Museum on history of devices that address respiratory problems

Take a tour the American Association for Respiratory Care Virtual Museum at

By Erin Blakemore / The Washington Post

Stethoscopes. CPR. Oxygen tanks.

All make it possible for doctors to diagnose and treat conditions of the lungs, including tuberculosis and other diseases that claimed millions of lives before advances in respiratory medicine and therapy. There’s a fascinating history here.

You can delve into that history — and learn more about the researchers and medical professionals who help people catch their breath today — at the American Association for Respiratory Care’s online museum.

The website introduces topics you may not have known could be so interesting. Take the weird-looking inhalers that gave asthma patients relief during the early 20th century. Or the story of tuberculosis treatment, which once involved such things as TB colonies on boats that isolated patients and tent settlements where patients in search of relief lived outdoors even during harsh winters.

Also on virtual display are stories of the respiratory profession’s milestones and professionals who have received the association’s Legend of Respiratory Care designation.

It’s a good reminder to see that some of today’s most important technology, such as ventilators that help people on life support breathe, has such humble origins. The website makes the weight of those developments clear — and might make you a bit more grateful to take your next breath.

After reading tales of aerosolized medications, resuscitators and oxygen therapy, you may feel more grateful for respiratory medicine, too, even if you never before gave the profession or its many innovations a second thought.

More: Tour the American Association for Respiratory Care Virtual Museum at

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