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Use Of The Long Cord

Source: A Newly Discovered System Of Electrical Medication

It is often desirable to bring the entire parts of the patient, through
which the current is made to pass, under one and the same kind of
influence--such as shall make them all more positive or more negative.
Especially is this true in many cases where we wish to run through but a
short space. For this purpose, there is frequent advantage in using
conducting cords of unequal length. As my views on this point have been
disputed in certain quarters, I will endeavor here to place them in such
a light that they shall not be rejected for want of being rightly

I have previously remarked[C] that, for practical purposes, it is
sufficiently exact to consider the magnetic circuit as extending only
from the positive post, around through the conducting cords, the
electrodes, and the person of the patient, to the negative post. We
will so regard it at present. This circuit may be viewed as one
continuous magnet, made up of several sections or shorter magnets placed
end to end--the positive end of the first to the negative end of the
second, and the positive end of the second to the negative end of the
third. In this arrangement, the negative end of the first section is the
negative pole of the one whole magnet, and the positive end of the third
section is the positive pole of the whole magnet. The minimum quantity
of the magnetism is supposed to be at the negative pole, and the maximum
quantity at the positive pole; and the quantity is supposed to increase,
by regular graduation, from the negative to the positive pole. This
being so, the quantity is the same in the positive end of either
section and the negative end of the adjoining section, at their point of

Now, in practice, the body of the patient, or so much of it as is
embraced between the two electrodes, may be regarded as the second
section in this magnet; and the cord connected with the positive post,
together with its electrode attached, may be counted the first and
most negative section; and the cord connected with the negative post,
along with its electrode, may be the third and most positive
section. And if this whole magnet be more and more positive, by regular
degrees through all the sections, from its negative to its positive end
or pole, then the nearer any given part of it, say the second
section--the patient's person, may be to its positive pole in the
negative post, so much the more positive that section or part will be.
And the nearer such part or section may be to the negative pole in the
positive post, so much the more negative it will be. If the cords be
of equal length, the central point in the circuit or magnet will be in
the second section--the person of the patient, midway between the
electrodes; and that section will be charged with the mean quantity
of the magnetic fluid. The central point will hold exactly the mean
quantity. But if the cord in the first section be two yards long,
and that in the third section be four yards, then section
second--the patient's parts under treatment--will be nearest to the
negative pole in the positive post, and consequently will be charged
with much less than the mean quantity of the fluid, and will therefore
be made so much the more negative. If, on the other hand, the cord in
section first be four yards in length, and that in section third
be only two yards, then the patient's body--section second--will be
brought nearest to the positive pole in the negative post, and of
course be charged with much more than the mean quantity of the
magnetic fluid, and hence will be made so much the more positive.

It is true that the positive and negative poles of section second--the
parts of the patient between the electrodes--will not be reversed by
any such changes in the length or relative positions of the conducting
cords; nor is such reversal required in those cases where the use of the
long cord is indicated. The only change of polarization called for in
such cases, is that all the parts through which the current is to
pass should, in greater or less degree, be affected alike, as being made
more positive or more negative. Of course these parts will be so
affected in different degrees--those nearest to the short cord the
most; those nearest to the long cord the least.

The class of cases where the use of the long cord is more especially
advantageous, comprises those in which it is desirable to run the
current out of the patient at the shortest admissible distance from
the positive electrode. For example, in treating cynanche tonsillaris,
(quinsy), if treating with the positive pole in the mouth, we would not
wish to run the current further than to the back of the neck; or, if
treating externally, we would not wish to carry the negative electrode
further from the positive than from side to side. Here the long cord,
with the negative electrode, would be a special advantage in subduing
the inflammation. We would not care to increase the inflammatory
action, as we should necessarily do on the positive side of the central
point, by using cords of equal length.

Again, if treating a case of acute enteritis--inflammation of the
intestines--we would not wish, while treating the abdomen with the
positive pole, to increase the inflammation in the lower parts, by using
equal cords and placing the negative pole at the sacrum or the coccyx.
Neither would we wish to reduce the strength of the lower limbs by
carrying the negative pole to the feet. Nor, yet again, would we care to
endanger the thoracic viscera by running the current from the abdomen up
to the dorsal or cervical vertebrae. The true way, in such a case, would
be to connect the negative electrode with a long cord, and then to run
the current through the inflamed parts, and out somewhere from the
lumbar vertebrae to the coccyx, by treating over the abdomen with the
positive pole, and placing the negative pole on the lower parts of the

As the cords that accompany the machine from the manufacturer are
usually cut about two yards in length, every practitioner should supply
himself with an extra cord, of at least three yards, to be used as the
long cord.

Next: The Inward And The Outward Current

Previous: Distinctive Use Of Each Pole

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