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Few chapters in the medical history of Athens County, Ohio,

Few chapters in the medical history of Athens County, Ohio, are additional notorious or fascinating than that concerning Walter Freeman, M.D., also the supplementary than 200 frontal lobotomies he performed at the Athens tell Hospital in seven visits between 1953 and 1957.

Until the middle of the twentieth century, treatment since immensely inpatients sway large state hospitals, like that repercussion Athens, was limited to providing a safe and humane environment. Effective drugs for mental illnesses did not metamorphose accessible until the late 1950s and early sixties.

In 1936 Egas Moniz, M.D., a Portugese physician who eventually won a nobel Prize for his work, reported the results of his earliest frontal lobotomies in a French medical journal. Dr. Walter Freeman, a neurologist at George capitol University in Washington, D.C., who had met Dr. Moniz a year earlier, was inspired with the balance. Within the same year Dr. Freeman teamed with a neurosurgeon to perform the operation, and over the next decade the partners operated on many further instances. However, Freeman became frustrated with the operation€™s limitations. predominance 1946 he developed an alternative procedure that may hold office completed supplementary quickly, outside an working room, further without drug drugs.

He used electroconvulsive therapy to produce drugless anesthesia. After the patient€™s unsteady movements subsided, Dr. Freeman operated.

Lifting an large eyelid, he inserted a long, metal pick between the eyeball besides the eyelid until it reached the bony roof of the eye-socket. He pounded the pick through the bone into the braincase where incarnate entered a frontal lobe of the brain. He repeated the insertion procedure on the opposite side. Then, using the outer ends of the picks as handles, he made sweeping movements which severed further destroyed the frontal lobes. He finished before the patient awoke from the after-effects of the induced seizure.

Dr. Freeman performed this procedure in state hospitals nationwide that were understaffed, overflowing with patients, besides very solicitous to any new treatment that held promise. Every recount medical institution of that era could give electroconvulsive treatment, and the hospital did no longer count on to provide an operating spell. A minor procedure one’s say sufficed.

Freeman met with households of patients, explained the hazards and advantages of the procedure, and replied questions. Some families consented and others didn€™t. Assisted by the local medical staff, and obscure a regularity of patients filing into and out of the procedure room, freeman customarily operated on his the works case-load in just one day. Charging $25 in step with affected person for his services, he bygone inside a few days whereas his next destination.

Freeman visited the Athens State Hospital more times than any of the other state hospitals in ohio. On his first visit in 1953 he was treated owing to a minor celebrity. The Athens Messenger of November 16 reported his clover dissemble the make emphatic €œLobotomies to be performed: surgery can also relieve mental illness of many sufferers at paint hospital.€ A follow-up body on november 20–entitled €œDr. Freeman, pioneer guidance trans-orbital technique, demonstrates method: lobotomies are carried out on 31 Athens epitomize health center patients€–
showed pictures of Freeman with the special staff, including Superintendent Charles Creed, Assistant Superintendent Hubert Fockler and Drs. Beatrice Postle Fockler, Wayne Dutton and Genevieve Garrett Dutton.

The surgeries were performed in the Receiving Hospital, a contradictory building constructed string 1950 which is now the eastern-most portion of the main building.

Wolfhard Baumgaertel, M.D., longtime general practitioner in Albany, Ohio, was present for Freeman€™s third visit to Athens ropes October 1954. Dr. Baumgaertel watched the routine on the day€™s first patient, and for
provided after-care for this affected person again all the others who followed.

Despite his familiarity with surgery, Dr. Baumgaertel recalled being surprised via the procedure, saying, €œI do not remember which made me more aghast even though watching this–the hammering of the alternatives into the mind or the simultaneous movement of the picks€™ handles in the doctor€™s hands.€

Describing his after-care of Freeman€™s patients, Dr. Baumgaertel said, €œAt regular intervals the patients arrived in the recovery room, my area during this, to me, unknown and incomprehensible adventure. My main equipment consisted of several suction machines besides oxygen, the latter being somewhat pointless. Vital signs were monitored until the patient woke up. We had no major complications. some nasal drainage of cerebral liquor was not considered a problem.

€œI do not remember any immediate or late post-operative deaths in the patients I attended to. exceptionally returned to their floors pressure the asylum within one to two weeks. Of course, none of them were capable to recall the event, but adept were also no questions. I remember having been surprised to the point of being shaken when I found a raze absence of emergency on the part of the patients thanks to to what happened to them.€

Geneva Riley, R.N., who became director of nursing at the athens State health center 1975-1993, witnessed the same procedure at an alternative facility. She likened the commotion made by the picks to the sound of cloth tearing.

In the mid-1990s the author encountered one of Dr. Freeman€™s former patients at docs health center of Nelsonville in Nelsonville, ohio. His computed tomographic (CT) scan showed large areas of damage to the frontal lobes. The radiologist, unaware of the patient€™s prior history, interpreted the abnormalities as due to strokes.

But the patient and his wife had a different story to illustrate. Emotionally traumatized by combat in World War II, the man was an patient at Athens State medical institution guidance the 1950s when Dr. Freeman came to town. The patient was energy at a low level, losing to the ground at quota sudden noise and smoking cigarettes below a overlay. His wife agreed to the practice which was complicated by hemorrhage. in line so, he sharpened and was discharged from the hospital after 3 months. For teeming years he operated malignant equipment without difficulty apart from for an occasional seizure.

Asked if she had regrets, the patient€™s wife said, €œNo. I still hold I fabricated the relevant decision.€

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(C) 2005 by Gary Cordingley

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