LIGHTNING STROKE.—Persons struck by lightning are usually killed instantly. In some cases there are no external evidences of injury on the victim's body ; in other instances there may be slight abrasions, singed hair, holes in the skin, small sloughs covered with scabs, and more or less extensive burns. Characteristic " light ning marks " are seen quite often, and consist of branching stria!, red or reddish-brown in colour, Nvhich apparently indicate the path of the electric current (see Fig. 254). These marks usually disappear Nvithin a few days. Some victims of lightning strokes have been thrown bodily several yards, and severely injured by the fall.
If the stricken person be not killed out right, he is usually rendered unconscious and has a weak pulse, shallow respiration, cold skin, and a pale face. The prognosis for a complete cure is nevertheless favourable. After a longer or shorter period the injured person may recover from his coma %vithout having been seriously injured ; but, as a rule, partial paralysis, loss of speech, hypenethesia or anesthesia of the skin and various neurotic pains are the resultant dis turbances. These, however, usually disappear under appropriate treatment.
The first aid to a person injured by lightning should consist in loosening all tight garments, sprinkling the face %vitt] cold water, keeping the head low, rubbing the body, and applying smelling-salts to the nostrils. Enemas of vinegar or salt water should also be administered. If the person be able to swallow, a small quantity of an alcoholic stimulant or Hoffmann's anodyne may be given on a lump of sugar or in a little water. When the accident has taken place in a closed room, this should at once be thoroughly ventilated, or the patient brought into the open air. Other remedial measures must be applied by the physician, who should be called at the earliest opportunity.
In order to avoid the clanger of being struck by lightning, it is \Veil to observe certain precautions. One should not cross an open field during a thunder-storm, nor seek shelter under tall, isolated trees. Telephone and telegraph poles should likewise be avoided. If caught in an open field, it is advisable to sit or lie down. In a room one should keep away from large
metallic objects, such as chandeliers, and avoid using the telephone. Windows may be kept open, provided there is no draught. The greatest danger when a bolt of lightning finds its way into a closed room is that of suffocation. The popular method of covering an injured person ‘rith clay, or burying him in earth, is a useless procedure.
LIGHT-TREATMENT.--The treatment of disease by means of electric light was introduced by Nils Finsen, a Danish physician, \Nilo discovered that the ultra-violet rays cause redness and darkening of the skin, and are capable of destroying bacteria. Incandescent-light baths, used for the purpose of inducing sweating, do not belong to this category. Treatment by electric light has been most successful in lupus and in a few diseases of the skin. In carry ing on the treatment the light from an arc-lamp is focussed by means of a quartz-lens, being cooled by passing through water, and is then directed to the affected por tion of the skin, \ vhich has pre viously been rendered bloodless. The healthy skin must be protected from the light. If the ment be continued long enough, the lupus nodes will disappear, leaving only a non-disfiguring scar. The method has recently been improved by the construction of special lamps, in which the electrodes are made from iron instead of from coal, thus furnishing a very bright and cold light, ?vith high bactericidal power. Applications \vith this lamp (see Fig. 255) require much less time.
Red light has a certain action on the skin (seen, for instance, in eruptive diseases, such as smallpox, measles, etc.), hut has not vet been thoroughly investigated. The entire system of light-treatment is still in its stage of development, but that has not prevented its being utilised by quacks. The application of this treatment by inexperienced laymen will not fail to result in injurious after-effects. The public should not allow itself to be entrapped by the advertisements of these non-professional " light-healers." Fig. 256 shows the Finsen treatment with the utilisation of sunlight.