Monday, June 12, 2017

1910-1930: Early resuscitators were over-hyped

1916 ad for Lungmotor
One of the strongest criticisms of the early mechanical resuscitators, such as Bratt's Apparatus, Pulmotor, and Lungmotor, is that they were generally given credit for saving lives where credit was not due.  Basically, these devices were nothing more than money makers for manufacturers, and improved public relations for the companies that owned one.

For instance, note the following hints provided by the Lungmotor booklet:
HINTS ON CARE OF THE APPARENTLY DROWNED 1. Send for the doctor. 2. Promote warmth and circulation, friction toward the heart. (Daniels.) 3. Patient should be kept in bed and sleep encouraged. 4. Watch for secondary asphyxia. If this occurs proceed to restore the patient the second time. 5. If in house open the windows, let patient get fresh air. 6. Do not let people crowd around patient. 7. SEND FOR LUNGMOTOR. 8. Start Manual Methods until LUNGMOTOR arrives. 9. Do not move patient too much. 10. Do not allow patient to walk after resuscitation for twenty minutes at least. 11. Keep patient warm as possible. (1, page 19)
1914 demonstration of Lungmotor (From
I don't know about you, but this seems rather lapse.  If you can get a "drowning" patient to a bed, and spend time being concerned about the air in the room and whether there are people around, then the victim is truly no as critical as might be implied here.

The most stunning suggestion here might be #10:   Do not allow patient to walk after resuscitation for twenty minutes at least.

As any person knows who has participated in a respiratory or cardiopulmonary arrest, the person does not simply get up and desire to start walking around. Chances are, the patients these devices worked on were still breathing, still had a heart beat, and were simply stunned by being under water. Chances are they would have been just fine with or withouthe Lungmotor.  


  1. "Drowning: Historical-Statistical Methods of Resuscitation," no author nor editor listed, Published by Lungmotor Company, Boston, Massachusetts, 1920

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