Massage therapy is an ancient practice that has remained popular because of the presumed increase in circulation to diseased tissues. The discovery of electricity allowed healers to better provide "healing oxygen" through vibration.
vibration of the “internal organs” with the Macaura’s Pulsocon (ca. 1920)
Small hand operated home devices were fashionable in the early twentieth century, and they were touted to cure almost any disease. One of the more popular was the Macaura Pulsocon, invented by the “vibrotherapist” Gerald Macaura, who established his therapeutic institute in Manchester, England in 1908.
early twentieth century eyeball massagers
Exercising increases strength, so certainly the logical treatment for “weak eyes” would be to exercise those muscles, and thus strengthen eyesight. Physicians jumped to that conclusion and came up with a variety of eyeball massagers, their production and sale perfectly legal since there was no requirement at the time to prove their safety or efficacy. (left to right): the Ideal Company and the Neu Vita massager
Dr. Swift's massage treatments
From the time of Hippocrates, the term “hysteria,” or literally “womb disease,” has been considered a female disorder, and the symptoms were many, including anxiety, insomnia, swooning (or perhaps petit mal seizures), and almost any abdominal discomfort. Some physicians treated this "disease" of female patients their office.
early twentieth century home hand electric vibrators
In the early twentieth century, vaginal stimulation with vibratory devices for the treatment of female hysteria was a common and lucrative part of many physicians’ office practices, and small electric vibrators were frequently found in homes throughout America for personal use. (left): Calvete vibrator #2; (right): the White Cross vibrator
Battle Creek Vibratory Chair by the Sanitarium and Hospital Equipment Co., Massage Vibrator by the Battle Creek Equipment Co.
Larger pieces of vibrating equipment, including beds and chairs, could be found in hospitals and sanitariums for the treatment of a variety of systemic disorders, as well as for an improvement in general metabolism, cell nutrition, body secretion, elimination, peristalsis, and blood and lymph flow to name just a few of the purported benefits.