Weird Medicine

Grouping of medicinal artifacts from the collection of the Museum of Science and Technology, Ottawa, based on their peculiar uses, questionable efficiency, or simple strange and/or striking appearance.
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LEECH JAR : Circa 1850. Stylized "Container used to hold leeches used in medical procedures, with perforated lid to provide air" (Source: Picture link). Leeches were widely used in medicine in bloodletting practices because of their anticoagulant secretions, and are sometimes still used in modern medicine.

LEECH JAR : Circa 1850. Stylized "Container used to hold leeches used in medical procedures, with perforated lid to provide air" (Source: Picture link). Leeches were widely used in medicine in bloodletting practices because of their anticoagulant secretions, and are sometimes still used in modern medicine.

ARM PROSTHESIS : "Circa 1900-1950. An arm prosthesis fitted with hook or closed ring was more durable, and provided greater practical functionality for amputees than artificial limbs intended to mimic appearance of natural form. A hook was preferred by many because it allowed wearer to lift or carry, and to support a handle or shaft." (Source: Picture link)

ARM PROSTHESIS : "Circa 1900-1950. An arm prosthesis fitted with hook or closed ring was more durable, and provided greater practical functionality for amputees than artificial limbs intended to mimic appearance of natural form. A hook was preferred by many because it allowed wearer to lift or carry, and to support a handle or shaft." (Source: Picture link)

SCARIFICATOR : Manufactured between 1800-1899. Spring-loaded device that releases blades in order to cut the patient. This facilitated the practice and "treatment" of bloodletting. (Source: Picture link). A scarificator in action is demonstrated here, presented by the Museum of Science and Technology : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZNVEfGjjNQ.

SCARIFICATOR : Manufactured between 1800-1899. Spring-loaded device that releases blades in order to cut the patient. This facilitated the practice and "treatment" of bloodletting. (Source: Picture link). A scarificator in action is demonstrated here, presented by the Museum of Science and Technology : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZNVEfGjjNQ.

VIBRATING SEAT : Manufactured between 1930-1939. "Reportedly used in the prevention and/or treatment of kidney stones, [this is] Presumably a quack medicinal device, [as] The rationale [behind] the benefit of [the] vibration is not clear: It may have been believed that motion would deter mineral deposits from forming stones, or would dislodge such deposits before large stones could form." (Source: Picture link)

VIBRATING SEAT : Manufactured between 1930-1939. "Reportedly used in the prevention and/or treatment of kidney stones, [this is] Presumably a quack medicinal device, [as] The rationale [behind] the benefit of [the] vibration is not clear: It may have been believed that motion would deter mineral deposits from forming stones, or would dislodge such deposits before large stones could form." (Source: Picture link)

HOOKS AND CHAINS : Circa 1874-1920. "[This] Instrument was used for post-mortem examination of the body. Specifically, [they were] used to hold open [a] body cavity. Originally identified as [part of] an amputation kit, [but] absence of tourniquet & artery forceps [along with the chains]" supports otherwise. (Source: Picture link)

HOOKS AND CHAINS : Circa 1874-1920. "[This] Instrument was used for post-mortem examination of the body. Specifically, [they were] used to hold open [a] body cavity. Originally identified as [part of] an amputation kit, [but] absence of tourniquet & artery forceps [along with the chains]" supports otherwise. (Source: Picture link)

CAT DECEREBRATION DEVICE : Circa 1900-1930. "Used to position and support cat body during preparation and conduct of medical experiments consisting of the elimination of cerebral brain function in an animal by removing the cerebrum, cutting across the brain stem, or severing certain arteries in the brain stem. Frederick Miller, for whom this device was made, conducted research into reflexes. He worked on mostly cats, but also dogs, guinea pigs, and other small animals." (Source: Picture…

CAT DECEREBRATION DEVICE : Circa 1900-1930. "Used to position and support cat body during preparation and conduct of medical experiments consisting of the elimination of cerebral brain function in an animal by removing the cerebrum, cutting across the brain stem, or severing certain arteries in the brain stem. Frederick Miller, for whom this device was made, conducted research into reflexes. He worked on mostly cats, but also dogs, guinea pigs, and other small animals." (Source: Picture…

ARTIFICIAL HEART-LUNG MACHINE : Manufactured before 1950. This allowed to "Bypass [a] living heart, so that surgeon may work in a relatively bloodless field. [This] One [is] of a series of artificial heart-lung machines used in experimental surgery on animals. The machine ensures that the entire body in supplied with oxygenated blood: this provides for the healthy functioning of the kidney, liver and spinal cord throughout the surgery." (Source: Picture link)

ARTIFICIAL HEART-LUNG MACHINE : Manufactured before 1950. This allowed to "Bypass [a] living heart, so that surgeon may work in a relatively bloodless field. [This] One [is] of a series of artificial heart-lung machines used in experimental surgery on animals. The machine ensures that the entire body in supplied with oxygenated blood: this provides for the healthy functioning of the kidney, liver and spinal cord throughout the surgery." (Source: Picture link)

HEMOPERFUSION CARTRIDGE : Circa 1977. "[This was] Used as filter to remove toxic or waste substances from blood as [it] is pumped through a device outside the patient's body. Blood is passed over the sorbent material, which attracts and holds the toxins, and allows the 'cleansed' blood to be returned to the patient. This cartridge is believed to contain resin sorbents." (Source: Picture link)

HEMOPERFUSION CARTRIDGE : Circa 1977. "[This was] Used as filter to remove toxic or waste substances from blood as [it] is pumped through a device outside the patient's body. Blood is passed over the sorbent material, which attracts and holds the toxins, and allows the 'cleansed' blood to be returned to the patient. This cartridge is believed to contain resin sorbents." (Source: Picture link)

PNEUMOTHORAX APPARATUS : Circa 1920. "Used to pump air into the chest cavity in order to collapse [the] lung in treatment of tuberculosis. For many years, use of the pneumothorax apparatus was the only [active] treatment available for TB." (Source: Picture link)

PNEUMOTHORAX APPARATUS : Circa 1920. "Used to pump air into the chest cavity in order to collapse [the] lung in treatment of tuberculosis. For many years, use of the pneumothorax apparatus was the only [active] treatment available for TB." (Source: Picture link)

UNIDENTIFIED ARTIFACT : "Home built, [this] May have been used as a support or stand for an ocular implant, or as a protective from over which eye dressings would have been applied." (Source: Picture link)

UNIDENTIFIED ARTIFACT : "Home built, [this] May have been used as a support or stand for an ocular implant, or as a protective from over which eye dressings would have been applied.

REDUCING MACHINE : Manufactured after 1926. "Used to treat overweight or obese patients by means of external manipulation or vibration. To be healthy, you no longer had to use your own muscles for power; motors furnished the power to stretch and tone the body." This would have been equipped with a belt of brace in order to attach the patient to the machine. (Source: Picture link)

REDUCING MACHINE : Manufactured after 1926. "Used to treat overweight or obese patients by means of external manipulation or vibration. To be healthy, you no longer had to use your own muscles for power; motors furnished the power to stretch and tone the body." This would have been equipped with a belt of brace in order to attach the patient to the machine. (Source: Picture link)

ELECTRO-THERAPY APPARATUS : Circa 1890. This "Newly invented improved magneto-electric machine for nervous diseases" is "Purported to relieve a variety of physical & mental ailments by application of electrical current to the patient. It is an example of technical advances being misused to promote quack medicine." The box's instructions indicates it was, among other things, used in treating "Toothache, Tic-Doloreux, or Neuralgia". (Source: Picture link)

ELECTRO-THERAPY APPARATUS : Circa 1890. This "Newly invented improved magneto-electric machine for nervous diseases" is "Purported to relieve a variety of physical & mental ailments by application of electrical current to the patient. It is an example of technical advances being misused to promote quack medicine." The box's instructions indicates it was, among other things, used in treating "Toothache, Tic-Doloreux, or Neuralgia". (Source: Picture link)

ARTIFICIAL AIRWAY : Circa 1940. Mechanical ventilation device, assumedly endotracheal; If so, it would have been inserted through the mouth to sit in the trachea, enabling the passage of air into the lungs. (Source: Picture Link. Wikipedia)

If so, it would have been inserted through the mouth to sit in the trachea, enabling the passage of air into the lungs.

ULTRA VIOLET RAY OSCILLATOR : "Circa 1930-1939. Used for electrosurgery as well as ultraviolet radiation therapy, this is an example of a medical application of the Tesla coil. Among other procedures, the device allowed to explore the sinuses. However, ultra violet rays are detrimental to health." (Source: Picture link)

ULTRA VIOLET RAY OSCILLATOR : "Circa 1930-1939. Used for electrosurgery as well as ultraviolet radiation therapy, this is an example of a medical application of the Tesla coil. Among other procedures, the device allowed to explore the sinuses. However, ultra violet rays are detrimental to health." (Source: Picture link)

DR. YOUNGS' IDEAL RECTAL DILATORS :  Manufactured and sold from the late nineteenth century to the 1940s, these dilators were purported to "stretch or dilate rectal muscles in order to alleviate constipation & hemmoroids".  However, Dr. Young did admit that some people panicked upon seeing the dilators. Furthermore, the devices were condemned in 1940 for false advertising and for being dangerous to health when used as prescribed (Source: Wikipedia, Picture link).

DR. YOUNGS' IDEAL RECTAL DILATORS : Manufactured and sold from the late nineteenth century to the 1940s, these dilators were purported to "stretch or dilate rectal muscles in order to alleviate constipation & hemmoroids". However, Dr. Young did admit that some people panicked upon seeing the dilators. Furthermore, the devices were condemned in 1940 for false advertising and for being dangerous to health when used as prescribed (Source: Wikipedia, Picture link).

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