The Heimlich maneuver has been very useful as an emergency technique to prevent people from suffocating when they are choking on an item that blocks their airway. It may be from food or a foreign object as the Heimlich maneuver can work to dislodge either stuck item. Using abdominal thrusts, it can be safely used on both adults and children, although most people don’t recommend using the maneuver on infants or toddlers under 1 year of age. You can even perform the maneuver on yourself.
Henry Heimlich first published the idea of this maneuver in the journal of Emergency Medicine in 1974. He was a thoracic surgeon and his medical work led to a number of additional inventions that have helped patients in the medical field.
Heimlich Invented the Micro Trach
A tracheotomy sounds like a pretty scary procedure, especially since it involves poking a hole into your throat so you can bypass your nose and mouth to continue breathing. It’s a necessary procedure in some instances so that lives can be saved, but before Heimlich, the procedure required patients to be stationary. They couldn’t move around a lot and many found themselves confined to hospital beds. Heimlich invented a portable oxygen system so that patients who need the procedure done could still stay active and be able to breathe.
Instead of performing a full tracheotomy, Heimlich discovered that a micro-tracheotomy could bring about the same results and have shorter recovery times. This allowed patients to remain active, but have improved breathing.
He Also Invented the Chest Drain Valve
The Heimlich Chest Drain Valve is better known as the flutter valve and it works to drain air and blood out of a patient’s chest cavity. It’s a one-way valve that works a lot like a backflow stopper does in a home’s plumbing system. It prevents air from traveling back along a chest tube so that a normal environment within the chest cavity can be had. It’s most commonly used with a procedure is required to remove an abnormal collection of gas an air that forms between the lungs and the chest wall.
The Advocation of Malariotherapy
Heimlich was also a big proponent of using malariotherapy to treat advanced stages of serious diseases, such as Lyme disease, HIV, and cancer. Malariotherapy is the deliberate infection of someone with malaria that is considered benign because it was thought to interfere with the process of other diseases. The immune response of the body would kick in to fight the malaria, would fight the other disease, and hopefully cure the patient.
Heimlich did a small study with 7 patients, but never published the results. In 2009, malariotheraphy was deemed to be unsafe and rejected as not scientifically sound. Even with this failure, however, Heimlich will always be remembered for his idea to save people’s lives in 1974 with the maneuver that shares his name.
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