How Is Electricity Used in Medical Treatments?

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Medical treatments use electricity in several ways, including transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation therapy, implanted electronic pacemakers and defibrillators. These electronic devices help with pain management and maintenance of the body's natural electrical rhythms, according to WebMD and the Mayo Clinic.

Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, or TENS, therapy uses electrical stimulation to manage and provide short-term relief from pain. The battery-operated TENS unit attaches to the body by means of electrodes on the skin. By sending electrical impulses to the nerves, TENS therapy scrambles the pain signal to the brain, according to WebMD.

Implanted electronic pacemakers mimic the action of the heart. Pacemakers consist of a pulse generator containing a battery, electrical circuitry designed to regulate the rate at which pulses reach the heart, and electrodes placed in one or more chambers of the heart to deliver the pulses, controlling the rate at which the heart beats. The Mayo Clinic indicates that most pacemakers also have sensors to detect breathing rate and body motion in order to increase the heart rate when exercising to meet the increase in the body's need for oxygen and blood.

When a person suffers an abnormal heart rhythm or ventricular fibrillation, a defibrillator helps to restore the heart to its normal rhythm. Once only available in hospitals, defibrillators are available in businesses, shopping malls and even homes. Automated external defibrillators test the heart rhythm to ensure the therapy is appropriate and then provide the appropriate electrical charge.