1746- Jean Jallabert and the Excitation of Muscles

Online exhibition looking at how electricity in a medical capacity has developed from the Antiquities through to the early twentieth century. Quack treatments are examined alongside studies of anatomy and x-rays.

Title page from Experiences sur l'Electricite by Jean Jallabert 1748

The next major development came from Jean Jallabert who discovered the ability to stimulate muscles by electricity.

In 1746 he recorded the first successful treatment of paralysis, a locksmith whose arm had been injured while forging an iron bar. Jallabert observed that by insulating the patient on wax and electrifying him with a Leyden jar, involuntary contractions were caused in the muscles from which he drew sparks. The passing of a current stimulated muscle regeneration and increased blood flow.

Others' mixed results in replicating his experiments were more a testament to his unusual combination of knowledge, electrical and anatomical, than his methods. By 1760, there had been numerous accounts of treatment of paralysis, muscular rigidity and nervous disorders.

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