Electro and Mechano Therapy podcasts


I'm ranger Mark Blaeuer at the Fordyce, which has been the visitor center for Hot Springs National Park since 1989. It functioned as a bathhouse between 1915 and 1962.

We're standing in one of the massage rooms for men on second floor of the building, and the popular service often featured, of course, hand massage based on Swedish massage, which was locally called medicinal massage. And somebody would lie down on the massage table and receive treatment from the masseur there. Of course there were many other services that could take place in these rooms. For instance, there was a sort of portable electric light bath sometimes called a photophore, just big enough to insert an arm or a leg perhaps. There were vibrators and of course Russian heat lamps, so they used light as well as physical touch. I might mention as well that these massage rooms were a later addition, because the next-door electro-mechanotherapy room at one point occupied much of this space. And you can tell be the tile patterns on the floor that two extra rooms were created by cutting down the size of the mechanotherapy room.

In the middle massage room for the men, of course another massage table. You can see the sorts of linament, a few among many, that they might have used on the person receiving the massage. And one feature of this room, aside from the vibrator, is the violet ray machine. When you plug it in, the glass attachment-there were several of these attachments that came in each case-would glow purple. And once again, as that was put in proximity to the skin, you would get sort of a tingle.

In the third or original men's massage area, you again had a massage table, another heat lamp, and an electric massage device. The electrode on this could produce different kinds of current. In fact this wall cabinet would have provided all sorts-surging sinusoidal, faradic, galvanic currents, and so on. So, different electrodes would be attached to different places. And this was used for a few years; eventually it was phased out in favor of going back to the standard hand massage.

Last updated: April 10, 2015

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