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This article refers to alternative medicine. For recognized uses of electricity in medicine please see Electrotherapy
Perkins patent tractorsIn 1795, an American doctor from Connecticut named Elisha Perkins developed the Perkins Patent Tractors —. It consisted in a pair of rods, one of iron and one made of brass. Despite the device's failure to meet the conventional medical standards of the time, the tractors proved popular, and even George Washington bought a set. Perkins died of yellow fever in 1799 and his son, Benjamin Perkins, inherited the enterprise which he continued along with more conventional business ventures, before he died in 1810.
Electric belts and corsetsElectric belts and corsets, which incorporated batteries were marketed as being able to cure a wide range of ills. They were used through the 19th century and into the 20th. As late as 1927 a California man named Gaylord Wilshire was using an AC-powered belt named the I-ON-A-CO.
General BackgroundElectricity has received the attention of medical researchers and medical practicioners since ancient times. The ancient Greeks used electric rays for applying controlled electrical shocks to those suffering from some medical conditions. Later, in the eighteenth century, experiments by Luigi Galvani showed that touching an electrically charged scalpel to an exposed nerve in the leg from a dead frog would cause the leg muscle to contract as if the frog were still alive. Modern medical researchers have confirmed that bioelectricity is responsible for the transmission of signals along nerves and that electrical current applied to nerves or muscles can affect the body.As in many branches of science, popularized experiments stimulated popular imagination and electricity applied to the treatment of medical conditions started to be considered possible, a belief used by some for creating and sometimes patenting diverse apparatus which they claimed as having therapeutical capacities. While electricity became indeed a tool in some medical fields for diagnose, pain control, surgical instrumentation and even resuscitation, many devices created by laymen claiming diverse therapeutical benefits and some such as the Perkins patent tractor even became fashionable.
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