Electricity Above the Waist
Standard disclaimers apply: Do at your own risk
above the waist can kill you.
This has led to widely used dungeon guidelines that prohibit electrical play above the waist
with one common exception being for violet wands.
But, under very specific circumstances, other electrical play above the waist is possible.
A local leatherman named Johnan gave a great presentation on medical TENS units and affordable electrical play at SAADE November 9, 2001. At his presentation, Johnan included some work with the medical TENS above the waist. That ran counter to the "no electricity above the waist" prohibitions that I'd always heard. And yet, just the day before, my chiropractor had my own back and shoulders connected to a medical TENS. Johnan provided references and qualifiers. The short list are these:
Below is a thank-you e-mail I sent to Johnan after his presentation. It includes a longer recap of the discussion that his presentation generated.
Subject: TKU Johnan / TENS safety issues regarding above the waist electrical work: one recap
Date: Tue 11/13/01 7:26 PM
Thank you for your TENS presentation Friday which included many creative ways to make electrowork financially accessible. (And thank you David & Bamm! for the demo-ees.)
While there are
many delightful things that can be done below the waist, I appreciate, too,
that you provided resources to independently review the question about using
TENS *above* the waist. The FDA link [formerly at] www.fda.gov/cdrh/ode/300.pdf
confirms two points from your presentation:
through chest if [charge/phase setting is] <20 microcoulombs"]
The FDA link [formerly at] www.fda.gov/cdrh/ode/300.pdf
also mentions two permutations that could be fatal:
4) "Charge per pulse of
25 microcoulombs (mC) or
greater may be sufficient to cause electrocution. Electrical current of this
magnitude must not flow through the thorax [chest] because it may cause a
At the SAADE presentation you stressed an important
additional point that I'll label #5:
5) TENS units are medical
devices that have undergone FDA testing on humans. Folsom units and PES units have not
undergone such testing, so these would not be good
candidates for electrowork above the waist.
I suspect it is a combination of 2-5 that got us to
the "no electroplay above the waist"
abbreviation for play party rules.
Thank you again for your presentation.
And the handsome camouflage uniform was a nice touch.
III. OUTPUT CRITERIA
Monophasic pulses. (not exceeding 1 millisecond)*
Charge/phase (mC) [microcoulombs]
Minimum for effectiveness 3 (ref.2)
Maximum for effectiveness 7
through chest (ANSI/AAMI NS-4--1985) 20
Hazardous through chest 75
Cardiac threshold for pacing 100 ±25
Point 2 is from [document
formerly at] www.fda.gov/cdrh/ode/300.pdf pp. 4-5:
Contraindications -- Labeling statements must exclude the following:
electrode placement that applies current to the carotid sinus (neck) region.
Point 4 is from [document
formerly at] www.fda.gov/cdrh/ode/300.pdf p. 5:
Warnings. Must include:
the device is capable of delivering a charge per pulse of 25
or greater, there should be a prominently placed
statement warning that stimulus delivered by this
device may be sufficient
to cause electrocution. Electrical current of this
magnitude must not flow
through the thorax [chest] because it may cause a cardiac arrhythmia.
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