In Paralysis and Paralytic Affections generally, electricity, if employed with due care and in proper cases, proves highly serviceable. It is inadmissible so long as inflammatory or febrile symptoms are present; is productive of no benefit if the disease be connected with organic lesion of the nervous system; and should never be applied in recent cases, as in Apoplexy, if there be reason to suppose that the effused blood or coagulum remains unabsorbed. Experience has fully justified the observation of Dr. Percival, that few cases which resist the power of small and repeated shocks will yield to great and terrifying ones. It is in local Paralysis, when a nerve or set of nerves is affected, unconnected with organic disease of the nervous centres, when the Paralysis arises from torpor of the nerves themselves, that electricity proves most useful. Dr. Golding Bird* gives the following results of his experience with this remedy: - Of 12 cases of Paralysis from Affections of the Nervous System, 6 were cured, 2 relieved, 4 received no benefit. Of 11 cases of Saturnine Paralysis, of "dropped Hand," 5 were cured, 4 relieved, 2 not benefited. Others have also found it signally beneficial. Of 10 cases of Paralysis from Rheumatism, exposure to cold, &c., 5 were cured, 3 relieved, 2 not benefited.
* Op. cit., p. 9. Op. cit.
Med. Times, Sept. 11, 1858.
In Paralysis resulting from a stroke of lightning, a case is related by Mr. Orton, of Sunderland, in which a complete cure was effected by electricity.
In Paralysis Agitans, it may be employed with a prospect of benefit.
The direction of the current in these cases is by no means unimportant. "In Paralysis of sensation only," observes Dr. Pereira, "the current should be direct or centrifugal. In Paralysis of motion, it should be inverse or centripetal. In Paralysis of both sensation and motion, the vibrating current, obtained by the ordinary coil (volta-electric induction) machine, is peculiarly appropriate; for by this the sensitive and motor nerves are alternately excited, while the one current promotes the restoration of the excitability, which may have been lessened by the preceding current."
M. Pelligrini relates the case of a man who, after a fit of Epilepsy, lost his powers of speech. Several remedies were employed in vain, but under the use of electricity he recovered his voice in a few days. Dr. Flamant,§ of Strasburg, relates a case of twelve years' standing, consequent on a sudden fright, cured by the same means.
3069. Amaurosis depending upon torpor of the Optic Nerve is, according to the experience of Mr. Hey|| and Mr. Ware,H much benefited by the employment of electricity. On the other hand, Mr. Travers,** Mr. LawTence,+t and Mr. Tyrrell, concur in stating that, although fairly tried, they have never seen any good effect result from it. The mode of using it in these cases is by the aura, or by slight sparks drawn from, or directed against the eye and surrounding parts. It will certainly fail if the Amaurosis arise from organic disease of the nerve or nervous centre.
Mr.Bampfield* states that he knew several instances in which complete success attended its use.
* Guy's Hosp. Reports, vol. xi. Mat. Med., vol. i. p. 45. Journ. de Pharm., Jan. 1844. § Dub. Hosp Gaz., Feb. 15, 1856. || Med. Obs. and Enquiries, vol. v. p. 1.
¶ Obs. on Cataract, &c., vol. ii. p. 409, Lond. 1812.
** Synopsis of Dis. of the Eye, p. 309.
On Diseases of the Eye, p. 545.
Cyc. Pract. Surg., p. 105, vol. i.
Dr. Addison employed it with benefit, and Dr. Golding Bird J speaks highly of its efficacy. He used it in the form of sparks taken in the course of the spinal column, every alternate day, for about five minutes at each time. It is chiefly useful in cases depending upon deranged catamenial function. In Epilepsy, it was employed by Dr. Franklin, Linnaeus, &c, but the results were on the whole unsatisfactory. (See sect. 3088.)
Of twenty-four cases in which it was employed by Dr. Golding Bird,§ twenty were cured, and two derived no benefit; but these were complicated with other diseases. The current may be directed from the sacrum to the pubes, or from hip to hip. It is, without doubt, a very powerful emmenagogue.
3073. Constipation depending upon Paralysis of the Intestines has yielded to the use of electricity in the hands of M. Terzi.|| In Hernia, Dr. Clemens ¶ has used electricity as a radical cure. The hernia being reduced, and the patient placed in a semi-recumbent position, the ball of the conductor is carried as far into the hernial canal as possible, and the application of the electricity continued for five minutes, its power being increased day by day. After a few seances, the mouth of the ring becomes diminished in size, and the hernia will not descend as easily as heretofore. A perseverance in this treatment effects a cure. No ill effects have been observed to follow its employment. For the same object, Dr. Clemens also suggests the use of a galvanic hernia truss.
3074. In Nervous Deafness, it has occasionally been used; but the weight of evidence is unfavourable to its use. In some cases it appears to have been prejudicial.
3075. The other diseases in which it has been employed, but with very uncertain benefit, are: - 1. Tetanus. 2. Opacity of the Crystalline Lens. 3. Torpid conditions of the Liver. 4. Chronic Glandular Enlargements. 5. Calculous Affections, as a solvent of Stone. 6. Spasmodic Asthma.