Book ID: CBB729028820

Dancing in My Dreams: Confronting the Spectre of Polio (2016)


Highley, Kerry (Author)

Monash University Publishing

Publication Date: 2016
Physical Details: 296 pages
Language: English

Across most of the world, an entire generation has lived free from the specter of polio, but, for 50 years during the 20th century, that fear was overwhelming. Polio rapidly became every parent's worst nightmare. Epidemics arrived silently, often with symptoms that could easily be mistaken for a common cold, and dreadful suddenness. Those who were fortunate enough to survive infection often faced an unfriendly and unhelpful world. Appropriate treatments for polio survivors were fiercely debated. In pre-World War II Australia, two women symbolized a dramatic rift between the medical community's orthodoxy and those who advocated alternative therapy. In Victoria, Dr. Jean Macnamara used splints, plaster casts, and braces for treatments. Sister Elizabeth Kenny - in her clinic in Townsville and later in the US - championed and practiced an alternative approach of little or no form of constraint for the paralyzed body, advocating gentle exercise of muscles in the early acute stage of the disease, along with hot packs to relieve pain, spasms, and muscle tightness. By the 1950s, most Western countries had abandoned the orthodoxy of immobilizing polio survivors in plaster casts for months on end. In Australia, where the medical establishment was largely unquestioned, this treatment was to remain dominant until the 1960s. Dancing in My Dreams investigates the disease of polio and its treatment over a long period, the scientific endeavor that led to the discovery of the polio virus, and the early studies in virology and immunology that culminated in the production of a polio vaccine. As the frequency of polio epidemics have declined, so has the collective memory of the experience of the disease. But, there is no cure. The growth of anti-vaccine sentiment in many societies is a complicated issue, but, as this book ends by noting, the success of a vaccination program depends on the cooperation of individuals. As long as a single child remains infected with polio, all unvaccinated children throughout the world will be at risk. *** "Kerry Highley's often harrowing account is thoroughly researched and well-written. Part medical history part social history, this book should find a broad readership among those who enjoy quality Australian nonfiction. Dancing in My Dreams should be required reading for the anti-vaccination crowd." -- Dave Martus, Books+Publishing (Series: Australian History) [Subject: Medical History, Australian Studies, Virology]

Reviewed By

Review Charmaine Robson (2017) Review of "Dancing in My Dreams: Confronting the Spectre of Polio". Historical Records of Australian Science (pp. 72-73). unapi

Review Daniel J. Wilson (2016) Review of "Dancing in My Dreams: Confronting the Spectre of Polio". Social History of Medicine (pp. 248-249). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Kroker, Kenton
Rogers, Naomi
Lorusso, Lorenzo
Porro, Alessandro
Chastel, Claude
Báguena Cervellera, M. J.
Asclepio: Archivo Iberoamericano de Historia de la Medicina
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Notes and Records: The Royal Society Journal of the History of Science
Social History of Medicine
Journal of Medical Biography
Histoire des Sciences Médicales
Smithsonian Books
University of California, San Francisco
Johns Hopkins University Press
Physiotherapy; mechanotherapy; prosthetics
Therapeutic practice; therapy; treatment
Kenny, Elizabeth
Pellegrini, Augusto
Koch, Robert
Sanchis-Bayarri Vaillant, Vicente
Hilleman, Maurice
Sertić, Vladimir
United States
Valencia (Spain)
20th century
20th century, late
20th century, early
19th century
21st century
16th century
Institut Pasteur, Paris
World Health Organization (WHO)
National Cancer Institute (U.S.)
Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nürnberg

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