As time progresses, transformations touch every aspect of our world. From technology and infrastructure to travel and undoubtedly medicine. Reflecting on what once passed as groundbreaking and cutting-edge treatment is quite astonishing. The contrast with today’s norms makes many of those approaches appear more like medieval instruments of suffering than healing methods.
Prepare to embark on a journey that will make your thoughts wander and your emotions alternate between amazement and incredulity. Together, we’ll delve into a compilation of unsettling historical medical rituals, devices, and images that offer a glimpse into the past practices of medicine.
Lewis Sayre’s scoliosis treatment
Masks worn by doctors during the Plague. The beaks held scented substances to mask the scent of death and dying.
Children in an iron lung before the advent of the polio vaccination. Many children lived for months in these machines, though not all survived. c. 1937
Corset damage to a ribcage. 19th century London
Dr. Kilmer’s Female Remedy
Tanning babies at the Chicago Orphan Asylum, 1925, to offset winter rickets
Woman with an artificial leg, too embarrassed to show her face c. 1890-1900
Wooden prosthetic hand, c. 1800
Blood transfusion bottle, England 1978
Dr. Clark’s Spinal Apparatus advertisement, 1878
Neurological exam with electrical device, c. 1884
Antique prosthetic leg
“Walter Reed physiotherapy store” 1920’s
US Civil War surgeon’s kit
Boy in rolling “invalid cart” c. 1915
Obstetric phantom, Italy 1700-1800. Tool to teach medical students and midwives about childbirth
Claude Becks early defibulator
Antique birthing chair used until the 1800s
Knives for surgery, China, 1801-1920.
Anatomical Model. Doctors were not allowed to touch the women’s bodies, so they would point to describe pain locations
Radiology nurse technician, WWI France 1918
1855-1860. One of first surgical procedures using ether as an anesthetic
Rush Medical College lecture auditorium, 1900, Chicago
Leonid Rogozov, the only surgeon on an Antarctic expedition, performing surgery on himself after suffering from appendicitis. April 30, 1961