ascribe failure to small and cheap machines. There are many firms now making machines which,
*Read before the WASHTENAW COUNTY (Ann Arbor) MEDICAL SOCIETY.
although they present a fine appearance in the office, are practically worthless, for, by reason of cheap construction, they will not work in all conditions of weather and soon wear out even under the most favorable treatment. I can readily see how a brother practitioner, having obtained one of these machines, soon becomes discouraged and convinced that the usefulness of static electricity is confined to the good impression a patient receives by being treated with so large and formidable an apparatus. That this is erroneous, and that static electricity penetrates to the deeper organs and cures, not by hypnotizing, but by relieving inflammatory conditions, I shall endeavor to prove.
To get the best results one must have a suitable room and surroundings, generally the more room around the platform the better, and, most essential of all, two good ground wires. With a modern machine, given a little attention each day, one can use it with the best of results every day in the year.
Physicians must study patients. We all know that electricity of any kind is very disagreeable to some patients, but by carefully giving a short treatment with static insulation, and then following with the static breeze, demonstrating that the patient is not to be subjected to sudden shocks, the benefit derived will soon convince each that he is on the road to health, and the operator will be surprised to learn that these timid patients soon withstand a long spark and even insist upon having it, the relief from pain being so great that any inconvenience for the moment is soon forgotten. One will learn that a patient will readily take treatment when he finds that it is unnecessary to remove any part of his clothing. Think of the saving of time to a busy practitioner when a patient comes from the street and without delay steps upon the platform, receives treatment and departs without removing and replacing wearing apparel.
One must also take into consideration the material of the patient's clothing, whether woolen or cotton, and remember where pins and steels are likely to be concealed. In giving treatments one must always exercise the greatest care not to unnecessarily alarm the patient by accidentally touching him or placing him too near objects in the room. This is especially true if the patient is dressed with woolen clothes.
A great many operators recognize no difference between the positive and negative poles of the machine. This is a great mistake, for the positive pole acts as a stimulant and the negative as a sedative. This refers to general electrification only, for in the employment of the breeze and spark the reverse is true. A physician can readily see that he must understand the condition of the patient as well as the machine, and I will add that the better one attends to these details the better will be the result.
Without consuming more time in explaining the different forms of treatment, I will, by reporting the history of a few selected cases, endeavor to show the various forms of treatment I adopt in different
cases and the startling results I obtain, which, I am sure, all practitioners will agree could not be attained with drugs.
Case I.-A tailor, age thirty-six. From the effects of overwork patient was nervous, run down, and troubled with insomnia, having severe headaches and nausea. One night after a hard day's work over a gas-heated iron, the fumes from which were overpowering, this man closed his shop, being unable to work longer. He came into my office and after a careful examination I placed him on the platform connected to the negative pole of the machine, grounded the positive pole, and to this attached a brass-pointed electrode. I then started the machine and slowly moved the electrode (keeping it about six inches from patient) up and down his back, over his head, and finally down in front of him, letting it come to a stop in such a manner that I could get a strong breeze over the region of his stomach. I continued this treatment ten minutes. The patient then left the office, opened his shop, and worked three more hours without any discomfort. Pursuingthis case I gave patient daily treatments of ten minutes each for two weeks, when they were discontinued, being firmly convinced that he had entirely recovered, and time proved the correctness of this conviction.
Case II-A merchant came to me complaining of insomnia. Patient had been subjected to considerable mental strain for the past six weeks owing to business difficulties. The effect was a nervous affliction manifesting itself in severe insomnia. A brother practitioner had advised a vacation with a trip to the seashore, but this was impossibe for many reasons. Physical examination disclosed nothing but extreme emaciation and weakness. I advised a system of potential alternation treatments, which allowed the patient to continue the administration of business affairs, an absolute necessity. Patient came to my office evenings after closing his store. I placed him on the platform and grounded the negative pole which was attached to the head crown electrode. I connected the positive pole of the machine to the platform and also attached it to a copper plate placed under the patient's feet. Before administering this treatment I either had the patient remove his shoes, or placed several thicknesses of paper between electrodes and soles of shoes as bare shoes coming in contact with electrodes will cause an unpleasant sensation to the feet, annoy the patient, and counteract the good effect of the treatment. Next I took a long chain connected to a separate ground wire and attached it to a brass ball electrode held by a holder. Then I placed the brass ball from one to three inches (as this case required) from the electrode connecting the positive pole to the platform, and started the machine, the spark gape between electrode and brass ball being guaged to suit the patient. I continued the treatment for ten minutes. The patient went home and had a good night's rest, sleeping, as he said, more profoundly than he had in a month. Patient took similar treatments nightly for three
weeks, when all symptoms disappeared, and he had gained four pounds in weight, felt free from worry, and was entirely well. I will add that I have used this form of treatment in many cases and consider it the best tonic sedative. I have often had patients enter the condition of sleep during the treatment, and have never experienced failure to cure insomnia.
Case III-A housewife, age thirty, mother of four children, had slight laceration of cervix and perineum. She complained of dragging pain in pelvis, backache, headache, and nervousness, the latter symptom being so pronounced that she feared loss of mind. I advised operation for repair of cervix and perineum, which was done, but without improvement of condition. Patient complained more after the good effects of a much-needed rest, which the operation necessitated, wore off. I then employed the static breeze as in Case I, limiting the breeze more especially to pelvis, back, and head. Three weeks' treatment effected a cure, and now, after two years, there is no return of the symptoms.
Case IV-A lumberman, fifty years old. He suffered occasional attacks of lumbago for eight years. When I was called, patient had been confined to bed two weeks, being unable to turn over without assistance. His doctor had been administering salicylate of soda internally, with counterirritants to back, and relieving pain with daily hypodermics of morphin. Much to the disbelief of patient's friends and himself I informed him that I could do nothing further for him at his home, but that if he could get to my office I would cure him in two minutes. Although the patient could not believe it possible, after strong urging, I induced him to consent to the transfer. A great deal of persuasion was necessary to influence a man in his condition to drive one mile, but after placing a cot in a spring wagon and conveying the patient thereto, the start was finally made. It was in the fall of the year, when the roads were rough, and after going a few rods patient insisted on getting out of the vehicle, and, with the help of crutches and my assistance, walked the rest of the journey. After a short rest I laboriously placed him on the platform of the machine and administered a six-inch positive spark, obtained by connecting the platform with the negative pole, grounding the positive pole, the electrode being connected to the ground wire. I administered the sparks with the patient standing, as it was impossible for him to sit. In about two minutes I discontinued the current and requested him to step off the platform. Much to his surprise and gratification he did so, and found that he could bend. forward and place his hands upon the floor without any discomfort. After the patient had walked around a bit I again administered mild. sparks for ten minutes, and I can truthfully say that during the last four years he has not had a symptom of lumbago. This may seem an exaggerated case but I can give assurance that it is not, and anybody
accustomed to the moderate use of static electricity has had many similar experiences.
It is needless to say that the patients this particular case has brought me would pay for a great many static machines. I have treated many cases of lumbago and other forms of muscular rheumatism, and where I can use a six-inch spark I never fail to give instant relief. In cases where the patient will not tolerate the spark the positive breeze will surely effect a cure, although longer time will be required.
Case V-A furniture dealer, age forty-two. After sustaining a wrench of the shoulder, followed by rheumatic pains, this man consulted me regarding a partial paralysis of his right arm. On examination I found almost a complete atrophy of the trapezius, deltoid and infraspinatus muscles. I connected the patient to the machine in order to obtain the induced static current, using the smallest Leyden jar I had. Patient was requested to hold one electrode in his left hand while the other was placed to his shoulder outside clothing. I then started the machine slowly, and for five minutes caused feeble contraction and relaxation of these muscles; then for another five minutes turned the machine rapidly, using the current as a massage. This treatment was continued for four weeks, resulting in complete cure of the paralysis and restoration of muscle symmetry.
Case VI.—An unmarried woman came to me suffering from amenorrhea and accompanying symptoms which I diagnosed as chlorosis. I gave the patient daily treatments of positive insulation continued for ten minutes and accompanied by a negative breeze to the pelvis. In three weeks the patient was discharged well.
Case VII-A married woman consulted me for a badly sprained wrist following a fall. There was no fracture or dislocation of the bones. I treated the wrist daily with static breeze, with the result that swelling and soreness subsided within a week.
Case VIII.-An unmarried woman sought relief from a distressing acne indurata. I employed the positive breeze on her face, using a wooden electrode. Three weeks sufficed to effect a cure.
In selecting these cases for report I purposely picked those in which no drugs were used. I would not say that this is wise in every instance, for I think it better in many cases to employ both. The results show, however, that a great deal can be accomplished with static electricity alone. I do not wish to impart the impression that static electricity is a cure-all, for it is not, but it can be employed, with safety, in every case. Nothing will relieve the pains of neuritis, nervous headache, and the vomiting of pregnancy so quickly as will static electricity.
In closing I will add the assurance that from my own experience, after a hard day's work, nothing is more refreshing and invigorating than ten minutes application of the static breeze. Try it.