Medical and Health Issues in 1912

posted in: 1912, Medical and Health | 0

Today we’re used to going to the doctor or hospital for medical maladies.

A hundred years ago life was very different. Babies were still born at home and doctors still made house calls. Residents in larger cities were more likely to go to the hospital than in more rural areas.

States were just beginning to issue birth and death certificates.

The elderly lived at homes with their family. The family cared for them as they grew older and usually they died at home in their beds.

When a person passed away the casket was kept in the living room. I have a cousin who remembers seeing her grandmother’s casket in the living room in the 1960s. During this time burial often occurred the day of or day after death.

Doctors still made house calls. Doctors did not have a large office the way they did today unless they were in a big city.

My great-great grandfather died in 1903. His appendix burst and the doctor performed the surgery right there on the kitchen table {where he died from the surgery}. Conditions were very crude and nowhere near as sterile as today.

If a family member had a mental illness you either kept them at home or sent them to the state hospital. This includes diseases we have a better understanding of today, such as Alzheimer’s. I had a great-aunt suffering from Alzheimer’s that was sent to the State Hospital after she chased her husband down the street with an axe.

Also, people did not have the availability to medicine, vitamins and health information we have today.

I did a search to see what I could find about illnesses in 1912. Following is a sampling of that information:

Mid-Late April The Mexican Federal Army is ravaged by typhoid

December 7 The Journal of the American Medical Association reported the first diagnosis of death by heart attack

1912 A severe sleeping sickness epidemic that has been ravaging the Congo since 1895 finally abates

1912 Plague outbreak in Nairobi and in the Kilimanjaro area

1912 The US Public Health Service is formed when Congress
reorganizes the Marine Hospital Service and gives it expanded duties

1912 The Institute for Tropical Medicine is established in Puerto Rico

1912 Herrick first describes heart disease resulting from hardening of the arteries

1912 McCollum and Davis discover what will later be called vitamin A (or Osborne and Mendel in 1913)

1912 Plague outbreak in Ecuador – the US sends a medical commission

1912 Phenobarbital is introduced, and is found to effective against epileptic seizures

1912 British aviator Desoutter makes the first aluminum prosthesis to replace his leg, lost in an air crash

1912 In a virtuoso performance, undertaker Crandall successfully restores the facial features of a corpse whose head had been crushed between two trains

1912 Wertheimer publishes the paper that becomes the basis of Gestalt psychology

1912 Jung publishes The Psychology of the Unconscious, and begins to break with Freud

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