IT IS not a new idea—paying the doctor to keep you well. The custom was followed in China some thousands of years ago. It is in the modern civilizations where we have the most advanced medical science, and a generally accepted faith in it, that we use it only as a last resort—when the troublesome organ has perhaps become so broken down that the physician has nothing to work on. We know of cases among our friends and neighbors where physical troubles that became serious or even fatal began with symptoms that no layman could be expected to detect. If the afflicted had had the habit of paying regular periodical visits to the doctor as they do to the dentist, most of these troubles would have been caught in their early and curable stages.
With this idea in mind, the Life Protection Association was organized in Canada. It is the first and only institution of its kind in the British Empire. There is a Life Extension Association in the United States, but the “protective” idea seems to go one better. It exists not only that people may have longer life but that they may have it more abundantly, a richer, fuller quality of living with as nearly one hundred per cent, health as possible, and never a day spoiled or an effort handicapped by physical defect or suffering. The plan is to enlist the whole people—business men, lawyers, doctors, teachers, stenographers, farmers, homemakers, mothers and children as members of an association whose object is to keep people well. When the members join the association, and once a year thereafter so long as they remain members, they are given a thorough medical examination. Four times during the year there are other special reports from the association’s own laboratory, and bulletins on health and hygiene are issued periodically. For this entire service the member pays an annual fee of fifteen dollars. What this may save in the way of ill-health, suffering and subsequent doctors’ bills, can be partly estimated from cases we know.
T AST spring a young woman noticed ' that she did not feel very well. It didn’t surprise her greatly because she had had a rather bad time with ’flu and pneumonia during the winter. She went into the country for a rest but itdidn’t seem to do her any good. She was possessed of an overwhelming tiredness, but no apparent symptoms of any illness. Finally she went to a consulting physician and he told her what was wrong. One lung was almost entirely shrivelled up and the other was spotted--some time in her life she had a very active attack of tuberculosis. The shrinking of this lung had pulled the spine over, leaving a rather bad curvature.
Her tonsils were diseased and she had a tooth adding its contribution of poison to the general trouble. If she had made a practice of going to a doctor for a thorough look-over every year, all this would have been detected earlier, when the matter of effecting a cure would have been comparatively easy. No less an authority than Dr. Harvey D. Wiley says: “Tuberculosis is now regarded as a wholly avoidable disease. There is a general feeling in the medical profession that incipient tuberculosis, as a rule, can be aborted and the patient’s life saved. The superintendent of the Massachusetts State Hospital for Tuberculosis said to me a short time ago, much to my delight and astonishment, that fully eighty per cent, of the cases of incipient tuberculosis which came to his hospital were in the course of time discharged wholly free of the disease.” Another cause of the waste of life next to tuberculosis is the maternal and infant mortality due to convulsions at childbirth. A report gathered from hospital records shows how this could almost invariably be prevented if the mother had had proper medical supervision up to the time the baby was born. In the semiprivate ward where the mothers had not been under a doctor’s care up to confinement, out of one thousand cases eight mothers died, forty babies died and sixteen mothers had convulsions. In the public ward, where the patients had probably had poverty and other undesirable home conditions, and where they had had no medical attention up to confinement, out of one thousand cases, thirty-five mothers died, seventy-nine babies died and thirty mothers had convulsions. But in the public ward where the mothers had had medical supervision up to confinement, usually through the outpatient clinics, out of one thousand cases only four mothers died, thirteen babies died and there were only four cases of convulsions.
This shows the efficacy of pre-natal care, though among enlightened people this is pretty well understood. It is not so generally known that a weakness in this direction may have its beginnings years before— which is where the special reports of the association are most valuable. Four times during the year, as well as at the initial examination, a urinalysis is made at the association’s laboratory, and a full report sent to the member. These examinations, of course, also detect any signs of Bright’s disease or related disorder. In fact this is one of the most important features of the whole scheme; the laboratory test, perhaps more than any other part of the
examination, will reveal conditions which in their early stages may be treated and remedied, but which, if left to develop, will be absolutely incurable. Everyone knows the seriousness of Bright’s disease or diabetes, but few people realize that in its early stage the disease gives no definite sign to the victim—nothing but a laboratory test will indicate its presence or absence.
BUT the Life Protective Association does not concern itself only with these life and death troubles. Where one human being suffers from these major afflictions, one hundred are struggling along under some minor handicap that takes a measure of the joy out of life every day and stands in the way of every ambition. Take a defect as common as fallen arches. _ The number of men rejected from military service on account of this weakness gives some indication of how general it must be among the whole population. In prescribing a different kind of shoe, the examining physician may work miracles in toning up the patient’s nerves and endurance and setting'right his whole outlook on life.
Nor is the work with children the least important department. The saying that few parents know their own children is never more true than in matters of health. Even with very young children, what appears to be merely a case of bow-legs from attempting to walk too soon may be a very serious case of rickets. When a physician discovers this he will advise a proper diet, out door air and probably some form of cod-liver oil. Malnutrition, adenoids, nose and throat troubles, bad teeth and defective eyesight, which form the bulk pf the troubles discovered in the medical inspection of school children, often get a good start before the children ever get to school. In fact, the ‘‘in-between” age—from the time the child receives the watchful care of babyhood until he goes to school—is one of the dangerperiods of a life time. Another critical period comes between the ages of twelve and fifteen or sixteen. A world recognized authority on health matters says: “There is one disease which particularly loves this age—tuberculosis. • The first duty which I urge upon the parent is to have the child carefully examined by a competent physician as this period is about to take place and during its progress. I feel certain that a large percentage of deaths from tuberculosis in early life could be avoided if this procedure were generally carried out.”
And the service of this association does not consist alone in discovering defects. A considerable amount of good will be done in curing neurasthenics who suffer from worry over imaginary illnesses. It means a lot to the patient who takes “smothering spells.” largely out of fear that his heart isn’t functioning properly, to have a reliable physician tell him that there is nothing wrong with his heart: that the trouble is entirely due to nerves and that the “nerves” are largely caused by fear of a condition which does not
A clever young business man i n Toronto, where the Association
has its headquarters is most enthusiastic over the idea. He wants to become a member but he is afraid to be examined. He has had a series of bad colds lately, has been losing weight a little and is afraid of what the doctor may discover. A lot of us have been guilty of just such ostrich-mindedness. The chances are that the young man’s loss cf weight is partly due to worryiver what he imagines to be a serious contion of ill-health. Should an examination prove him to be organically sound, his whole condition would rise like mercury in the sun. It is sometimes worth more than a doctor’s fee to know that there is nothing the matter with you.
THE association has only been organized three months, but it has its own offices and consulting rooms with a nurse in charge,and a board of consulting physicians.
each of whom is a recognized expert diagnostician, and the. work is already going strong. They do not offer treatment for any impairment. They merely give the most complete physical examination it is possible to give. The result of this examination is passed upon by the Board of Diagnosticians and you are furnished with a complete story of your system whether it be normal or impaired. In the latter case you are recommended to consult your own physician to whom the board will give their technical findings and detailed advice regarding treatment if he desires it. It is a movement in line with the new gospel of health—more education, more care, more preventive measures; less suffering, less semi-efficiency and loss of life through troubles which if taken in time could be completely cured or reduced to a minimum.
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