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Old 28th Sep 2018, 8:46 pm   #1
G6Tanuki
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Default "High Frequency Therapeutic Apparatus".

People occasionally post here examples of the 'violet wand' radio-frequency therapeutic devices they've acquired. Most of these are really nothing more than showy placeboes.

At a car-boot-sale a while back I bought a book - see frontispiece - which though generally aimed at the commercial short-wave communications world [lots of talk of multiple-diversity receivers, directional antenna-arrays occupying a few tens of acres, and frequency-compensation at the interface between telephone-lines and short-wave transcontinental relays] it has an intriguing section on 'proper' medical RF-devices as were current in the mid-1940s.

These meant business: the descriptions include

"a model employing two water-cooled valves operating over a wave range from 2 to 8 metres, giving an H.F. output from 1.8kW at 2.5 metres up to 3.4kW on wavelengths of 6 metres and above".

"It is designed to give an output of 300 Watts at a fixed wavelength of 6 metres (50 megacycles)"

"This set operates on a wavelebgth of 6 metres (50 megacycles) and fives an output of 450 Watts".

The circuits shown all use self-excited power-oscillators with raw AC on the valve anodes. The RFI/TVI potential of these things must have been truly horriffic, being coupled to the patient [I'd prefer the term 'victim'] by unscreened wires.

I guess they got away with it because they'd generally be using these things during the day and at the time there was no daytime TV!

Anyone else got examples of these sorts of things??

Of course, in the early stages of WWII, similar diathermy-machines working around 27-30MHz were repurposed by Air Vice Marshal Edward Addison and '100 Group' as noise-generators to jam the german 'Knickebein' blind-bombing beams.... so perhaps medical-RFI had an excuse...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward...e_of_the_Beams
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Old 28th Sep 2018, 9:01 pm   #2
McMurdo
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Default Re: "High Frequency Therapeutic Apparatus".

aren't they still used? I remember going with my (late) mother for diathermy on her hips. The machine looked like a large spin dryer and had one of those wind-up timers that ticked like a bomb.
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Old 28th Sep 2018, 9:08 pm   #3
Malcolm G6ANZ
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Default Re: "High Frequency Therapeutic Apparatus".

I recall working on one of those RF diathermy machines. I was the only engineer (technician) who understood RF technology.
I used a pair of TY2-125 tetrodes and produced 300 W at about 50MHz, they are designed to produce heating deep inside muscles by RF heating as opposed to infra red heat which heats the skin and only a bit deeper.

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Old 28th Sep 2018, 9:28 pm   #4
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Default Re: "High Frequency Therapeutic Apparatus".

My maternal grandmother used one of these devices, a "6m diathermy set" as a private physiotherapist. It used 2x 3C150A triodes in a self-rectifying push-pull circuit with a coarse power output switch selecting 1.5- 2.5kV tappings on the large mains transformer and a thermocouple meter giving an idea of the power level. Mains voltage adjustment was by what were effectively large L and N in-line banana sockets applied to primary 150 - 250V tapping panel plugs on the rear panel- the 150V tapping certainly stuck in my mind as signifying "another era". ISTR sometime in the early '80s, she downsized house and the diathermy set was amongst many things that had been skipped by time I registered an interest- something I regretted, though that might have helped me stay to alive as a tinkering youth.... Inside, it was a sight to behold- despite the high voltages, it was all in neat parallel and right-angled un-insulated thick single copper wire linking valve-holders, switches, hefty tuning coils all constructed or supported on chunky ceramic bases, I recall that even the common grid resistor was like a chunk of finely-wound bar-fire element!
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Old 29th Sep 2018, 5:34 pm   #5
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Default Re: "High Frequency Therapeutic Apparatus".

Didn't Tesla observe some healing properties from the RF being generated by the apparatus he was working with?
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Old 29th Sep 2018, 7:58 pm   #6
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Default Re: "High Frequency Therapeutic Apparatus".

What is the modern view on the efficacy - and safety - of being exposed to powerful non-ionising radiation fields?

Wasn't there some concern in the past that engineers working at high powered transmitting stations could have their fertility impaired?


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Old 29th Sep 2018, 8:13 pm   #7
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Default Re: "High Frequency Therapeutic Apparatus".

That was suggested re Tesla. My friend was an Engineer on the Post Office Tower in 1968. All the young guys, in particular, were warned not to stand in front of active Parabolic Dishes. I try to keep an open mind re vintage therapeutic technology and have a lot of of info but no machines unfortunately! There are all sorts of reported cures even now using HF treatments, placebo or not. Cell structures do seem to have a related frequency structure [as demonstrated by contemporary research] and a VLF frequency can take them out altogether at sufficient wattage. The Proton [directed] Beam Therapy was discredited in the Tabloids not so long ago you may recall but Christies hospital in Manchester has spent a fortune on having a Proton Machine installed in a purpose built Wing so what do we make of that.

I always thought that the production [or re-invention after Tesla] of VHF Oscillations in the 1930's was very fortuitous in terms of the technology that assisted the War Effort-to say the very least. The various RF devices that were accepted then by the Medical Establishment [pre-war] seem to have been deemed to be of some use medically at least. At the lower electromagnetic level, my son had the sort of therapy employed by Prince Charles to resolve his pesky Polo injury and that is common in France. Jon was playing Cricket again later that season after being told he would have to wait a year and undergoing a number of 20 minute sessions with his leg in a magnetic field!

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Old 29th Sep 2018, 10:02 pm   #8
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Default Re: "High Frequency Therapeutic Apparatus".

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Originally Posted by Panrock View Post
What is the modern view on the efficacy - and safety - of being exposed to powerful non-ionising radiation fields?

Wasn't there some concern in the past that engineers working at high powered transmitting stations could have their fertility impaired?


Steve
RF radiation, as might be expected, heats up the body. I suppose that under some circumstances, that could even accelerate natural healing processes. I guess that the century of experience that we now have of transmitter engineers surviving a healthy lifetime of working in relatively high RF fields suggests that they are generally safe.

If that RF heating effect gets concentrated, the eye is the most vulnerable organ - I've heard of radar engineers being blinded by taking the instinctive wrong action of looking down a waveguide that happened to be 'live'. The cornea gets instantly cooked like a fried egg. Somewhat more worryingly, I have known of a couple of radar engineers who suffered sight problems after retirement. Whether that's sheer. coincidence or a possible long term effect of microwave radiation, I have no idea, but it would be useful to hear of any other examples.

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Old 30th Sep 2018, 4:17 am   #9
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Default Re: "High Frequency Therapeutic Apparatus".

Back around 1970, a friend of mine who ran a small business involved in microwave work told me that he’d been a freakish occurrence and had sustained a period of exposure at significant power (at ~2.4GHz) to his chest, to the extent that he began to feel ‘peculiar’ and realised he needed to move. A couple of weeks later he had a serious heart attack, which he was lucky to survive, and that was followed by other lesser attacks and he never worked again. He was in his 50’s and had been working very hard to keep his business going, but he was always totally convinced it was the exposure incident which had triggered it.

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Old 30th Sep 2018, 12:07 pm   #10
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Default Re: "High Frequency Therapeutic Apparatus".

When I was a TV apprentice in the early 60's, our workshop was in Ilkley west yorks. Ilkley had an RF cable system that was basically Band 1. The aerials were sited in a field just below Middleton Hospital.....in the daytime occasionally viewers were bugged by swirling patterns especially on BBC1 CH2 .. this was tracked down to a Diathermy machine use in the Physiotherapy dept. Large power on 50 mhz ish...the only cure was to re site our aerials to a field further north 1 mile away.
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Old 30th Sep 2018, 1:40 pm   #11
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Default Re: "High Frequency Therapeutic Apparatus".

Some members may be interested to look up the work of Royal Rife. Controversial certainly, bogus perhaps, but undoubtedly interesting. I make no further comment here, but the reported reaction of the large drug companies perhaps speaks for itself.
Note that all sorts of bogus 'Rife machines' have been offered since, which seem to bear only a passing resemblance to the original.
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Old 30th Sep 2018, 4:36 pm   #12
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Default Re: "High Frequency Therapeutic Apparatus".

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wendymott View Post
When I was a TV apprentice in the early 60's, our workshop was in Ilkley west yorks. Ilkley had an RF cable system that was basically Band 1. The aerials were sited in a field just below Middleton Hospital.....in the daytime occasionally viewers were bugged by swirling patterns especially on BBC1 CH2 .. this was tracked down to a Diathermy machine use in the Physiotherapy dept. Large power on 50 mhz ish...the only cure was to re site our aerials to a field further north 1 mile away.
Our first family TV in 1951 was a Pye FV1 12-inch set. A page in the user instructions carried screen photos of different kinds of interference - car ignition etc. One picture was of radio diathermy interference which showed loss of line sync over part of the screen. Despite living near the local hospital, I remember being slightly disappointed never to have seen this in reality.

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Old 1st Oct 2018, 9:19 pm   #13
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Default Re: "High Frequency Therapeutic Apparatus".

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hartley118 View Post
If that RF heating effect gets concentrated, the eye is the most vulnerable organ - I've heard of radar engineers being blinded by taking the instinctive wrong action of looking down a waveguide that happened to be 'live'. The cornea gets instantly cooked like a fried egg.
Some not-very-high-power-but-very-short-pulse-duration Astronomical RADAR stuff I worked on in the 1990s had a sticker on it which read "Dr. Cyclops says: Do not look into waveguide with remaining eye".
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Old 1st Oct 2018, 9:39 pm   #14
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Default Re: "High Frequency Therapeutic Apparatus".

Coincidence. A couple of weeks ago I nearly started a thread about diathermy machines.
The reason was that back in the early 90s, at a radio rally, I was approached by two students (medical physics??) asking if I knew where they could obtain an old diathermy machine from early 50s to enable resurrection of experiments but with new procedures. They told me about the fact that it seemed certain diseases had cells that resonated to the point of destruction at specific frequencies. However, they could not replicate this with modern equipment, hence needing the old gear to see if it had any special effect. If modern technology had missed something even. I think they were maybe from a Northern university.
I have occasionally wondered just what they were up to and how they got on.
Now, I think I know, due solely to this thread!
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Old 1st Oct 2018, 9:45 pm   #15
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Default Re: "High Frequency Therapeutic Apparatus".

The book I referred to has some references to early work - and lots of wild journalistic-quack hyperbole - relating to the use of specific frequencies to excite brain-cells, 'stimulate the protoplasm', destroy tumour-cells and similar nonsense.

Give me a day or so and I can post the gory details.
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Old 1st Oct 2018, 10:25 pm   #16
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Default Re: "High Frequency Therapeutic Apparatus".

There will always be band-waggoning charletons associated with anything new and dimly-understood- look at all the fake medicine associated with the new-fangled radioactivity at the time, including horrors such as radioactive toothpaste (though hopefully, this was fanciful description rather than reality). Even in the (relatively) modern age, the demise of leaded petrol brought snake-oil alleviatives in its wake- "special alloys", "Soviet-use Hurricanes" blah, yawn.

I don't know if diathermy has universal credibility/acceptance nowadays- presumably, it was considered to increase bloodflow to an area of heated tissue and hence stimulate healing. My grandmother's machine was apparently extremely expensive at the time, apparently a substantial part of the purchase price was met by Ford's at Dagenham whose workforce were a fair proportion of her clientele (and ol' Henry and his company are the subject of endless literature and not a little controversy in themselves....).
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Old 1st Oct 2018, 11:29 pm   #17
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Default Re: "High Frequency Therapeutic Apparatus".

The use of a hot compress is certainly an accepted medical procedure, on the basis that the heat open blood vessels, increases the flow and assists further healing! The "folk medicine" equivalent is the bread poultice dressing, applied as hot as the patient can stand. It's worked for me! The Diathermy Machine may have been regarded as a less messy and more scientific acceptable alternative. This tends to support what turretslug has just said and about Royal Rife in general. Further to Robinshack's very interesting encounter, Rife may have been a charleton but it's quite hard to believe that. His ideas are actually more supported by scientific theory now. It's true that they couldn't get rid of him fast enough but whether that was to protect the public [from what?] is open to some question. For very good reasons, the Medical Profession always has to take a conservative view but it's not so simple as that. When a young Australian Doctor experimented on himself in the eighties and produced a cheap non surgical treatment for stomach ulcers that he presented to a Medical Convention, it wasn't exactly welcomed with open arms-although it's well established now!

Dave W

Apologies for this more personal [but perhaps relevant] comment. My daughter, in her late twenties, has a complex visual problem for which she researched a specialist Opthalmic Practioner in Scotland [a long way from E Sussex]. Her second consultation [10 days ago] resulted in further advice and a new prescription that has enabled her to read subtitles and moving news feed txt for the first time! More importantly, having been told that her feet are not really in focus, there are less falls or encounters with door frames! We were shocked and dis-believing to hear that the Local Health Board have attempted to shut the Practise down-apparently because it's attracting too many patients and there's a subsequent on cost of some sort apparently.

That's what they claim anyway .
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Old 1st Oct 2018, 11:31 pm   #18
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Default Re: "High Frequency Therapeutic Apparatus".

Stretching the term "High Frequency", there was/is a group at Newcastle University who were attempting to treat epilepsy using a small brain implant which influenced neurons by producing red light https://www.epilepsysociety.org.uk/p...tment-07-04-14.

Many epileptic conditions respond very poorly to current drugs, pushing researchers to try alternative approaches. I haven't seen/heard anything more recently about this work.

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Old 2nd Oct 2018, 12:02 am   #19
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Default Re: "High Frequency Therapeutic Apparatus".

I've just googled it, they still make those big machines; except instead of a wind-up timer, they have an lcd touch screen.

I've fixed those rf heaters that are used to cure glue inside furniture joints. A quite modern bit of kit but with 2 great valves inside. If you turn them up too hight the wood sparks a bit.
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Old 2nd Oct 2018, 12:34 am   #20
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Default Re: "High Frequency Therapeutic Apparatus".

It's not unusual to hear the rasping of what I assume are those industrial RF heaters around 13.5 and 27 MHz on the HF bands- I imagine that they can go rather a long way under the right conditions but I don't suppose that they do QSL cards even if they could be identified....

Another last outpost of thermionics, then- I imagine that their simplicity, and robustness under difficult-to-define loading, must count in favour here.

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