August 2019 Edition. Volume XIX


This cherry wood box contains a complete neurostimulator constructed by Gaiffe, in Paris, in the early 1860s. It is both a fascinating medical device as well as a work of art.  The Gaiffe TENS unit is described in the 1871 Beard and Rockwell textbook of Medical and Surgical Electricity.  With the exception of its low electrical output (estimated to be about 3 milliamperes) causing it to be basically ineffective for the purpose of neurostimulation it has all of the basic components of a modern TENS device.

Gaiff01 The Gaiffe TENS unit contained all of the basic elements of a modern TENS unit including  a replaceable battery, lead wires and different types of skin electrodes.





GAIFFEintdots200GIF The Gaiffe TENS device is compact.  The red dots show the mercury sulfate battery, blue dot the mercury sulfat (sic) vial, green dot the Faradic inductorium, and the yellow dot the wooden handle for the various skin electrodes.  The lead wires for the electrodes lie next to the inductorium.



GAIFFEbattery200GIF The battery has two compartments which were filled with mercury sulfate.  The covers were placed and the unit was inserted into the TENS unit much like a modern disposable alkaline battery.



GAIFFEmerc200GIF This vial was purchased from “Mottershead & Co.” located at “7, Exchange Street, and 10, Half Moon, Manchester” England.  The small spoon ladle is shown next to the vial.  Note the “POISON” label at the bottom of the vial.





GAIFFEBrush100GIFGaiffeRoll100GIF Various pointed, brush, and roller skin electrodes are screwed into the wooden handle.  The lead wires insert  into the handle as well as the upper section of the cherry wood case.




NSHist1Shown to the left is another model of the Gaiffe stimulator consistent with its widespread use in the late part of the nineteenth century.

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