This section is from the book "A Treatise On Therapeutics, And Pharmacology Or Materia Medica Vol1", by George B. Wood. Also available from Amazon: Part 1 and Part 2.
This is one of the forms of palsy in which electricity exercises the most extraordinary powers. It is applicable, of course, only after the wound or injury of the nerve has healed, or been repaired; but, after this event, there is occasionally left behind a very paralytic condition, which shows no disposition to recovery, and may go on indefinitely, unless relieved. Scarcely any length of time offers an obstacle, in these cases, to the beneficial effects of electricity, unless the injury has been such as in its nature to be irremediable, or the muscle has undergone complete degeneration from want of use. Cases have been cured after a duration of four years. The application should be made every other day, and eight or ten minutes at a time. The muscles are often much atrophied, and, as before stated, electro-muscular contractility and sensibility have been lost. The first step towards recovery is usually the excitation of painful sensation, with heat in the part. After this follows an obvious improvement in the nutrition of the muscle; the power of voluntary movement next returns; and all this may occur before the electro-muscular contractility has been restored. At length, however, the muscle contracts under the electric excitement, and the cure is completed. If electric contractility should not have been wholly abolished, it is unnecessary to delay the use of the remedy; but otherwise it would be best to wait for the complete repair of the injury, even so long as from four to ten months. Each muscle should be treated according to its condition. The more it is atrophied, and the less is its contractility, the more intense should be the current, and the more rapid the intermissions. The duration of each sitting should be ten or fifteen minutes at furthest; and rarely more than one minute should be given to each muscle. The operation should also pass rapidly from muscle to muscle, returning several times to each, in order to prevent too great fatigue to any one. Cures may be effected in the majority of cases. The mean duration of treatment is two or three months; but sometimes years are required before a complete cure can be effected.