Fonzarelli Syndrome

From a recent issue of the journal Neurology:

A 77-year-old man presented with a 1-year history of upper limb rest tremor, rigidity, and bradykinesia. He reported focal dystonia affecting the right thumb over the preceding 7 years, resulting in a constant "thumbs up" gesture reminiscent of the fictional television character Arthur Fonzarelli. Subsequent levodopa therapy reduced his bradykinesia and rigidity, but did not ameliorate the dystonia.

While foot dystonia is a common feature in late Parkinson disease (PD), dystonia may precede the development of PD by several years. Writer's cramp has been described as an early manifestation, with extension of the great toe also noted (the striatal foot).

Posted By: Alex - Thu Nov 06, 2008 - Comments (19)
Category: Medicine, Science, Television

Medical Museum

My pal Ed Morris discovered this site: the Medical Museum of the British Columbia Medical Association. I suspect you could spend hours here, looking at archaic tools of the medical trade, such as these contraceptive diaphragm fitting rings.

Posted By: Paul - Mon Nov 03, 2008 - Comments (14)
Category: Medicine, Museums, Birth Control

Follies of the Mad Men #37

[From Life magazine for June 9 1952.]

We saw how the advertising industry created the concept of "B.O." for "body odor." Here, less successfully, they tried to triple the problem. Note how coyly the term "other personal odors" is used to refer to farting.

Is there any scientific proof that chlorophyll tablets do anything in the human body?

And don't you just love the look of disgust on that gal's face?

Posted By: Paul - Mon Oct 13, 2008 - Comments (12)
Category: Body, Business, Advertising, Products, Frauds, Cons and Scams, Hygiene, Medicine, Obsessions, 1950s

When to amputate?

Trevor Wikre broke his pinkie during football practice. The doctors planned to set the bone, but they warned him that the injury might end his football career, and the healing process would certainly prevent him from finishing his senior year as a Mesa State College offensive lineman. So Wikre opted for a more radical procedure. He told the doctors to amputate his finger.

Is Wikre a hero or an idiot? His teammates are treating him like a hero ("No doctor is going to tell him what he can do or can’t do. I have nothing but respect for him." and "It’s awesome. That’s a pretty amazing commitment and sacrifice to go the rest of his life without a pinkie.") Personally, I'd classify him more in the idiot category. Poetic justice would be if the coaches benched him for the rest of the year.

Posted By: Alex - Mon Oct 06, 2008 - Comments (9)
Category: Medicine, Sports

Shamans in Peru

Time to look at some curanderos. The best part comes after the three-minute mark.

Posted By: Paul - Sat Oct 04, 2008 - Comments (1)
Category: Medicine, Paranormal, Religion, Foreign Customs, South America

Placenta Facials

CNN reports on some alternative beauty treatments including:

A human placenta facial treatment. The beautician who specializes in these notes that people don't get them "because it's hip" but rather because they're concerned about their skin. It certainly isn't hip. It's placenta.

Dehydrated nightingale poop facials. Aesthetician Lula Pacheco reports that at first people are hesitant about the bird poop, but "when it's done they just love how their skin feels and looks."

Other treatments include a "Fanny Facial," a breast message, and an aura lift.

Posted By: Alex - Fri Oct 03, 2008 - Comments (6)
Category: Hygiene, Medicine

Guess the Scientist!

What famous Victorian-era scientist does this passage describe? (Follow the "extended" link for the answer.)

He suffered from incessant retching or vomiting, usually brought on by fatigue; and from painful bouts of wind that churned around after meals and obliged him to sit quietly in a private room until his body behaved more politely. Reading between the lines, his guts were noisy and smelly. "I feel nearly sure that the air is generated somewhere lower down than stomach," he told one doctor plaintively in 1865, "and as soon as it regurgitates into the stomach the discomfort comes on." He was equally forthright with his cousin...: "all excitement & fatigue brings on such dreadful flatulence that in fact I can go nowhere." When he did go somewhere, he needed privacy after meals, "for, as you know, my odious stomach requires that."

He also had trouble with his bowels, frequently suffering from constipation and vulnerable to the obsession with regularity that stalked most Victorians. He developed crops of boils in what he called "perfectly devilish attacks" on his backside, making it impossible to sit upright, and occasional eczema. There were headaches and giddiness. He probably had piles as well.

More in extended >>

Posted By: Alex - Sun Sep 07, 2008 - Comments (2)
Category: Medicine, Quizzes, Guess the Scientist, Science

Fish Removed From Bladder

An interesting case study is reported in the Internet Journal of Urology (2007, Vol. 4, #2). It's titled "Unusual Foreign Body In Urinary Bladder: A Case Report."

A 14-year-old Indian boy showed up at a hospital complaining of pain and difficulty urinating. He claimed that a fish had lodged itself in his penis. His story, according to the doctors:

While he was cleaning the fish tank in his house, he was holding a fish in his hand and went to the toilet for passing urine. While he was passing urine, the fish slipped from his hand and entered his urethra and then he developed all these symptoms.

Sure enough, he DID have a dead fish in his bladder. Initial attempts to remove it with a biopsy forceps were unsuccessful. The fish was too slippery to grasp onto. But with the help of a rigid ureteroscope they got it out.

The doctors seem a little skeptical of the boy's story. They note that, "Introduction into the bladder may be through self-insertion, iatrogenic means or migration from adjacent organs."

Posted By: Alex - Thu Aug 28, 2008 - Comments (5)
Category: Animals, Medicine

Wire Woman

A 40-year-old Indonesian woman named Noorsyaidah is growing metal wires out of her stomach. Apparently this is "big news" in Indonesia. The problem has been plaguing her for almost seventeen years. From the Phantoms & Monsters blog:

During the first week wires kept falling off from her body and were gone. A month later, the wires grew back again and from that time onward the wires did not fall. They kept growing! One of her sisters said that she tried to help by trimming the wires. Alas, whenever she trimmed the wires, the wire retreated as if it were hiding and then popped up in another part of Noorsyaidah’s body.

And we've got video of wire woman:

If these "wires" are more like bony growths, then it might be a real medical condition. But if the wires are actually metal, then it's b.s.

Posted By: Alex - Wed Aug 27, 2008 - Comments (1)
Category: Body Modifications, Medicine, Unsolved Mysteries

The Portland Acupuncture Project

Artist Adam Kuby wants to heal Portland -- by using acupuncture. He would literally stick giant needles into the ground at various sites around the city. He writes:

Think of the city as a body the way traditional Chinese medicine does-- not only as a physical entity but also as a system of energy that flows in distinct pathways called meridians. The energy, or Qi, needs to be in balance. If a person's Qi is out of balance, disease can set in. The same could be true for a city. This project explores the junction between art, regional planning, the environment, asian medicine and the health of a city. A single 23 ft tall acupuncture needle was inserted at the South Waterfront for the month of March. A city-wide installation of many such needles is possible in the future.

Kuby has a bunch of photoshopped pictures on his site showing what his project would look like, should it ever be completed.

Some of his other art proposals are interesting. For instance, I like his "Cliff Dwelling" idea, which would involve adding an artificial rock ledge to the side of a skyscraper as a nesting place for peregrine falcons. People could watch the birds from inside the building, but unlike a zoo the birds would be free while the humans would be confined. (Thanks to Cranky Media Guy)

Posted By: Alex - Wed Aug 20, 2008 - Comments (1)
Category: Art, Medicine, Regionalism

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Who We Are
Alex Boese
Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction, science-themed books such as Elephants on Acid and Psychedelic Apes.

Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.

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