Why would a doctor pick someone up by their head?
October 31, 2006 12:46 PM   Subscribe

This question about a bodybuilder beheading oneself reminded me of something I read in a Judy Blume book that I never understood.

I believe the book was Deenie, and the girl has scoliosis and has to wear one of those back braces. During her visit to the doctor, he has her bend over, walk around, etc. Finally, he puts one hand on each side of her head and uses his hands to lift her up off the ground! Deenie says something like "ow" and the doctor's only reply is "sorry, but it's important." a. Isn't that REALLY dangerous and b. If that really is done/used to be done, WHY?
posted by IndigoRain to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
He drew dots on my back, presumably where my vertebrae were so that it was easy to see that my back was curving. Then x-rays were taken. Next he explained to my parents that I had scoliosis. I don't remember all that he said but I remember he had my father lift me up by placing one hand under my chin and the other at the base of my skull. When I was lifted he pointed out to my mother that my spine straightened out when I was under traction. She could see this because now the curved row of dots were a straight line.
posted by EarBucket at 1:19 PM on October 31, 2006

Is this no longer done? Is it dangerous?
posted by IndigoRain at 1:55 PM on October 31, 2006

I dunno. My father's a doctor and would probably know--I'll ask him and check back in with you.
posted by EarBucket at 2:28 PM on October 31, 2006 [1 favorite]

In the passage linked by EarBucket originally, "I remember he had my father lift me up by placing one hand under my chin and the other at the base of my skull." could she mean that he lifted her face up? I just don't think it's physically possible to lift a person who is bent over by their head, even if it was safe for them & they were as rigid as wood, the weight distribution just seems awkward and impossible.
posted by tastybrains at 4:40 PM on October 31, 2006

I think the passage, which I remember pretty well from the book, just has to do with being lifted by the head [i.e. applying traction to extend the spine] to the point where her spine straightened, not being lifted fully off the ground. That's technically what traction means.
posted by jessamyn at 4:53 PM on October 31, 2006

When I go to the chiropractor, he often pulls on my head. I'm not standing, and he's not trying to lift me off the ground though. I'm on my back on the table, he's behind me and grips the sides of my head and pulls. I feel it in my neck and cervical spine and it 'pops' a bunch of things back in place.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 6:34 AM on November 1, 2006

Wow, authors need to clarify that then, Jessamyn. Thanks everyone!
posted by IndigoRain at 11:09 AM on November 1, 2006

From my dad:

Not familiar with lifting a child by the head for a scoliosis exam, but assuming it's someone who knows what they are doing, it's probably a check for testing the flexibility of the spine to evaluate for the likelihood that using a body cast device will be able to force the spine into better alignment to grow better.
posted by EarBucket at 7:56 PM on November 2, 2006

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