Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on July 18, 1976 · Page 134
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July 18, 1976

Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 134

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Charleston, West Virginia
Issue Date:
Sunday, July 18, 1976
Page:
Page 134
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Page 134 article text (OCR)

iP Advances by Donald Robinson A 52-year-old attorney walked out of Barnes Hospital in St Louis recently with his face aglow. He'd been completely blind for 15 years. Now he-could see perfectly! He was so thrilled that he and his wife drove around the city every day for two weeks just so he could feast his eyes on all the new buildings. The lawyer's vision was restored by a remarkable new form of microsurgery that promises to help blind victims of diabetes to see again. The American Hospital Association describes the procedure as "one of the great new advances in hospital care." The AHA has conducted a nationwide survey of medical advances, and its president, J. Alexander McMahon, stated: "We found American hospitals are'doing things for patients we didn't dream were possible a few years ago." Here are the 10 most significant advances: 1. NEW SIGHT FOR THE BUND. The largest single cause of blindness in the United States today is diabetes. Each year as many as 5000 men and women go blind because of a condition called diabetic retinopathy, in which old clotted blood in the eye evolves into fatty, fibrous tissues that "black out" the retina. Until lately, these people had no hope of ever seeing again. Then a brilliant ophthalmologic surgeon, Dr. Robert Macnemer of the University of Miami Hospitals in Florida, pioneered a technique for safely extracting the fibrous material from inside diabetic eyes. Two other ophthalmologic surgeons, Dr. Nicholas Douvas of Port Huron Hospital in Michigan and Dr. Edward Okun of Barnes Hospital, modified and improved the procedure. Peering through a special operating microscope, they insert an infinitesimally tiny instrument into the eye. The instrument sucks the ugly fibers into a microscopically small : hole where a roto-cutter chops them : into fine pieces that are expelled by the suction. Light can reach the retina once . more and the patient can see. More than 2000 persons have undergone this operation in 100 hospitals \ .^^^^^^^·IMl^^^^^^HHM^^^^ Dr. Edward Okun of St. Louis with a microscope and tiny instruments deans the eyes of a patient made blind by diabetes. The technique has been used 2000 times. throughout the country with a success rate of more than 60 percent. The reactions of the formerly blind patients and their families are poignant. Not long ago, a 30-year-old man who had been totally blind for three years received his sight back from Dr. Okun. He'd gotten married while blind to a woman he'd never seen. She was nervous as to what he'd think of her. When Dr. Okun took off his bandages, the patient smiled. "Not bad," he said. 2. AN ARTIFICIAL WRIST. A new kind of artificial wrist has been developed at Arizona Medical Center in Tucson for people whose wrists have been helplessly contorted by rheumatoid arthritis, other crippling diseases, or injuries. They can do things they haven't been able to do for many years: for example, zipping zippers, buttoning buttons, turning doorknobs. They can lift heavy objects. Best of all, their excruciating pain is relieved. The artificial wrist was designed by Dr. Robert Volz, orthopedic surgeon at Arizona Medical Center. It is a small plastic and metal mechanism comprising two interfitting parts that are inserted in the wrist within an inch-square space. Most other artificial wrists permit only unnatural and unstable motions. The Volz wrist provides both mobility and stability. The first man to receive the Volz wrist was William Hoag, a Tucson printer and part-time professional organist. He'd been compelled to give up his musical career after his right wrist had been maimed in a fall. Today, he is playing the organ again. 3. COUCHING TO KEEP YOUR HEART ALIVE It can happen at any time in any hospital. Suddenly, without warning, a patient's heart stops; this is termed cardiac arrest. In 11 seconds, the patient can lose consciousness. Death usually follows. If the condition is detected in time, an application of electricity directly to the patient's heart can often make it beat normally again. The problem is how to keep the patient alive during those crucial moments before the right equipment can be readied to treat him. Strenuously massaging the outside of the chest can frequently do this, but it can be dangerous. It can cause broken ribs and other complications. Fortunately, a better, safer technique--wonderful in its simplicity--has been developed by Dr. F. Mason Sones, the world-famous cardiologist at Cleveland (Ohio) Clinic. He just tells the patients to cough, forcefully and rhythmically. There'is a good chance the heart will start beating normally again. A team of cardiologists at the UCLA Harbor General Hospital in Torrance, Cal., tested the Sones technique on patients undergoing catheterization whose hearts had stopped. The team reported, in the journal of the American Medical Association that every one of these patients was saved. 4. TEST FOR DEAFNESS. Two scientists at the University of Chicago Medical School--Dr. Ralph F. Naunton, chief of otolaryngology, and Dr. Stanley Zerlin, a mechanically minded clinical psychologist--have solved one of the most difficult problems facing ear specialists: how to tell whether infants and young children are totally deaf. With standard

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