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February 28, 2022
4:00pm to 5:30pm
5288 Bunche Hall

“Polio, Adventism, and Rehabilitation Medicine in Los Angeles.”

Rancho Los Amigos was founded during the late nineteenth century as a poor farm but became a rehabilitation hospital for iron lung patients during Los Angeles’s 1950s polio epidemics. Following the polio vaccination campaigns, researchers received federal funding to test Rancho’s concept of care on other chronic patient groups and it became an internationally renowned rehabilitation center.

Various aspects of Los Angeles's city life, including its unorthodox religious environment, tradition of popular medicine, and local industries, from Hollywood to aerospace, informed the process by which rehabilitation took shape at Rancho Los Amigos. My talk situates Seventh Day Adventism within this history.  Many of the physicians who worked at Rancho Los Amigos during the years that it became a rehabilitation center were educated at the College of Medical Evangelists (now the Loma Linda University School of Medicine), an Adventist medical school in Loma Linda, California. I will discuss how life in Southern California’s Adventist community impacted not only the clinical practice of rehabilitation at Rancho Los Amigos, but the research conducted in its laboratories. In studying how Adventists, Department of Defense researchers, and local engineers designed rehabilitation technologies, we see how the region’s unique environment stimulated innovation in rehabilitation medicine, both locally and nationally.

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