Medical sciences in the early parts of the 20th century were far advanced from the medieval days of leeches, but still, most of the treatments and medical devices were misguided and often even barbaric by our modern standards.
Seeming to mean well, bizarre contraptions were built, claiming to aid the ailing patients. A little pseudoscience and quackery were also thrown in the mix.
Over years, scientists and doctors experimented with some really strange-looking devices, which had questionable effects on the patients, sometimes simply being a placebo.
Whether it was due to lack of research back then, or the opportunists were out to make a quick buck – the field of medicine had certainly gone through strange times.
These old photographs depict the horrible procedures of treatment, terrifying medical instruments, and haunting medical devices that, in many cases, had no real positive effect on patients.
(Another vintage photo collection of bizarre medical treatments can be found here).
This machine above was first introduced in the 1952, Denmark. It was used by patients whose lungs were paralyzed. The oxygen was delivered via a rubber concertina reservoir bag, which was constantly compressed by an electric motor.
The electroretinogram is still used today, but the early version of the device looks like something out of a science fiction horror movie.
The numerous wires going to the eyes make the woman in the photo either look like a cyborg being repaired or a victim under torture.
The cobalt machine (designed by Dr. Harold Johns) uses Cobalt-60 radiation therapy for cancer treatment. It treated more than 6700 patients. This technology dubbed as “Cobalt Bomb” revolutionized cancer treatment and saved millions of lives.
The coffin-like cabinet respirator, better known as the ‘iron lung’, was the state-of-the-art in life support technology in the first half of the 20th century.
The first iron lung was used at Boston Children’s Hospital to save the life of an eight-year-old girl with polio in 1928.
In technical terms, an iron lung is a type of negative pressure ventilator (NPV), a mechanical respirator which encloses most of a person’s body, and varies the air pressure in the enclosed space, to stimulate breathing.
It assists breathing when muscle control is lost, or the work of breathing exceeds the person’s ability.
Examples of the device include the Drinker respirator, the Emerson respirator, and the Both respirator. Iron lungs can be either manually or mechanically powered but normally are powered by an electric motor linked to a flexible pumping diaphragm (commonly opposite the end of the cylinder from the patient’s head).
Larger “room-sized” iron lungs were also developed, allowing for simultaneous ventilation of several patients (each with their heads protruding from sealed openings in the outer wall), with sufficient space inside for a nurse or a respiratory therapist to be inside the sealed room, attending the patients.
Need for iron lu ngtreatment may result from diseases including polio and botulism and certain poisons (for example, barbiturates, tubocurarine).
The use of this medical device is largely obsolete in modern medicine, as more modern breathing therapies have been developed, and due to the eradication of polio in most of the world.
(Photo credit: Flickr / Pinterest / Gizmodo / Britannica / Wikimedia Commons).