Poliomyelitis, more commonly referred to as polio, is a viral infection that attacks the nerve cells.
Without immediate medical attention, the patient will likely suffer nerve injury and either partial or complete paralysis.
Polio of an epidemic proportion took place across North America and Europe in the early 1950s.
The peak number of infections in the United States reached 57,628 cases in 1952 alone.
In around one percent of conditions, the disease destroys the motor neurons in the motor cortex, spinal cord, and brain stem.
One of the worst symptoms of paralytic polio is breathing difficulty due to weakened or damaged chest muscles. In some cases, the damage is permanent.
Paul Alexander, a 76-year-old bankruptcy lawyer from Dallas, is a survivor of paralytic polio.
He contracted the disease in 1952 when he was six. Much of his life afterward is spent in an old-fashioned mechanical ventilator known as the “iron lung.”
Alexander still managed to attend his classes and earned a law degree from the University of Texas before practicing as a lawyer. He did all that despite being paralyzed from the neck down.
10 /10 Crude But Effective
The room where Paul Alexander spends most of his life has a strange-looking feature: a large metal cylinder, which appears like a small submarine at a glance.
It consists of a large tube, a moving arm, and a motor. The cylinder generates a humming noise and pulsates to help the person inside, Paul himself, breathe and stay alive.
The machine is a mechanical ventilator. Some say the design is crude but effective.
On one end, there is an airtight closure, and at the other, Alexander’s head is protruding outside. He is paralyzed from the neck down.
9 /10 An Iron Lung
Alexander is a bankruptcy lawyer. He earned his law degree from the University of Texas at Austin.
First-time clients visiting his home always seem bewildered by seeing him inside the metal tube.
Some cannot help but ask questions regarding his well-being and what kind of apparatus the cylindrical chamber is.
Alexander always says it is an “iron lung” and that he had polio as a child.
The iron lung is one of the earliest forms of the modern ventilator.
Negative pressure inside the chamber helps those who cannot breathe independently.