Train track 'therapy' remedies pain
Jakarta - Lying across train tracks is not normally associated with good health, but for a growing number of Indonesians it has become an effective alternative to conventional medical therapy for easing aches and pains.
They say the mild current that passes through their bodies when they lie across the track makes pain go away and eases the symptoms of conditions ranging from diabetes to arthritics.
One particular track in western Jakarta, the capital, has become popular with those who are either too poor to afford conventional medical treatment or for whom those treatments have failed.
Husni, who like many Indonesians uses only one name, said his life has improved immensely since he learned of the railway track "therapy".
"I had an accident that fractured a [leg] bone and could not do anything before, but now I can get up by myself and walk," the 72-year-old said.
"That's thanks to the 2.5 months of therapy I did recently."
According to government statistics, more than 30 million of Indonesia's 24.1 million people are officially poor, and the country's national health service is often accused of being too expensive. As a result, alternative therapies abound.
Inah, a 52-year-old therapist, lives 10km from the area, but said that the tracks brought her relief in only 12 days from pain caused by excess uric acid in her system.
"It was hard to move my hand but thanks to God, it is now getting better," she said.
"I was having routine checks with a doctor before and paid 10 000 rupiah ($1.18) for each visit, but nothing changed."
Physical therapists around the world often use electrical stimulation via electrodes to ease the pain caused by injury or disease, with the electrical signal disrupting the pain signal being sent from the affected area to the surrounding nerves.
No studies have been conducted on the medical benefits of electricity from the railroad tracks but local medical practioner Dwi Yani said the results speak for themselves - although she also warned of the potential dangers of using uncontrolled electric shocks.
"There are some diseases where electricity is used for treatment, but not all diseases. Still, here the therapy has been used for everything - which will have an impact on the body, brain and heart."
But for officials trying to keep the trains running safely and on time, the "therapy" seekers are a headache.
There have been no accidents - yet.
"This activity is very dangerous for them," said Suardi, stationmaster at Rawa Buaya station.
"They are disturbing train travel too."