"the bends"--bibliographical reference

Gerald Cohen gcohen at UMR.EDU
Tue Apr 16 18:53:22 UTC 2002

    Here's the article with information on "the bends":

        David Diaz: "Under Pressure". _Invention & Technology_,
spring 1996, vol. 11, no. 4, pp.53-63.

        Over the title appears the following summation; "By spanning
the Mississippi at St. Louis, James Eads inaugurated a new era in
bridge technology.  He also encountered a terrible new hazard for
works: caisson disease."

    Here is part of what Diaz writes about the bends;all told, 14
workers died of the bends, and there  were 119 severe cases:

        (p.58) "The workers, of  course, had no such option [of
deciding how long to remain with the caisson].  And magnificent as
Eads's engineering triumph was, there emerged one fundamental problem
that his faith in scientific laws had neither anticipated nor
resolved.  The trouble started gradually, when the east caisson was
just 155 feet deep in the riverbed, with 24 pounds of pressure
filling the work chamber.  A number o f workmen suddenly began
suffering sharp pains in their limbs and joints after leaving the
caisson, aches much more intense than the normal workday soreness.
At first the pains tended to abate after a few hours, and so long as
the men recovered rapidly, most workers refused to worry, even joking
at their unfortunate fellows.  The seizures often left men bent
forward with back pains, and the affliction was dubbed the Grecian
Bend, after a style of women's dress that puts wearers in a similar
stance.  Later the name was shortened to 'the bends.'"

--Gerald Cohen

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