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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 90.djvu/431

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Curing Rheumatism with Radium

The latest means which European physicians are employ- ing in the treatment of the soldiers in the trenches

By the Paris Correspondent of the Popular Science Monthly

��RADIUM stores so much energy' in its atoms that a thirtieth of an ounce ■ has wrapped up in it about as much heat as a whole ton of good coal. That is one reason why radium is so puzzling. It is one of the heaviest solids we know — being many times heavier than iron. Yet it is continuously breaking up into an emanation which forms one of the lightest of gases. This emanation is even lighter than air. During the transformation, myriads of electrically charged particles are thrown off. The particles that make up the emana- tion are hurled from the radium at enor- mous speeds. Imagine, if you can, a stream of these particles as they are hurtling through space at a speed approaching eleven million miles an hour! Then try to picture what would happen should any- thing get in their way. If it were not for the fact that the particles are infinitesimally small, no sub- stance could withstand their bom- bardment for an instant. A it is, their impingement upon certain dense solids causes brilliant displays

The physician is shown placing the radium tube in the booth from which it shoots its emana- tions into the air

��Below: The electric static machine by means of which the patient is charged

���of light. Their impingement upon human tissues has a fundamental effect upon the life processes. Like X-rays, which the emanation contains in part, the rays of radium emanation have a curative effect upon certain skin affections. Their direct application in treating cancer, on the other hand, has been found under certain condi- tions to stimulate the action of the growth rather than the counter-action. But the use of the emanations, after they have once been emitted and consequently have lost some of their force, has been eminently successful in the milder forms of human ailments. Painful conditions brought about by rheumatism and gout, for instance, have been actually cured by applying the emanation internally. The gentler action throughout the system seems to stimulate the organs.

In Europe, radium emanations are em- ployed in treating soldiers who suffer from severe muscular rheu- matism because of the dank conditions in the trenches. The accom- panying illustrations show the type of ap- paratus that is used in the treatment of these cases. The pa- tient is placed on an insulated chair inside an air-tight booth, and is charged to a high potential by a small static electric machine. He is then supplied with a steady flow of air, which has passed over a quantity- of radium. The elec- trically charged emanation emitted from the radium dif- fuses through the air, and cer- tain of its rays are encountered by the patient, who draws them in with his breath. After reaching his lungs, they are almost entirjely absorbed by his system, when they begin to effect their cure. During the treatment, the physician keeps

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