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Great Achievements in Medical Fraud

April 20, 2017

If you were diagnosed at the turn of the century with lumbago, puking fever, black vomit, consumption, decrepitude, falling sickness, milk leg, ship fever, softening of the brain, St. Vitas dance, trench mouth, dropsy or heaven forbid, dyscrasy then chances are you were in big trouble. Not only did the “modern” medical community misunderstand most of these diseases, they were also clueless as to how to treat them.

To the Rescue

Facing a life of interminable pain and suffering, many sufferers of these diseases resorted to hundreds of unfounded medical treatments – sometimes they worked and sometimes they didn’t. Here’s a brief list of some of the more popular medical treatments and the claims by their originators:

  • The Magnetic Mug – Magnetic forces have long been used to cure everything from fatigue to lower back pain. A Colorado firm stated in their 1998 catalogue of products that their Magnetic Mug stores material between the stainless steel exterior and porcelain interior that magnetizes any beverage contained in it. By magnetizing the liquid, space is created between the beverage’s molecules, adding alkalinity to it. The alkalinity in beverages was refuted to facilitate absorption, minimizing dehydration and flushing out body toxins.
  • The Battle Creek Vibratory Chair – Many people who enjoy a bowl of Corn Flakes in the morning are familiar with their inventor, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg of Battle Creek, Michigan. Dr. Kellogg also designed a number of therapeutic devices, including The Battle Creek Vibratory Chair. After strapping the patient into the chair, it would shake violently and “stimulate intestinal peristalsis” that was beneficial to digestive disorders. Prolonged treatments were also used to cure a variety of maladies from headaches to back pain.
  • The Toftness Radiation Detector – If the Toftness Radiation Detector looks suspiciously like the PVC piping and couplings you bought last summer at the Home Depot, it’s because it is. By passing PVC tubing outfitted with inexpensive lenses over the patient’s back, Chiropractors listened for a high-pitched “squeak” that meant that the device had detected areas of neurological stress, characterized by high levels of radiation. The device was widely used until 1984 when it was deemed worthless by the Food and Drug Administration.
  • The Foot Operated Breast Enlarger – In the mid-1970’s, silicone breast implants were still in their infancy so, many women pining for larger breasts spent $9.95 for a foot-operated, vacuum pump and a series of cups that promised “larger, firmer and more shapely breasts in only 8 weeks”. As it turned out, over 4 million women were duped into buying a device that produced nothing more than bruising – even if they bought the entire kit that included a 1-ounce bottle of “Cleavage 6 Breast Enhancement” capsules.
  • The Crystaldyne Pain Reliever – One of the most popular pain relievers on the market in 1996 was nothing more than a gas grill igniter. When the sufferer pushed on the plunger, the device sent a short burst of sparks and electric shocks through the skin to cure headaches, stress, arthritis, menstrual cramps, earaches, flu and nosebleeds. After being subjected to FDA regulations for medical equipment, the company disappeared with thousands of dollars, telling their consumers that “their device was in the mail”.
  • The Prostrate Gland Warmer and The Recto Rotor – Even someone without the slightest imagination would cringe at the idea of inserting a 4 and a half inch probe into their rectum while connected to a blue light bulb and a 9-foot electrical cord. However, for thousands of adventurous consumers the gland warmer and recto rotor (that’s not rooter) promised the latest in quick relief from prostate problems, constipation and the piles.
  • The Radium Ore Revigator – In 1925, thousand of unknowing consumers plunked down their hard-earned cash for a clay jar whose walls were impregnated with low-grade, radioactive ore. With no more radioactive material than that found on the dial of an inexpensive wristwatch, the Revigator promised to invigorate “tired” or “wilted” water – “…the cause of illness in one hundred and nine million out of the hundred and ten million people of the United States”.
  • The Relaxacisor – For anyone who hated to exercise but still wanted a lithe, athletic body, the Relaxacisor was the answer. Produced in the early 1970’s, the Relaxacisor came with four adhesive pads that were applied to the body and connected by electrodes to a control panel. The device would deliver a series of electrical jolts to the body, taking the place of regular exercise – while reclining on a sofa. All 400,000 devices were recalled for putting the consumer at risk for miscarriages, hernias, ulcers varicose veins, epilepsy and exacerbating pre-existing medical conditions.
  • The Timely Warning – In 1888, one of the most embarrassing and debilitating experiences a man could endure was an “amorous dream” or “night emission”. Fortunately, Dr. E.B. Foote came up with the “Timely Warning”, a circular, aluminum ring that was worn to prevent “…the loss of the most vital fluids of the system – those secreted by the testicular glands…”. For better or for worse, no diagrams have been found to support exactly how the device was worn.
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    All Entries Family Health Home Life Humor Medicine Technology

    The Adrian X-ray Shoe Fitting Machine

    April 20, 2017

    During the 1940s, people were concerned about their feet. Mothers, fathers – even the U.S. Army. As a result, the guardian of modern foot care was born – the “Adrian X-ray Shoe Fitting Machine.”

    A Star is Born

    Although there are a number of conflicting stories about its origin, the first x-ray shoe fitting machine has generally been attributed to Dr. Jacob Lowe, a Boston physician who was looking for a fast and efficient way to analyze soldiers’ feet during World War I. Dr. Lowe was concerned with the number of poorly fitting boots worn by military recruits and was interested in a way to cut down on their foot-related injuries.  In addition to providing the good doctor with a superior view of the foot, the x-ray shoe fitting machine allowed Dr. Lowe to speed up production by not requiring soldiers to remove their boots.

    The x-ray shoe fitting machine was a simple design. A fluoroscope was mounted on the base of a wooden platform and sent x-rays upward toward a florescent screen. The client would place their foot between the two and the image would be directed up to a reflector, where three viewing scopes displayed the foot’s image to the customer. The entire area was sealed within a lead-shielded area for protection of the client. Unlike x-rays that are captured on film, the machine displayed a real time image of the client’s foot – shoes and all. read more

    All Entries Business and Work Entertainment and Show Business Humor Technology

    Foley Secrets

    April 20, 2017

    The scene in the Hollywood movie is a leather-jacketed hero who scuffles with a bad guy, walks through the snow and then guns his motorcycle engine before zooming off into the night. But, what really happened was the actor’s double punched a roasted chicken with a rubber kitchen glove and squeezed two balloons together while walking on a sandbox filled with cornstarch. That’s showbiz…

    Things Are Not What They Seem

    For most of us, the sounds of a movie are as entertaining as the visual experiences. But, unbeknownst to most viewers, the lion share of sounds and special effects are not captured at the time of filming. Instead, they’re either recorded in the studio by highly imaginative technicians called “Foley Artists” or pulled from a library of pre-recorded sound bites that are stored on computers until the sound is mixed for the movie.

    The term Foley Artist began as early as 1927 when Al Jolson’s movie, “The Jazz Singer” became the first “talkie.” In those days, the dialogue of the actors superseded virtually all other sound or music recorded for the film. It wasn’t until the early 1950s that movie studios discovered they could enhance the overall quality of the movie goer’s experience by adding specialized sounds that were purposely stripped away during filming in favor of an actor’s spoken lines. read more

    All Entries Fashion Humor Leisure and Sports Technology

    Space-aged, High Capacity Sports Bras

    October 18, 2016

    While rummaging through my old junk drawer, I came across one of my prize possessions: a ballpoint pen that writes upside down and was endorsed by NASA. In 1965, it was the must-have accessory of the times. Not only could you use it to write letters while lying in bed, you could draft a note in zero gravity, on greasy paper in a wide variety of temperatures – all while submerged underwater.

    For the life of me, I can’t think of a single instance when I’ve cursed to myself, “Dang, I wish I had a pen that wrote upside down, underwater and on greasy paper.” But, it probably would come in handy if I was ever buried alive in a coffin or needed to scribble a note to my editor explaining that this week’s column would be late because I just drove off a bridge and was presently lying underwater at the bottom of a lake.

    Since that time, clever marketing pros have come up with thousands of ways to enrich the quality of every day products. In 1974, the suave actor Ricardo Montalban became famous by pitching the 1974 Chrysler Cordoba with soft, Corinthian leather. It’s a mystery how the tiny Greek city got caught up in supplying upholstery to over-priced, American sedans, when if fact, the seats were actually covered with American cowhide and vinyl products from a plant outside of Newark, New Jersey. But, it worked. read more

    Communication Humor Technology

    Great Moments in Digital History

    August 18, 2016

    If you’ve ever run a marathon, then you’re probably familiar with how the grueling 26.2 mile event originated. According to myth, the race was originated by the Greek messenger, Pheidippides, the early version of FedEx. Dispatched from the front lines at the Battle of Marathon, Pheidippides ran non-stop to Athens, bursting into the assembly exclaiming, “Nenikékamen,” or, “We have won” before collapsing and dying. Why didn’t he just send a tweet?

    The answer, of course, is that while he could have faxed or emailed the message to Athens, Twitter wasn’t invented until hundreds of years later. If he had tweeted the message and skipped the run, chances are there wouldn’t have been a Boston Marathon, the running craze of the 1970s, running sneakers or those cute little shorts we enjoy seeing on each others’ heinies. Thousands of middle-aged, overweight couch potatoes would be even more middle-aged and overweight. There wouldn’t have been much demand for sports bras and heaven forbid… there probably wouldn’t be any Lycra. read more

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