The Abdominal Supporter

While compression of the trunk at the waist is always harmful, compression and support of the lower abdomen is of great service in many cases, because of the unnatural feebleness of the abdominal muscles. In fleshy patients almost any sort of bandage will accomplish good, but in thin patients an ordinary bandage is of little use, for the reason that it is held out in front by edges of the iliac bones, and so does not press with sufficient firmness upon the lower abdomen where support is needed.

The most effective support in such cases can be secured only by a bandage which is compressed by springs. Such a bandage, which the writer has had in use for more than a dozen years, is shown in the accompanying cut. In fleshy patients a stout bandage made of ducking and cut to fit snugly is of greatest service.

The bandage must be worn constantly when the patient is on his feet. Its purpose is not simply to support the viscera, which the best of bandages can do only in a very small degree, but to increase the intra-abdominal pressure to such a degree as to assist the colon in disposing of its contents. Some patients are completely relieved of constipation by the use of a proper bandage.

In most cases it is necessary to employ perineal bands to keep the bandage in position at the lower abdomen, where alone it can be of service.

Pain in the back is one of the disagreeable symptoms which an efficient bandage often relieves, especially when the pain is due to enteroptosis, or prolapse of the intestines, rather than colitis.

A sense of exhaustion, often resulting from low intra-abdominal tension, which permits an undue amount of blood to accumulate in the abdominal vessels, robbing the brain and spinal cord, is almost immediately relieved by a proper bandage.

The bandage is only a palliative, however, and its use must be accompanied by the development of the abdominal muscles by means of massage, electricity, and suitable exercises.

In cases requiring the use of the abdominal supporter during the day, the moist abdominal girdle should be worn at night to aid in relieving congestion. The bandage should be used with the mackintosh protection, and the bandage should be removed or renewed before it becomes dry.

Efficient Electrical Methods

While electricity is certainly not a panacea for constipation, nor for any other disease, and is certainly not able to accomplish a tithe of the miracles which have been attributed to it, it is nevertheless, when skillfully applied, a most valuable remedy in constipation. As ordinarily used by means of sponges held in the hands, and employing a current from a small buzzing faradic machine, nothing more is accomplished than a slight titillation of the skin and giving the patient a slight amount of pain, which may, however, in some cases, exercise a beneficial psychological effect.

Electricity may render valuable service in constipation in two ways: (1) By inducing automatic exercise of the abdominal muscles and so restoring their tone and strength; and (2) by stimulating the colon itself and thus inciting bowel action, and (3) by restoring lost nerve sensibility to the rectum. This it does both by directly exciting bowel action and by raising to activity sensibility of the rectum when lost by neglect.

Automatic Exercise

Automatic exercise of the abdominal muscles may best be administered by the aid of the nim-soidal electrical current. The static farradic current may be used, but they are more or less painful and less easily controlled. The sinusoidal current is practically painless. The most convenient method of using the current is by means of the automatic exercise apparatus, which may be adjusted so as to cause any desired number of vigorous contractions of the abdominal muscles per minute.

By this means the abdominal muscles and the nerves and nerve centers which control them may be powerfully stimulated and their functions gradually restored.

Electrical Stimulation Of The Colon

Applications of electricity to the surface of the body do not excite action in the colon; but the colon may be excited by the application of the current directly to the interior of the colon. This cannot be done by the patient himself, as the services of an expert proctologist are needed for the proper placing of the electrode.

Electrical Stimulation Of The Rectum

The application of the sinusoidal current to the rectum by means of a proper electrode is a most effective means of stimulation of the rectum when its normal sensibility has been greatly diminished or greatly lost by neglecting to attend properly to Nature's "call" for evacuation of the bowels. For this purpose the very rapidly alternated current is best. The applications should be made daily. The duration of the application should be about ten or fifteen minutes, and the strength of the current as much as the patient can bear without discomfort. Not infrequently the effect of the application is to provoke an immediate evacuation of the bowels.