These World War One Medical Innovations Will Baffle And Amaze You

June 17, 2014

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I, which tore through Europe from 1914 to 1918 and took millions of lives with it. Though most people who would remember the event are gone, the Great War still reverberates through our lives even today. In fact, many life-saving medical innovations that we now take for granted were created during that period by field surgeons and nurses who needed to respond quickly to a number of potentially fatal ailments.

World War One Medical Innovations Field Hospital

A church converted for the entirety of the war as an American army field hospital. Source: Getty Images

Blood transfusions, which help prevent patients from dying of shock or blood loss, started to be used just before the war. It wasn’t until the the war began, though, that the technique was truly put to the test.

World War One Medical Innovations Blood Transfusion

A German blood transfusion kit circa early 20th century. Source: eBay

Sepsis, an all-too-common hospital malady back then, was beaten with the invention of antiseptics. And though it sounds obvious to us today, it was also during WWI that practicing good hygiene and cleanliness in hospitals became a prominent strategy for disease prevention. Penicillin wasn’t discovered until 1928, a decade after the armistice that ended the war in 1918. But even without antibiotics, WWI surgeons brought us out of medicine’s dark ages.

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The Altered Faces Of War

September 3, 2013

World War 1 Veteran Face Mask

Given its crushing trench nature and use of large-caliber artillery, World War One saw some of the most devastating wounds suffered by soldiers in the history of warfare. Before the days of sophisticated reconstructive and plastic surgery, physicians were tasked with covering the scars, gaping holes and gashes streaked across the faces of thousands of veterans. Convening art with science in pursuit of the greater good, surgeons and sculptors worked together to create masks to conceal these devastating, identity-consuming histories from the veteran and the public, allowing veterans to lead something of a normal life following their return home.

Each mask, which was custom-designed and made of either rubber or metal, bore the face of the affected man’s pre-war portrait. And while the remaining black and white photos don’t necessarily convey the masks’ sculpting or painting accuracy, veteran thank-you letters to the mask-makers provide all the proof you need. Said one, “Thanks to you, I will have a home…The woman I love no longer finds me repulsive, as she had a right to do.”

Read more about it at the Smithsonian.

One Woman Saved The Lives Of 100,000 Displaced Persons

August 8, 2013

Following the 1988 collapse of the Somalian government, Dr. Hawa Abdi took it upon herself to provide refuge for the increasing amounts of people seeking sanctuary from the devastating amount of fighting. Through the years, her one-person clinic transformed into a 400-bed hospital, and over 90,000 lives were saved.

The World According To Doctor Presence

February 18, 2013

Unfortunately and unsurprisingly, Africa’s inhabitant-to-doctor ratio is over 100 times that of its North American counterparts. Thankfully, organizations like Doctors of the World are taking meaningful measures to combat the dearth of doctors in one of the world’s most impoverished areas.

Six Of The World’s Most Bizarre Modern Medical Treatments

January 26, 2013

Frog juice

Frog juice is a concoction from Peru that is believed to restore the sex drive of its drinker. The Peruvian Viagra is a mixture of honey, aloe vera plant, an Andean root plant and – as the name suggests – a no longer ribbiting frog.

Bizarre Modern Medical Treatments: Beer Spas

Bizarre Modern Medicine Beer Spa

Source: Morava 24

In the Czech Republic, the effective treatment of sore muscles and joints, relaxation and improved complexion can all be achieved through one thing – a beer spa. As the name suggests, the sufferer bathes in beer, where the yeast is said to have cleansing properties.


Bizarre Modern Medicine Beer Spa 2

Source: Hotel Horal

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Six Of History’s Most Outrageous Medical Treatments

January 22, 2013

The Thomas Jefferson Ritter methods

Originally published in 1910, the Mother’s Remedies: Over One Thousand Tried and Tested Remedies from Mothers of the United States and Canada by Dr. Thomas Jefferson Ritter had a host of peculiar panaceas for common ailments. Among the bizarre medical treatments, Dr. Ritter prescribed cocaine for nasal congestion; an olive oil, ammonia, egg and turpentine concoction or cocaine for sore throat; inhaling chloroform for asthma; and a mixture of cannabis and lard for acne.

Removing cataracts

Outrageous Historical Treatments Cataract Removal

In the Middle Ages, cataracts were removed by inserting a sharp instrument – a knife or large needle – through the cornea and forcing the lens of the eye out of its capsule. So if your only Ophthalmological woe is in regards to your uncomfortable contacts, be thankful.

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