Terrifying Medical Instruments And Treatment: 50+ Horrible Photos Depicting Treatment Methods From The Past

With modern medicine and medical equipment miracles, we can transplant an organ, and the patient doesn’t feel anything during the procedure. However, this was not possible before; for some patients, the cure was often as harrowing as the disease. Even when the development of new drugs and the early days of surges and operations, they were not as effective and painless as they are now. The treatment was expensive, and patients were not treated properly; some diseases were incurable, and the patients suffered until death. These photographs depict the horrible procedures of treatment, terrifying medical instruments, and haunting conditions of hospitals from the past.

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

#2 A physician adjusts the beam path of the 2,000,000 volt Deep Therapy X-Ray Machine used to treat cancer at the Francis Delafield Hospital in New York City.

#3 Mental patients participating in Dance Therapy in New York State Asylum, U.S in 1922.

#4 Psychograph, a phrenology machine to measure the shape of head from the early 20th century.

Psychograph, a phrenology machine to measure the shape of head from the early 20th century.

The machine consisted of 1,954 parts in a metal carrier with a continuous motor-driven belt inside a walnut cabinet containing statements about 32 mental faculties. These faculties were each rated 1 through 5, "deficient" to "very superior," so that there were 160 possible statements but an almost unlimited number of possible combinations. The "score" was determined by the way the 32 probes, each with five contact points in the headpiece, made contact with the head. The subject sat in a chair connected to the machine and the headpiece was lowered and adjusted. The operator then pulled back a lever that activated the belt-driven motor, which then received low-voltage signals from the headpiece and stamped out the appropriate statement for each faculty consecutively.

#5 This is how the brainwaves were measured in the 1940s.

#6 Bergonic chair for giving general electric treatment for psychological effect, in psycho-neurotic cases, 1910s.

#7 Women receiving radium therapy in the Serbian Psychiatric Hospital in Serbia in 1907.

#8 Lewis Sayre treating scoliosis, checking the curvature of the spine.

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

#10 This is how tooth extraction was done.

This is how tooth extraction was done.

If you think going to the dentist today is scary, imagine a guy with a bloody apron approaching you with a pair of forceps, a pen knife, and no anesthesia. The early days of dentistry were beleaguered by a lack of knowledge and a belief that before anything could get better, blood had to flow.

#11 The latest X-ray apparatus being operated by an radiologist wearing the old-type protectors which are no longer necessary with modern apparatus. Radiological exhibition. Central Hall. Westminster, 1934.

#12 A portable respirator, or iron lung, designed to enable patients to recuperate at home, 1955.

#13 Dr G. H. Byford stands under an optokinetic drum wearing a contact lens with a miniature lamp cemented to the lens, during an experiment to investigate the reflex movements of the eyes and their association with visual illusions, at the RAF Institute of Aviation Medicine in Farnborough, 1960s.

#14 Roentgen steed, designed to hold children as they sit for chest X-rays, 1957.

#15 This old man is sitting in a machine that is used to stimulate blood circulation in the legs.

#16 Electro-retinogram: apparatus devised to measure the electric potential of the retina.

#17 A woman inside an Electric Bath at the Light Care Institute 1900s.

#18 A woman wearing a flu mask during the flu epidemic after the First World War.

#19 A “Lunatics Chair” given to patients who had poor behavior or wild outbursts in a Dutch mental hospital in 1938.

#20 Patients wrapped in large wet towels with wet cloths on their heads for hydrotherapy (continuous showers, baths and being wet) in St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington, D.C. in 1886.

#21 Mechanical slapping massage device at BC sanitarium.

#22 Forgotten patients were left to sit around in corridors at the US hospital, 1940s

#23 A man constrained in a straight jacket stands alone.

#24 X-ray machine which circles head to take panoramic picture of teeth, eliminating usual mouthful of film, 1960.

#25 Dr. Leonid Rogozov who cut out his appendix because he was the only physician on station.

Dr. Leonid Rogozov who cut out his appendix because he was the only physician on station.

He diagnosed himself with acute appendicitis but being the only surgeon on the team, he had no help. He made a 12 cm cut through which he found the appendix. After 5 days the doctor felt good, and after 7 days he removed the wires which had been used to sew up the body. His name: Leonid Rogozov.

#26 Tanning babies at the Chicago Orphan Asylum to offset winter rickets in 1925

#27 High frequency electric currents in medicine and dentistry from the early 20th century.

High frequency electric currents in medicine and dentistry from the early 20th century.

Although the use of electricity to treat physical ailments could be seen to stretch back to the when the ancient Greeks first used live electric fish to numb the body in pain, it wasn’t until the 18th and 19th centuries – through the work of Luigi Galvani and Guillaume Duchenne – that the idea really took hold. Monell claims that his high frequency currents of electricity could treat a variety of ailments, including acne, lesions, insomnia, abnormal blood pressure, depression, and hysteria.

#28 Patients at mental institutions were restrained with wet blankets.

#29 Protective gear for a radiology nurse, circa 1918.

#30 Physiotherapy used to be hands-off, seen here at Walter Reed, 1920.

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

#32 Somewhere between a gurney and a wheelchair, an “invalid rolling cart”, 1915

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

#34 This is what a neurological exam looked like in 1884.

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

#36 #20 A wire suit designed to measure body temperatures while researching the physiological effects of high speed and space travel, 1960

#37 A rotating cobalt machine swinging around the body of a patient, attacking cancerous tumors, 1955.

#38 Large-sized eye models, moved by two small motors, developed by aero medical researchers.

#39 Winston Churchill’s personal pressure chamber, created to enable him to make high-altitude flights safely.

#40 Three plastic humanoid shells, filled with sodium chloride solution, used for measuring radioactivity.

#41 Los Alamos chemist, Wright H. Langham with Plastic Man, used to simulate human radiation exposures, 1959.

#42 The first electrocardiograph, introduced by Cambridge Scientific Instruments.

#43 Children around a radiating glow of ultraviolet light at the Institute of Ray Therapy.

#44 Cobalt “bomb” treatment of a patient at a Paris clinic.

#45 A patient in a restraining chair at the West Riding Lunatic Asylum in Wakefield, Yorkshire, England in 1869.

#46 A nurse prepares a patient for electro-shock therapy in Central State Hospital in Kentucky, US in 1951.

#47 A woman is restrained in an Asylum in France in 1900.

#48 Two doctors show off the large electro-shock machine at St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington, D.C. in 1923.

#49 A patient undergoing lateral cerebral diathermia treatment in the early 1920’s. Diathermia used a galvanized current to jolt psychosis sufferers. Doctors eventually deemed it unsafe and unreliable.

#50 A female patient suffering from withdrawal buries her head in her hands.

#51 Two men stare out of the windows in a stark hospital ward.

#52 Health cure in the Institut Finsen, Copenhagen, Denmark.

#53 A woman inspects an Electric Bath at the Light Care Institute. The Electric Bath is probably a forerunner of the modern sunbed, although it was more likely used for medicinal reasons, circa 1900.

#55 Partially dissected cadavers on tables in the dissecting room at the Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, PA, circa 1902.

#56 A Wiener Ambulance with patients in ‘layers’ in a horse drawn wooden carriage. The sides are partly open, but have curtains. The ambulance men are members of the Viennese Voluntary Rescue Society founded in 1881.

#57 Dr. Elizabeth Bruyn sits in the rear of her horse drawn ambulance in the United States, circa 1911.

#58 A doctor wears protective clothing during an outbreak of plague in Manchuria, circa 1912.

#59 R. Dubois anesthetizing machine in France, circa 1913.

#60 A chest X-ray in progress at Dr. Maxime Menard’s radiology department at the Cochin hospital in Paris, circa 1914. Mendard would later lose his finger to side effects from operating the X-ray machine.

#61 Women operate the new stretching machine for surgical dressing at the Red Cross headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio, circa 1915.

#62 The new ‘hip massage machine’ from the United States, circa 1928.

#63 The modern Roentgen ‘look through’ machine, which prevents any injury to the treating physician, Frankfurt, Germany, circa 1929.

#64 A woman using an electric inhaling apparatus which produces a medicated fog used in the treatment of colds and influenza, circa 1929.

#65 Patients at a hospital in Germany inhaling powdered medicines such as menthol and eucalyptus to heal respiratory diseases, circa 1930.

#66 Wearing only a towel and dark goggles a man enjoys the benefits of a sun-ray lamp, circa 1930.

#67 Members of the Arsenal Football team have sunlight treatment, 1931.

#68 Post Office Department Inspector DF Angier (left) and Dr. LF Kebler, formerly of the Food and Drug Administration, try out a stretching device which claimed to increase height by 2 to 6 inches, 1931.

#69 Lieutenant Radtke presses air into his lungs at a constant height with a mercury column, while the doctor checks his blood pressure, circa 1932.

#70 A nurse handing a towel to a woman on a sunbed, 1934.

#71 A young patient, Gerald Blackburn, in an oxygen tent at Princess Beatrice Hospital, circa 1937.

#72 A patient lying in an artificial respiration machine called an iron lung, circa 1938.

#73 A young woman holds her arms and legs in four water bathes with electric current, to improve blood circulation, circa 1938.

#74 Nurses practice operating a respiratory jacket that performs a similar function to an iron lung, circa 1938.

#75 In an effort to make childbirth as painless as possible, a patient inhales analgesia during labor whilst a nurse looks over her, July 1939.

#76 Administering oxygen to a newborn in Berlin, Germany, July 1939.

#77 Hydrotherapy was first used in the early 1900s. Immersion in a tub of water to make a patient relax when agitated or relieve some ailment would last a few hours to overnight, 1936.

Hydrotherapy was first used in the early 1900s. Immersion in a tub of water to make a patient relax when agitated or relieve some ailment would last a few hours to overnight, 1936.

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