Visit the Iron Lung

Iron LungHumans breathe by negative pressure breathing; the rib cage expands and the diaphragm contracts, expanding the chest cavity. If a person loses part or all of the ability to control the muscles involved, breathing becomes difficult or impossible. This happens to people with diseases such as polio.

The person using the iron lung is placed into the central chamber, a cylindrical steel drum. A door allowing the head and neck to remain free is then closed, forming a sealed, air-tight compartment enclosing the rest of the person's body. Pumps that control airflow periodically decrease and increase the air pressure within the chamber, and particularly, on the chest. When the pressure is below that within the lungs, the lungs expand and atmospheric pressure pushes air from outside the chamber in via the person's nose and airways to keep the lungs filled; when the pressure goes above that within the lungs, the reverse occurs, and air is expelled.

The iron lung essentially mimics the physiological action of breathing; it causes air to flow in and out of the lungs. The iron lung is a form of non-invasive therapy.

Iron Lung

VISITING THE HMHC

Our permanent collections are operated by the Hennepin Health Foundation.

The collections are located in the lower level of the HCMC Blue Building – 915 S 8th St, Minneapolis, MN. MAP

Both collections are open:
Tuesdays and Thursdays
10am - 2pm and by appointment

The MMC Collection:
Is located in BL.227.

The HCMC Collection:
Is located in BL.226.

Give

The Hennepin Medical History Center, a program of Hennepin Health Foundation (a nonprofit 501(c) 3 organization), operates through the generosity of private donors.

Every gift matters. Please consider supporting our mission and activities today by clicking on the link below and choosing the History Center when filling out the Donor Designations Field.

Give to the History Center

If you experience difficulties donating online, please contact our office at 612.873.6090.

Website designed by Kindem Design and developed by Terry Barth Design