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Iron lung. This artificial respiration device consists of an airtight cylindrical metal drum that encloses a patient's whole body, leaving only the head exposed. A pump raises and lowers the pressure within the chamber. When the pressure falls below that in the lungs, air is forced into the lungs; when the pressure rises above that in the lungs air is expelled. It is used to treat patients unable to breathe due to paralysis. It was used most extensively in the mid-1900s to treat patients with polio (poliomyelitis), a viral disease that infects the central nervous system causing muscle weakness and paralysis.
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