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Museum sheds some light on early electric medical devices

electric fishThis Wired.com story on the 20th century medical devices housed at the Bakken Museum had me at "electric torpedo fish."

As the story explains, we've experimented with the possible medical applications of electricity since 1st century AD when Roman physician Scribonius Largus applied electric torpedo fish to his patients as a therapy for headaches, gout, or hemorrhoids.

We've refined our use of electricity for medicine a bit over the years. The Bakken Museum in Minneapolis showcases some of our progress in this field.

From the piece:

The museum's collection, which also includes some 11,000 books and scientific manuscripts dating back to the 13th century, focuses on the use of electromagnetism in medicine.

Assistant curator Adrian Fischer (below) compiled this selection of some of the Bakken's more rare and unusual devices, such as the Garceau Nerve Stimulator (above) that was made sometime between 1940 and 1970. Fischer says the documentation accompanying this device suggests it was used to stimulate the cerebral cortex during brain surgery, for example, to help surgeons pinpoint the source of a patient's epileptic seizures.

Holly MacCormick is a writing intern in the medical school’s Office of Communication & Public Affairs. She is a graduate student in ecology and evolutionary biology at University of California-Santa Cruz.

Previously: The history of biotech in seven bite-sized chunksA low-cost way to keep premature babies warm and well and Stanford engineers create wireless, self-propelled medical device that swims through blood stream
Photo by BioDivLibrary

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