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Electrotherapy machine, Europe, 1862

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In the 1800s, mild electric shocks were a popular treatment for a range of aches and pains, especially those associated with the nerves. Although little more than medical quackery, thousands of these machines were made. Electricity was produced using the large magnet and the strength of the electric shock was controlled by how fast the crank was turned. The ebony and brass handles were placed on the patient’s body to deliver the shock. To prevent the patient feeling too much pain, it was recommended that a wet sponge be placed between the handle and the body.

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Glossary: electrotherapy machine

machine used to deliver therapeutic electric shocks to patients

Glossary: electrotherapy

The passing of electric currents through the body's tissues to stimulate the functioning of nerves and the muscles.