We were delighted to discover the online site for the Museum of Questionable Medical Devices, now collected and housed in the Science Museum of Minnesota.
The site itself is a little bit of history, most pages not having been updated for over five years. But each device is extensively cross-linked to other resources and news stories. You could spend hours researching some of these poorly-thought-out machines, from the age before Evidence-Based Medicine.
Consider the McGregor Rejuvenator:
In a patent filed in 1932, Mr. M.E. Montrude Jr. of Seattle, Washington claimed that by the use of magnetism, radio waves, infra-red and ultra-violet rays he could reverse the aging process. The patient was rolled for treatment on a cart into a machine with only the head outside the chamber. The chamber does look a bit like an iron lung but the similarity ends there.
Magnetism was allegedly conveyed to the patient throughout the red chamber. Radio waves were said to be transmitted via two leather pads located near the front of the chamber. Inside, the top of the chamber holds fixtures holding red incandescent and blue ultra-violet light bulbs. The concentration of light bulbs quickly heats the chamber. Left, front view of Rejuvenator. Leather pads sit atop the blue-striped cushion. Five McGregor Rejuvenators were placed in a Bekins warehouse in Seattle some 40 years ago, and the inventor never returned to claim them. They were finally auctioned off after 30 years and bought by Mr. Ed Fitzgerald of Wilson Creek, Washington who scrapped three of them and provided The Museum of Questionable Medical Devices with the best remaining example.
If Medgadget.com had existed in 1971, it probably would have a post containing this press release on the Relaxacisor (and, without question, we would have included the photo at right):
The Food and Drug Administration warned today that the sale of second-hand relaxacisors is illegal.
The warning stemmed from reports that owners of the electrical devices are attempting to dispose of them by offering them for sale in classified advertisements.
The devices provide electrical shocks to the body through contact pads. They were declared dangerous to health in a California court ruling last April against Relaxacisor, Inc., the distributor.
In his decision, Judge William P. Gray said the devices could cause miscarriages and could aggravate many pre-exisiting medical conditions, including hernia, ulcers, varicose veins and epilepsy.
More than 400,000 units have been sold for exercise and reducing… The agency recommended that owners of the device either destroy them or render them inoperable to avoid any possibility of harm to unsuspecting users.
We take comfort that such devices are confined to a museum, and that we live in an era where questionable medical devices, with pseudo-scientific mechanisms and nonexistent supporting data, cannot coexist with our skeptical, educated public.
More devices from The Collection…
Have a great weekend!