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.
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 fore- runner of the present Compact TENS dual channel stimulator).
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 questions to be resolved in regard to the following:
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 health professional, the expectant mother and her birthing partner.
Following 18 months of intensive work, the first prototype of the Obstetric TENS was built, now known as the FreeMOM TENS.
Since 2015 we started to develop the next version of the FreeMOM TENS and have collaborating with health professionals. In 2018, the new version of the FreeMOM TENS will be available to expectant mum’s during labour. The FreeMOM TENS makes the contraction timing information visible to expectant mums and their healthcare professionals on smart phones and internet browsers.