Electricity Above the Waist

Standard disclaimers apply: Do at your own risk

Electricity 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.


To: SAADE
cc: Johnan
Subject: TKU Johnan / TENS safety issues regarding above the waist electrical work: one recap
Date: Tue 11/13/01 7:26 PM

Johnan,

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:

1) It is possible to use a TENS in the chest region.1 (See exceptions 3, 4 & 5, below.)

["Safe through chest if [charge/phase setting is] <20 microcoulombs"]

2) Do not place electrodes that would apply current to the carotid sinus (neck) region2

The FDA link [formerly at] www.fda.gov/cdrh/ode/300.pdf also mentions two permutations that could be fatal:

3) "Hazardous through chest if [charge/phase setting is] 75+ microcoulombs"3

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 cardiac arrhythmia."4

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.
; )

In uniform,
Officer Wes
www.officerwes.com


REFERENCES

Points 1 & 3 are from [document formerly at] www.fda.gov/cdrh/ode/300.pdf pp. 3-4:

III. OUTPUT CRITERIA

A. Monophasic pulses. (not exceeding 1 millisecond)*

Charge/phase (mC) [microcoulombs]

Minimum for effectiveness 3 (ref.2)

Maximum for effectiveness 7

Safe 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:

V. Labelling

C. Contraindications -- Labeling statements must exclude the following:

1. Any 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:

D. Warnings. Must include:

[1-7]

8. If the device is capable of delivering a charge per pulse of 25

microcoulombs (mC) 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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