Electrotherapy equipment, London, England, 1780-1800
The cylinders of this electrotherapy machine are turned against the leather cushion, creating an electrical charge which is then transmitted to a Leyden jar. This holds the charge, which can then be passed to a flexible conductor used to deliver an electric shock to the patient. Electrotherapy was used for a wide range of neurological and psychiatric disorders. This type of equipment was invented by Edward Nairne (1749-1806), an optical and mathematical instrument maker and natural philosopher. Electrotherapy came into popular use in England in the second half of the 1700s.
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Techniques and Technologies:
Glossary: electrostatic machine
mechanical device that produces static electricity, or electricity at high voltage and low continuous current.
Glossary: Leyden jar
Earliest and simplest device for storing static electricity, developed c.1745 in Leyden, Holland. The original electrical capacitor, it consists of a foil-lined glass jar partly filled with water and closed with a cork through which protrudes a brass rod wired to the foil. To charge the jar, friction is applied to the tip of the rod
The passing of electric currents through the body's tissues to stimulate the functioning of nerves and the muscles.
Glossary: nervous diseases
Diseases of the central nervous system, including the brain and spinal cord. These include Creutzfeldt-Jakob Syndrome (CJD), Parkinson’s disease and meningitis.