By Invitation

A close-up look at a 'shocking' treatment

Electroconvulsive therapy as practised today saves patients where medication has failed and is nothing like the harrowing scenes depicted in the movies.

Dr Tor Phern Chern stood waiting with two nurses, a health attendant and an anaesthetist as the patient was wheeled on a trolley into the well-lit room. Without much fuss or haste, the nurses rechecked the name tag on the patient's wrist to confirm his identity, and connected him to the equipment that would monitor his heart rate and brain activity.

While the anaesthetist chatted with the patient and inserted an intravenous catheter on the back of his right hand, a nurse inflated a blood-pressure cuff around his right calf to prevent the muscle relaxant that he would be receiving shortly from reaching his right foot, which would be where the team could observe the muscle contractions.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 20, 2018, with the headline 'A close-up look at a 'shocking' treatment'. Print Edition | Subscribe