Polio patients in iron lungs in 1952. (Nostalgia doesn't always mean 'good' ... but what IS good is that I never got polio ... and that the polio vaccine was created. Millions upon millions of people have had it ... polio is not the scary thing it was when I was a child. Thank the Good Lord.
This plastic doll in its own model iron lung was made in order to show child polio patients and their family the treatment the child would receive. An iron lung assists a patient whose breathing muscles have been paralysed by disease. Although the heyday of the iron lung was during the 1930s, 40s and 50s, some elderly polio survivors are still using them. The teaching doll was used at the Lord Mayor Treloar Orthopaedic Hospital in Alton, Hampshire, England. Credit: Science Museum London
Rows of irons lungs filled hospital wards at the height of the polio outbreaks of the 1940s and 1950s. Polio vaccination programs have virtually eradicated new cases of poliomyelitis in the United States. Because of this, and also the development of modern ventilators and widespread use of tracheal intubation and tracheotomy, the iron lung has virtually disappeared from modern medicine. For example, in 1959, there were 1,200 people using tank respirators in the United States, but by 2004…
At first glance, this image shocks and saddens from the enormity of the problem of sick children in need of iron lungs. On closer examination, it is clear that the equipment that usually accompanied people using iron lungs, such as tracheotomy tubes and pumps and tankside tables, is not present (compare the picture to photographs in the section on the iron lung). This scene was staged for a film.