Naval History and Heritage Command

National Museum of the U.S. Navy

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Health

This section contains a focus on a new technqiue developed by the U.S. Navy Medical Department which permitted a constant watch on the physical condition of animal and human occupants of space vehicles.   Measurements of body functions such as blood pressure, temperature, breath sounds, heart sounds, brain waves and electrocardiograms were superimposed on carrier waves, then transmitted over world-wide and telephone circuts.  These were restored to their original form at the Naval Medical Research Institute where they were received by telephone.   The exact physical condition of Earth orbiting passengers were constantly known. 

In addition to its application to outer space research, this technique enabled isolated medical practitioners who needed the services of medical specialists, available only in a large ciy many miles distant to transmit all the essential information to the specialist by telephone.  If a consultant was not available at the time of the call, information was recorded on a magnetic tape and the entire examination episode was repeated at his convenience.  The specialists could hear the the heart monitoring, see the pulse pressure, and hear the breath sounds, just as he could if the patient was present in his office.  The telephone was developed at the Naval Medical Research Institute, National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland, under the direction of Captain Norman Lee Barr, MC.