London’s Science Museum hosts a lovely virtual collection of objects related to medical history. The object above is described as a “pair of artificial arms for a child, Roehampton, England, 1964, noting that the arts were somehow “gas powered” (?). The chid for whom these arms were designed is understood to be a victim of his mother’s prenatal use of Thalidomide, a drug used to assist with sleep and combat morning sickness throughout the 1950s and up until 1962, when it was associated with thousands of infants born with deformed and diminished limbs. The limbs of this “jacket” were controlled by “by the child’s own short limbs or shoulders touching against sensitive valves on the inner surface of the ‘jacket’.” It’s also noted that most prosthetics of this sort were undoubtedly uncomfortable and usually discarded once the child reached teenage years.
Below are some other orthotics from the same site. Only the tip of the iceberg of what’s offered.
Child’s mechanical spinal support, England, 1940-1960
Child’s mechanical spine and head support, England, 1940-1960
Finger splint, England, 1960-1980
Leg and ankle splint, England, 1940-1960
Wrist and hand splint, England, 1960-1980
These two images “The First Attempt to Treat Cancer with X-Rays” and “Insertion of a Tube” were painted by Georges Chicotot, doctor, and one of the world’s first specialists in radiology. They are on display at he Musee de l’Assistance Publique, Hopitaux de Paris.
We created a Tumblr account recently and have been really digging the vintage medical scenes shared by Sutured Infection. Here’s a sample of what we’re crushing out on. We think you’ll understand.
Some days your nerve feel numbered.
A hand exerciser.
Equipment for studying the respiratory and cardiovascular systems.
Herbert List: “Instructive View into the Ribcage”, 1944
Electroretinogram: modern apparatus devised to measure the electric potential of the retina.
“Operating table developed by Dr. E.L. Doyen, called “Doyen’s Bed”, ancestor of all modern operating tables…”
And this is the afore-mentioend Dr. Doyen doing what he does best – tricky surgeries. In this case separating two “Hindoo twins” in 1902.
Lisa Wood and her Swallowing Plates reminded us of the topic of swallowed indigestibles, but we still somehow missed National Hairball Day on April 27. To make up for this sad omission we feature the hairball in its most elevated state: the bezoar.
“Bezoars” are accretions of matter fibrous matter such as hair (in cats, for instance) or plant matter (in grazing animals) that form in the stomachs of digestive systems. The name comes from a Persian word meaning “protection from poison,” and bezoars (such as the opulently mounted specimen above) were historically prized for this and other magical properties. The notion was eventually disproven when in 1575, when skeptical surgeon Ambroise Paré caught his cook stealing silver and convinced the disgraced man that if he would swallow poison and then submit to cure by bezoar, he would not be prosecuted for the theft. The trusting man died in agony several hours later.
The hairball or “Trichobezoar” is form of bezoar, which can appear in humans suffering from “Rapunzel’s Syndrome,” the compulsion swallow hair. The results… well, they’re not quite as fairytale-like as they should be.