THE NO. 2 POLYSINE GENERATOR REVISITED
Dr. Rick Ruegg is the associate dean of Clinical Education at CMCC and our resident modalities expert. I put those questions to him. Dr. Ruegg says:
“If asked to label this interesting device in modern terms, I’d likely describe it as one of the original ‘mult-stim devices.’ Today, multi-stim devices typically provide programs for interferential current (IFC) therapy, bi-polar (pulsed or pre-modulated), Russian (muscle) stimulation, bi-phasic and micro-current. This particular device appears to provide two of these functions. Both channels can develop alternating current (AC) and are able to generate a sinusoidal wave form which is the basis for all IFC units. With one channel “fixed” and the other “variable,” the interference between the two channels would produce a therapeutic frequency within the tissues – a principle which is still used today in modern IFC devices. The channels are also capable of creating direct current (DC) which can be applied directly to the tissues in a low volt or bi-phasic fashion. The patient’s experience would include a gentle buzzing sensation (high frequency stimulation), a sharp, prickling sensation (low frequency stimulation) or muscle twitching/contraction. While early therapeutic devices were attributed with a variety of effects – from pain relief or anti-inflammatory effects to preventing hair loss – current research provides support for temporary pain relief and muscle rehabilitation only.”
PAIN RELIEF, 46 CE
Electricity has been used in medicine since Roman times. In 46 CE, the physician and pharmacologist Scribonius Largus noted the pain-relieving properties of the discharge of the electric torpedo ray and recommended it for the treatment of headache and gout (1):
“Headache even if it is chronic and unbearable is taken away and remedied forever by a live black torpedo placed on the spot which is in pain, until the pain ceases. As soon as the numbness has been felt the remedy should be removed lest the ability to feel be taken from the part. (2)”
An early form of electroanalgesia, this therapy is still in use 2,000 years later with a small Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator (TENS) pulse generator replacing the ray.
TENS AND THE GATE CONTROL THEORY OF PAIN
Dr. Calin Lucaciu in our anatomy department sees the parallel.
“Although the first modern, wearable TENS was patented in 1974, the basic components are similar to our polysine generator even though our instrument was manufactured sometime early in the 20th century,” says Dr. Lucaciu. “This suggests that chiropractors even in those days possessed a surprisingly high level of clinical understanding in the field of applied neuro-physiology.”
Surprisingly, it was not until Melzack and Wall’s mid-twentieth century postulation that a theoretical rationale was laid out for the therapeutic effects observed by Scribonius Largus with his torpedo rays two millennia ago.
1. Encyclopaedia Romana, James Grout,
2. Cabinet of Wonders, Heather McGougal,
3. The Marvellous Toy, Tom Paxton.