Haunting Medical Practices From History

By | March 8, 2023

At home x-ray machines were a normal way to study in the early 20th century

Think back to the first time you remember visiting a doctor’s office. All of the equipment looked so large and frightening, and the examination was definitely strange, but regardless of which decade you made your first doctor’s visit it couldn’t have been as weird as the medical practices of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The tools, prescriptions, and ideas that were going around at the time certainly helped modern medicine get to where it is now, but it was definitely weird. Come along while we take a look at some of the most odd medicines and health practices from long ago. Let’s go!

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While there were definitely universities with the ability to instruct young medical professionals in the art of the x-ray in the early 20th century, they weren’t as prevalent as they are today.

X-rays were only discovered in 1895, and in order for young medical hopefuls to study this new method of looking inside the body there was a text book released in 1902 called A System Of Instruction In X-ray Methods And Medical Uses Of Light, Hot-Air, Vibration And High-Frequency Currents. This book was meant for home study and it allowed young medical practitioners to give x-rays in the safety of their homes. 

This portable polio respirator was one of the smaller models available

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Polio was one of the worst viruses to infect the western world in spite of the fact that its most deadly incarnation was incredibly rare. This viral illness causes nerve damage, fever, and if it’s bad enough a loss of reflexes and muscle aches that make it impossible to breathe.

When you think about polio there’s no doubt that the iron lung comes to mind. This tank respirator was used to treat people in the early stages of polio who found it hard to breathe after polio paralyzed muscle groups in their chests.There were numerous variations on the tank respirator, and this design seems to offer a degree of comfort while still fixing a patient with a huge technical costume.

The last case of polio in the U.S. was recorded in 1979, although the virus still occurs in parts of Asia and Africa.