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Curare in the treatment of poliomyelitis.

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About this work

Also known as

Curare (Intocostrin) in the treatment of acute anterior poliomyelitis


This film is presented by Orthopedic Surgeon, Nicholas S. Ransohoff. He describes how 29 patients were treated in 1945 for polio; there was one death but many of the others are mobile as a result of their treatment. The patients were treated with curare and intensive physical therapy to prevent foreshortened muscles and muscle weakness. Ransohoff describes how the patients' muscles are subject to minute 'action' electric currents. The process is recorded via electromigraphic readings. The case hsitories around all the patients are described individually. One patient, 'Bill', demonstrates his lack of cervical mobility; curare noticeably improves his movement. Two weeks later, he is doing forward bends on a bed. Intense physical therapy for Bill includes time in the hospital workshop. He poses next to a car. 'Johnny' (a boy of about 10) was one of the first patients to receive curare. 32 days later he was discharged with light paralysis; subsequently he improved further. 'Marie', a female patient, is helped with her physical therapy by a nurse who intensively stretches her joints and muscles on the arm and hand. Her head and back are stretched. She walks with the aid of a walker; unaided she is very wobbly and unstable. She uses a bicycle and parrallel bars with evidence of poor muscle power. Part of her occupational therapy is to work on handicrafts including a foot loom. 'Sheila', an adolescent girl demonstrates asymmetrical exercises. 'Joan', a girl, is very rigid until curare is administered. The sewing machine with foot rests is handy to get the ankles flexible which she demonstrates. Joan continues to improve with hydrotherapy in a tank of water. 'Gay', a female infant, 'Kenny' and 'Joyce' are all well after treatment together with other infants. 'Audrey', an adult female, after 2 months in hospital, is clearly weakened by her illness. She walks to and fro on tip toes. 'Marie' another infant recovers her movement after 6 months. 'Paul' was a more challenging case as he also had the added compilation of having diabetes. Once on his feet, he recovered slowly going from using a cane to using none. 'Melvin' a child and 'Mildred' were both severe cases which were miraculously turned around by curare. 'Johnny''s condition was not immediately diagnosed; starting very rigid, he improved and 2 months later started to walk. He used hydrotherapy and is completely relaxed as he goes through his exercise regime in the water. 4 months later, Johnny rides his bicycle. 'Marjorie' came to the hospital with an injury on her left leg which slowed her recovery. 'Sheila' is also treated; the nurse manipulates her arm and hand. Her spasms have been controlled by working on a mariner's wheel fixed to the hospital wall. 'Tommy' a infant boy was cured in 4 days. A woman contracted polio at nine months pregnant; she gave birth to a healthy baby and resumed treatment after the baby was born. She attends to her baby 5 months after she contracted polio. A healthy boy on a swing was the first patient to experience this successful treatment regime in Princeton; his exact dosage is described. He spent 14 days in a respirator. All the patients assemble on the steps of the hospital ranging from 2 1/2 years old upwards.


United States, 1946.

Physical description

1 videocassette (DIGIBETA) (40 min.) : silent, color
1 DVD (40 min.) : sound, color

Creator/production credits

From the Orthopedic Service and the Physical Therapy Department Monmouth Memorial Hospital, Long Branch, New Jersey. Nicholas S. Ransohoff, Orthopedic Surgeon,



  • English

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