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Health & Safety

Fraudulent Medical Gadgets

Fraudulent Medical Gadgets

Throughout history, the medical community has developed and promoted devices that claim to provide cures, treatments and enhancements for various conditions and illnesses. Many of these devices are fraudulent in nature, never coming close to curing any kind of ailment. One said device was the vibrating chair, built by the Kellogg brothers in nineteen hundred. They claimed the chair would provide stimulation to the intestines to help in digestion and regularity. The "patient" would sit in the chair as it shook violently, and often painfully, with no effect except causing back and joint pain and costing money to use. The chair is on loan to the Museum of Quackery from the St Louis Science Center. The museum itself is run by Bob McCoy, who has published a book entitled " Quack: Tales of Medical Fraud from the Museum of Questionable Medical Devices."

A foot operated breast enlargement pump was purchased by millions of American women in the nineteen seventies and did little more than bruise the breasts. A small suction-like apparatus was placed on the breast and with the use of a foot-powered pump, similar to that of an air mattress pump today, would apply pressure to make the breasts enlarge. Even today around the internet, women are still targeted to use and employ faulty breast enlargement devices and exercises that do little more than exercise the muscles that support the breasts and provide no improvement in size.

Bob McCoy leads the pack in bringing these devices to the public eye, with a large set of fraudulent devices on display in his museum. One extremely interesting device is the psychograph–a device that was supposed to use phrenology to determine ailments and mental capacities in humans. The device had "probes" that would measure the parts of the skull and interpret the mapping of it into a statement of numbers. These numbers would be interpreted to give the patient the results of the test, which would supposedly give them information about their mental faculties. Thirty-three of these machines were manufactured and leased all over Minnesota. The company closed down in the nineteen-thirties due to the rejection of phrenology as a science.

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