Medical technology has had complicated consequences for people with disabilities.
Developments in diagnosis and treatment have improved both the quality and length of life. Medical technologies have ameliorated conditions, saved lives, and counter-balanced impairments. They also have created new conditions and exacerbated existing ones, as well as overtaken the lives and identities of people who rely upon medical interventions. A person may be known or identified by others primarily by a medical condition. In the 1950s, Thalidomide given to pregnant women to relieve morning sickness resulted in children born with anomalies.
Disease epidemics, such as polio and HIV, upset established communities and sometimes resulted in widespread disability. The German measles (rubella) epidemics of the 1960s were responsible for many children with deafness.
Incubators were invented in the 1880s. They were such a novelty that the devices, along with live infants, were displayed at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago, the 1901 Buffalo Exposition; from 1903 to the 1940s, Coney Island hosted an incubator show. Neonatal units became standard in hospitals in the 1940s.
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