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Vibrating stool, Paris, France, 1890-1914

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Jean-Martin Charcot is perhaps the most celebrated clinical neurologist of the 19th century. He approached patients as if they were pathological specimens, to be observed and measured with an expert’s objective eye. His method combined clinical observation and post-mortem dissection. However, he also developed therapeutic techniques. Some of these incorporated vibration. This was based on an observation by Charcot and several contemporaries. Charcot claimed vibrations applied to skin, joints or the whole body eased a number of neurological disorders. These included Parkinson’s disease. There is insufficient information about this object to confirm Charcot used it. However, he is linked to it. It is more of a platform than a ‘stool’ and the motor caused it to vibrate. It is believed a patient either stood directly on the platform or sat on a chair of a suitable size to be placed on top of it.

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Glossary: vibrating stool

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Glossary: therapeutic device

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