In the last few hundred years, much progress has been made in the field of medicine. There have been many revolutionary discoveries that have changed and continue to change the face of medical treatment.
The discovery of anesthesia prevented terrible suffering and saved lives as, in the past, many chose to die rather than subject themselves to the pain of surgery without it. Medical imaging techniques, including X-rays, ultrasound, CAT Scans, and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) are now regularly used to diagnose life-threatening conditions. Antibiotics have saved millions of lives. The procedure of organ transplants is one that nobody would have even dreamed of years ago. Yet, there has been success transplanting kidneys, hearts, livers, lungs, and even a full face. Stem cell treatment has been successful in treating leukemia and other blood diseases. It is now being studied to see how it can impact spinal cord injuries and Alzheimer’s disease. Couples who in the past would have had to give up on ever having children have been greatly helped by in vitro fertilization. Artificial intelligence seems to be the way of the future in terms of detecting, diagnosing, and treating disease.
Some of today’s medical interventions, while quite advanced, are not always what one would expect. A while back, I woke up in the morning to a spinning room. I felt like I was on a never-ending nauseating carousel. My doctor was quick to diagnose me with vertigo and gave me some anti-nausea medication. In addition to that, she gave me a referral for physical therapy. Now that was pretty odd. Kind of like being sent to the zookeeper because I have a stomachache. What exactly did physical therapy have to do with my symptoms. But I was willing to try whatever she suggested to get the world to stop spinning around me. The physical therapist took a quick look at my eyes as I sat on the examining table and immediately could detect what my problem was. I suppose the whites of my eyes had the word “Dizzy” emblazoned on them. When he asked me if I had ever been through this treatment before, I knew I was in for a bumpy ride. Thankfully, he gave me the heads up that he was going to give me the heads down, and in one swift motion he forcefully pushed me down until I was lying on the table. Then he pushed my head to the left and then to the right in quick succession, similar to a one-two boxing punch. Then he laid me on my side. I believe that an outsider watching this scene without context would have most certainly called the police to report a violent assault on an innocent victim. When the therapist finished his treatment, he helped me sit up. Lo and behold, I felt great. The spinning had stopped. Go figure. Whatever he did, shockingly did the trick. It seems that one of the little crystals in my inner ear had been misbehaving and had escaped. This caused my eyes to quickly move back and forth in order to keep track of my surroundings that seemed to me to be moving, thus indicating my condition. The ferocious attack was the way to prod that crystal back to where it belonged. I went back for one follow-up appointment and that was the end of the story. Modern medicine at its best.
Of course, this article would not be complete without my mentioning some of the Israeli innovations in the medical field. Israel developed the Emergency Bandage that can stop traumatic hemorrhaging wounds, and can also be used as a tourniquet, or a sling. InSightec’s ExAblate OR developed MRI-guided, focused ultrasound to destroy tumors and cysts without surgery. In the interest of helping paraplegics to be more independent, Argo Medical Technologies created a robotic exoskeleton, which receives movement signals from a wristwatch to help the user stand upright, walk, and even climb stairs. It enabled paraplegic runners in London and Tel Aviv to complete marathons. There’s also the SniffPhone, the device that can smell disease, and the flexible stent, a tube-shaped device used to open up arteries to treat coronary heart disease and blockages, preventing the need for open-heart surgery.
We most certainly need to be grateful that we live in an era during which we have more medical knowledge and know-how, and consequently many more medical options at our disposal, enabling us to lead healthy and productive lives. Let’s hope that our researchers continue to make life-saving discoveries and that we all remain healthy, and not require medical intervention at all.
Suzie (nee Schapiro) Steinberg grew up in Kew Gardens Hills. She works as a social worker and lives with her husband and children in Ramat Beit Shemesh.