The use of electricity as a form of therapy is a well established procedure in the treatment of pain and has a part of its roots that go right back to ancient times.
• Egyptians used electric eels to treat ailments (such as skeletal pain) back in 2500BC,
• In 400BC, the torpedo fish, or electric eel, were used to impart electric shocks to the unfortunate persons who stood in the water and were treated in this manner for gout, headaches, asthma, haemorrhoids and many other medical afflictions.
• In 43AD, a roman physician by the name of Scribonius Largus used electric eels to treat headaches
• During the 18th century, physicians increased their experimentation and use electricity for medical purposes.
Current technologies and medical electronic devices, especially Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulators (TENS), present a stark contrast to the concepts and applications of that early period.
In 1965, two researchers advanced their findings following in-depth research in what they called “The Gate theory”. The researchers, Melzack and Wall based their theory on well-established clinical data and contemporary knowledge of dorsal horn neurophysiology. They unquestionably provided a great impetus in the understanding of the control theory of pain. Many dedicated researches have continued to contribute to the understanding of the many types of pain, their source and treatments.
With the advent of improved miniaturization of technological milestones, considerable basic and clinical research over the past decade has created some effective and innovative TENS stimulators.
Printed Circuit Board assembly and testing facility.
The early development of ‘Bi-Phasic’ waveform technology utilizing special transformers that had to be small and effective in creating a ‘Non-adaptive waveform for use with the AGAR TENS Stimulators (the forerunner of the present Compact TENS dual channel stimulator).
|The AGAR I Dual Channel TENS stimulator incorporates the ‘patented’, modulated waveform which ensures faster results.
|The AGAR Dual Channel Mk. 10 incorporated the early integrated technology with additional features in waveform selection.
In 1987 a requirement arose for a non-invasive system of pain control in Obstetric applications. The serious need arose when a number of mothers-to-be did not obtain sufficient pain relief from standard techniques of analgesia including side effects. The Obstetrician was reluctant with one particular client to undertake a caesarean section. Ray Krieser, (a TENS consultant from Krieslex) undertook the detailed investigation to develop a dedicated system for use during labour. A search through the literature [Ref 1-5] found no such device has as yet been developed. He set out the criteria for the development of a dedicated system that required the following questions to be resolved in regard to:
1. concept objectives,
2. electrode type and size,
3. stimulation waveform,
4. frequency of waveform,
5. ‘two-tier’ stimulation,
6. Method of delivery,
7. Physical size, shape and layout,
8. operational procedures ,
9. educational material for the professional (pre-natal educators and midwifery staff),
10. educational material for the expectant mother and her birthing partner
It is suffice to outline that the milestones outlined above were challenging. Following 18 months of intensive work the first prototype of the Obstetric TENS was built.
The first Australian prototype of the obstetric TENS stimulator
FreeMOM TENS Labour pain management stimulator
|The first models of the Obstet TENS were successfully trialed at the Freemason Hospital in Melbourne. The Obstet TENS was approved by the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). The Obstet TENS was further enhanced and developed with some unique micro-electronic technologies into a small, handheld system (now called the FreeMOM TENS). The unit was found to be most useful for pain management; both pre-labour, during stages 1 and 2 of labour, and post-labour applications.
The FreeMOM TENS was tested for efficacy by a team of international Obstetrician and Gynaecology researchers and the results were published in two international journals.
A Conclusion as quoted from the International Journal of Gynaecology & Obstetrics: “TENS is an effective non-pharmacological, non-invasive adjuvant pain relief modality for use in labour and delivery. TENS application reduced the duration of the first stage of labour and the amount of analgesic drug administered. There were no adverse effects on mother or newborns”.
B. Kaplan, D Rabinerson, J. Pardo, R. U. Krieser, A. Neri.: “Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) as a pain-relief device in Obstetrics and Gynaecology”. Clinical and Experimental Obstetrics & Gynecology., Vol. XXIV, No.3, March 1997, P 123-125.
B. Kaplan, D Rabinerson, J. Pardo, R. U. Krieser, A. Neri.: “Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) as a pain-relief during labor and delivery”. International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics., Vol. 60, No.3, March 1998, P 251-255.
Suffice to quote the statistics from over 3500+ mothers who used the FreeMOM TENS for their labour:
• 40% used only the FreeMOM TENS for their labour.
• 56% used approx. 1/3 to ¼ of additional analgesics.
• 4% (approx.) had to undergo emergency Caesarian section.
• The epidural rate by FreeMOM TENS users reduced to approx. 15% of mothers.