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Therapeutic Applications Electricity

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ELECTRICITY, THERAPEUTIC APPLICATIONS OF.—Elect rotherapv was first used in the eighteenth century, although scientific investigations regarding the nature and effects of the electric current in its applications to the human body were not instituted until the nineteenth century. Not withstanding the numerous and laborious experiments and observations, very little is known of the manner of its action. But one thing is certain in spite of the many doubters, and that is that many patients are improved and their illness shortened by the applications of this agent. Its value in motor and sensory paralyses is undoubted, and the quieting and analgesic influences attendant upon its use 1--.)rm one of the main indications for its employment.

The principal forms in which electricity is ordinarily applied are (1) by the continuous or galvanic current ; (2) by the interrupted or faradic current ; or (3) by the Franklin current. In recent years a number of additional varieties of currents have been devised, but these demand the test of time before they can be more generally employed. In order that the use of the electric current may be efficacious and successful, it is necessary to determine the proper strength needed, and the time of application. This, however, is such a difficult matter, and requires so much experience that only a physician should employ this agent in the treatment of disease. Lay men are very apt to use electricity without the exercise of any judgment or reason, basing its use on the maxim " the stronger the better." warning note should he sounded against this misuse of a very powerful therapeutic measure. Very often a weak, almost insensible, current may be of greater value and efficiency than one which is so strong that it can scarcely be endured by the patient.

.1s applied by the laity, the current can only do harm ; and the lack of tangible results usually serves to condemn this measure in the popular estimation. Neither may the " electrification " as made use of in exhibitions and country fairs he compared to its employment by the medical practitioner, as the antics produced in the victim are merely of value in amusing the surrounding spectators. One who desires to be benefitted should therefore consult a physician, and not entertain any fears about any possible hurt or injury. In many cases, currents that are weak and easily endured are sufficient. If stronger varieties are required, the patient may be accus tomed to their effects by the aid of special appliances attached to the electric apparatus, by means of which a slow and scarcely noticeable increase of the current is rendered possible. The patient may thus be made to endure a current of considerable strength, which would be productive of great distress if it entered the body suddenly. It is only in a small number of conditions, however, that the stronger forms of current are necessary.

Electricity is employed also in the electric water-bath, electric light-bath, and for heating certain instruments (such as needles, snares, and cauteries) which are used for the purpose of removing unsightly moles and hairs, or for excising polypi or thickenings in the nose. In addition to its curative properties, electricity is used also in examinations, for testing the irritability of nerves and muscles, and for illuminating internal organs, etc. For the value of X-rays in diagnosing disease, see DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT OF DISEASE (p.