Flu Mask and Childbirth in Circles: Weird Historical Medical Devices
You’ve probably heard someone mention lately that we’re living through medical history. With all the advancements to address COVID-19, it seems like our industry is flourishing now more than ever.
We thought, in light of these somewhat discouraging times, it might be nice to have a look at just how far we’ve come as a medical industry. So get ready to read about even more weird historical medical devices.
The Flu Mask
We’re living in a COVID-19 world, so the concept of masks isn’t exactly foreign to us. Still, you might be surprised to learn that flu masks were used one hundred years ago, back during the 1918 flu pandemic.
Here’s a fun fact: this pandemic was called the Spanish flu at the time, but the first known case was in Kansas…so why did our ancestors call it the Spanish flu? Because every nation was so caught up in World War I that they didn’t want to admit a weakness by saying their people were sick. They denied having a flu. Spain was the first country to actually admit something was going on, and what did they get for it? A pandemic named after them.
Anyway, pandemic name aside, the flu mask of 1918 was a device unlike any other. Imagine an elephant trunk, except it’s strapped to a human’s nose and then filtered through two separate filtration systems. All we have to say is we’re glad to see this has improved over the past 100 years! Can you imagine working in that?
Childbirth in Circles
Technically this was a patented design. It’s not clear if this device was ever actually built or used, but it’s just so wild that we had to include it.
The full name of this device is the Apparatus for Facilitating the Birth of a Child by Centrifugal Force. Yeah. It’s a mouthful, and it was designed to do…well, exactly what it sounds like.
A pregnant person would be strapped to a bed in the middle of a circular track with their legs facing the outside of the ring and their head at the center. Then, as they attempted to give birth, the patient would be spun in circles. The theory was the centrifugal force of the apparatus would make childbirth more effective. We’re just glad this one never actually saw the light of day. It sounds more like a carnival ride than a medical device.
When it comes to weird medical history, there really isn’t a shortage of devices and treatments to look at. Still, it’s easy to look back and laugh at our predecessors struggling to address ailments that are commonly treated today. When you’re living through one of those times of innovation, it’s a little different, isn’t it?
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