CURVATURES OF), mostly lateral bendings. Of the organs of sense, the eyes are especially endangered. See EYE, CARE OF.
It is unquestionably true that the school plays a part in the transmission of infectious diseases, for it is obvious that the crowding of many children into a comparatively small room must be conducive to the spread of diseases. Those principally to be considered are measles, scarlatina, diphtheria, whooping-cough. and certain diseases of the eyes. A child attending school may, without being personally infected, bring home a disease to the other children of the family who are not yet going to school.
Disturbances of mental health may be directly due to school conditions. An excess of mental work, and too great a variety of subjects taught, are undoubtedly capable of shaking the nervous system of children who are not very resistant ; and morbid changes of the mind, or lack of proper sleep, may occur in consequence. To judge of the extent of harm possibly done by the school is, however, the physician's part. As a matter of fact, the overwork of school children, which at present has become a byword, is often non-existent ; and the inability of a pupil to attend to his lessons is frequently due, not to the rules of the school, but to a diseased condition of the pupil. A timely discovery of these morbid symptoms by a thorough medical examination is of equal importance to the parents and to the children. Especial attention must be called to those affections of the upper air-passages (proliferations of the pharyngeal tonsil) which prevent the child from breathing with the mouth closed. This disturbance of breathing affects not only the bodily well-being of the children, but also their mental capacity ; and it always requires thorough medical treatment.
Public hygiene endeavours as much as possible to obviate and to prevent all harmful influences of the school. Rational placing of school-buildings, correct distribution of the space allotted to the different rooms, sufficient ventilation, and suitable heating and illuminating arrangements will tend either to remove or to diminish the above-mentioned deleterious influences.
The dust contained in the class-rooms requires special attention. As far as possible it should be removed by sufficient damp cleaning. This is
greatly aided by the dust-binding stains for the floors (dustless oil, etc.), and by a certain construction of the benches which permits of a thorough mopping under them. Further, by interposing recesses between the lessons, the pupils are given an opportunity to be in the open air, while, at the same time, the class-rooms are being ventilated.
The correct selection of the school-benches, according to the height of the pupils, is of great importance. From a hygienic standpoint, it must be demanded that the places of the pupils are determined by their heights, not by their ability. The benches must be so constructed that a faulty attitude is made difficult for the pupil. The introduction of a vertical, instead of a slanting, handwriting is recommended for the same reason.
To prevent the transmission of infectious diseases, various governments have decreed that children suffering from measles, rubella, scarlatina, diphtheria, smallpox, cholera, dysentery, typhus fever, and relapsing fever, or those in whose families or households any of these diseases are present, must not be allowed to attend school ; the same applies to children affected with typhoid fever, Egyptian ophthalmia, scabies, and whooping-cough.
To counteract one-sided muscular exertion, the practice of gymnastics, and still more of athletic and youthful games, should be encouraged. Douche baths established in the schools are worthy of recommendation as tending not only to promote cleanliness, hut also to harden the body. It is to be hoped, further, that the engagement of school physicians may be more generally adopted.
SCIATICA.—An acute inflammation occurring in the sciatic nerve (see p. 159) or in some of its branches. Frequently beginning in the small of the back, like lumbago, the pain of sciatica follows the course of the posterior nerve of the thigh. Cold, over-exertion, injury, and the pressure of faces or of tumours in the rectum are among the most frequent causes of this affection. The disease often runs a protracted course ; but it usually terminates in recovery, although remissions may be frequent, particularly if the patient abuses his privileges.