ByJancy Richardson, writer at
To avoid fainting, keep repeating 'It's only a movie...It's only a movie...'
Jancy Richardson

If there's one issue that time travel movies gloss over it's DO NOT GET SICK IN THE PAST. Just... don't. Rabies, the Bubonic Plague, mass outbreaks of dysentry... and the cures were often just as bad.

Check out 7 bizarre medical curiosities that prove that the past was dark and full of terrors...

1. Got Plague? I can fix that!

Date: 1600's

Purpose: Protecting its wearer from the plague. These plague masks were kind of an early gas mask - the long beak was stuffed with lavender or somesuch to shield the nose from the stench of vile plague effluent.

2. Got Scoliosis? I can fix that!

Date: 1800's

Purpose: Treatment of scoliosis. Dr Lewis Sayre (pictured) was actually a highly celebrated surgeon of his day, who helped pioneer hip replacement surgery among other things. However, the poor woman in this photo looks as though she's been strung up for a public flogging.

3. Doing a spot of Radiology? Great!

Date: 1918

Purpose: Radiology Nurse Technician dress for the French in WW1.

4. Totally insane? I can fix that!

Date: Late 19th Century

Purpose: to cure insanity, apparently. Patients were bound tightly in wet sheets and laid out in rows with their eyes covered. I'm not sure what this was actually supposed to do except keep patients from escaping.

5. Spinal problems? I can fix that!

Date: 1878

Purpose: Spinal Correction. Obviously, doctors did their best to help their patients with the means at their disposal.... but pity the poor child screwed into this rickety spine chariot.

6. Got Polio? I can fix that!

Date: 1937

Purpose: In the days before vaccination, thousands of children were permanently weakened or killed by the disease. This rather claustrophobic contraption is actually a multi-storey iron lung, which children were kept in - sometimes for months on end - to assist their breathing.

7. Giving Birth? I can totally help!

Date: 1700s

Purpose: The dramatically named 'Obstetric Phantom' was invented to give medical students a vague idea of what childbirth was like albeit with rather less blood and screaming. It looks creepily similar to an item one may encounter in one of the more disreputable shops downtown, or so I've heard...

If you enjoyed - well, that may not be the right word! - seeing these morbid and macabre relics of our medical past, be sure to check out more freaky historical implements and procedures here and here.

Sources: Caveman Circus, Ebaum's World, Seriously For Real, Viralnova


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