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A boy with polio in the Emerson Respirator (iron lung) viewing the photographer (Joe Clark) in the machine's mirror, circa 1955 (Herman Kiefer Hospital, Detroit, MI)

An Emerson Respirator, also known as an iron lung, was a machine that enabled a person to breathe on their own when muscle control had been lost (often due to poliomyelitis). It used negative pressure ventilation to induce inhalation. (Photo ID: NCP 4145. Source Collection: OHA 250: New Contributed Photographs Collection. Repository: National Museum of Health and Medicine, Otis Historic Archives. Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License [CC BY 2.0],

Associated Disorders

  • Aseptic meningitis
  • Bulbar polio
  • Bulbospinal polio
  • Infantile paralysis
  • Nonparalytic polio
  • Paralytic polio
  • Polioencephalitis
  • Post-polio progressive muscular atrophy
  • Post-polio syndrome
  • Spinal paralytic polio