Posts tagged medical oddities.
Polio is an infectious viral disease that enters through the mouth or nose, then travels to the spinal cord. There it attacks nerves that control muscle activity, causing temporary or permanent paralysis. Usually polio affects leg, arm, stomach and back muscles. But if it paralyzes chest muscles needed for breathing, it can be fatal.
Just as World War II ended, the most severe epidemics hit the nation. Most polio outbreaks began in the summer. Since children were most frequently affected, communities reacted with dread, often closing down public swimming pools and movie theaters. The epidemic peaked in North Carolina and the United States in 1952, when a record 57,628 cases were reported nationally. Some referred to the national state of panic as “polio hysteria.”
The following year, Dr. Jonas Salk and his associates developed an injectable polio vaccine made from inactivated virus. Schoolchildren by the thousands were vaccinated, reducing the incidence of polio by almost 90 percent within two years. Later, the Salk vaccine was replaced by the Sabin oral vaccine, which was easier and less expensive to administer.
Today polio has been eradicated in the United States, where the last case caused by “wild” virus was reported in 1979. Worldwide, while vaccination campaigns continue, hundreds of new cases are still reported each year.
Polio killed many victims by paralyzing the muscles needed for breathing. But many more survived, thanks to a device invented in 1929, the iron lung. The patient lay on a bed that could slide in and out of a large metal tank. At one end was a motor-powered “bellows” that pumped air in and out of the chamber. As air pressure increased in the chamber, it pushed down on the patient’s chest, forcing air out of the lungs. When the pressure decreased, the chest expanded, taking air into the lungs.
Some patients regained their ability to breathe on their own after a few weeks or months in an iron lung. Others remained dependent on the device for years.
The cost of an iron lung was high—about $1,500 during the 1930s, the average price of a home at that time. To help families afford respiratory treatment and medical equipment such as braces and crutches, North Carolina Blue Plans began offering additional coverage for polio.
Skeleton of small child
This skeleton is noted to display the characteristics of a severe case of spina bifida, without ancephaly, but with hydrocephalus.
From a museum collection - skeleton from the mid/late 19th century China.
Heroin is known today as one of the most addictive substances in the world, but few realize that it was actually sold by Bayer as a cough suppressant for children. Scientists believed that it was a non-addictive alternative to morphine, from which it was synthesized, but of course, that was soon proven wrong.
Test subjects often said the drug made them feel ‘heroic’, which led to the choice of brand name. Heroin was seen as a godsend for sufferers of tuberculosis, including children.
In 1913, as hospitals teemed with patients miserably addicted to the ‘medicine’, Bayer decided to stop making it.
Got a migraine? Maybe it would feel better if a doctor drilled a hole into your skull – without anesthesia. But probably not. The process of intentionally punching a hole in the skull – known as trepanation – was once considered the best option for epileptic seizures, mental disorders and head injuries, and involved some of the most amazingly terrifying medical instruments you’ve ever seen. It has been around at least since neolithic times, and some people actually believe that it has a place in modern medicine.
Ah, the first version of the Aperture Science Knee Replacement Enhancement.
Apparently it was quite uncomfortable….and actually led to a lot more injuries than not wearing the boot.
Trial and error kids. This is what we test for.
Version 2 was much better, but it all culminated in the Aperture Science Long Fall Boots.
Experimental reconstructive surgery procedure for an injured soldier in World War I.
James Wallace Black (Feb. 10, 1825 - 1896): Enchondroma of the Scapula, 1863 - Albumen print (Princeton University Art Museum).
Julia Popova, 22, was stabbed by a mugger as she walked home from work one day last autumn - but she was so traumatised by the attack that she walked home without realising the knife was embedded in her, just a fraction of an inch from her spinal cord.
‘This is our photo, she was here,’ a senior doctor at the hospital in the north of the Russian capital told the MailOnline last night.
The low quality of the image, which was published in British newspapers today, led to speculation it was faked - especially since it first appeared in a brash Moscow tabloid newspaper and on a website widely believed by locals to run stories of doubtful authenticity.
But he said: ‘The case was last autumn. She spent about 40 minutes walking home after she was attacked.’ Despite the length of the blade, he said, it missed her spinal cord and major arteries in her neck. ‘The knife was stuck in her bone,’ he said. ‘It’s an absolutely unique and extraordinary case. She was so lucky. The only thing damaged was the bone.’
Somatoparaphrenia is a type of delusion where one denies ownership of a limb or an entire side of one’s body. As an example, a patient would believe that her or his own arm would belong to the doctor, or that another patient left it behind.
In the fifth episode of the fourth season of Grey’s anatomy, a man suffering from somatoparaphrenia, misdiagnosed as body dysmorphic disorder, wants the doctors to amputate his foot because it does not belong to him.
Recent studies have shown that having the individual stand in front of a mirror, and look at the limb attached to their body can be effective therapy!
The Woman Who Turned Round And Round
Location of Damage: Right Posterior Parietal Cortex
After her stroke, Mrs. S. had been unable to recognize or respond to things on her left (this would include both external objects, and parts of her own body). For example, she often put makeup on the right side of her face but not her left. Mrs. S was suffering from contralateral neglect, which is a disturbance of one’s ability to respond to stimuli on the side of the body opposite (contralateral) to the site of brain damage. In the case of Mrs. S, her stroke had damaged her brain’s right posterior parietal lobe and, thus, she was plagued by left-side contralateral neglect.
This disability, as one might imagine, created many problems for her. One particularly troublesome problem was that she had difficulty getting enough to eat. When a plate full of food was placed in front of her, she could only see the food on the right side of the plate and, therefore, only ate that much, despite being very hungry. Over time, Mrs. S. developed a clever way of getting more food if she was still hungry. While in a wheelchair, she would turn it around to the right in a full circle and stop when the remaining half of her meal would become visible. She would eat that, then turn once more until the remaining half of the previous portion came into view, and again, eat that. She would repeat this process until she was content or the plate became emptied, whichever came first.