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June 19, 2016

12 Vintage Photos That Show Terrifying Medical Treatments in the Past

With the wonders modern medicine works every day, it’s easy to forget how tough the early days of medicine were. Even as the scientific method informed the development of new drugs, techniques, and tools, there were plenty of quacks looking to cash in and few avenues to hold them to account. And there were mistakes. Lots of mistakes. For many patients, the cure was often as harrowing as the disease.

So check out these disturbing vintage photos below and be thankful that you’re living in the 21st century.

1. Patients at mental institutions were restrained with wet blankets.

2. Protective gear for a radiology nurse, circa 1918.

3. Tanning babies at the Chicago Orphan Asylum to offset winter rickets in 1925.

4. Dr. Lewis Sayre treating scoliosis, checking the curvature of the spine.

5. Dr. Clark’s Spinal Apparatus, circa 1878, one of the more bizarre and least practical treatments for scoliosis.

6. Physiotherapy used to be hands-off, seen here at Walter Reed circa 1920.

7. Surgery wasn’t always performed under an aesthesia; this poor lad is having surgery on his leg in 1855.

8. Somewhere between a gurney and a wheelchair, an “invalid rolling cart” circa 1915.

9. Woman with an artificial leg, too embarrassed to show her face, c. 1890s.

10. Stacking up polio sufferers in a multi-person iron lung, circa 1950.

11. This is what a neurological exam looked like in 1884.

12. A selection of some of the items used to disguise facial injury, during the early development of plastic surgery.



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