Kenny, Elizabeth

Article

August 11, 2022

Elizabeth Kenny (Eng. Elizabeth Kenny; September 20, 1880, Varialda - November 30, 1952, Toowoomba) - Australian "bush nurse", self-taught; and a writer. She became famous for developing her own approach to the treatment of polio, which at the time caused fierce controversy, in particular, the Australian medical establishment called her unusual procedures "dangerous, destructive, costly and cruel." Her method, promoted internationally while working in Australia, Europe and the United States, differed from the usual method of applying plaster casts to affected limbs. Instead, she applied hot compresses and then passively moved the patches to reduce what she called "spasm." Her principles of muscle recovery have become the basis of physiotherapy in such cases.

Biography

Childhood and youth

Elizabeth Kenny was born on September 20, 1880 in Varialda, New South Wales, Australia. Father's name was Michael Kenny, he was an Irish farmer; mother - Scottish Mary Kenny (before marriage - Moore; 1844-1937). At first, the girl was educated by her mother at home, but then she began to attend school in the town of Guira, later (after the family moved) to Nobby (Queensland). At the age of 17, Kenny broke her wrist in a fall from a horse. Her father took her to Dr. Aeneas McDonnell in the city of Toowoomba, the girl stayed with the doctor for a period of recovery, and it was there that she became interested in books on human anatomy, how muscles work, and was imbued with a love for medicine. McDonnell remained a lifelong friend, mentor and advisor to Kenny. Soon, Kenny received a certificate from the Minister of Public Education as a teacher of religious education and began working in a Sunday school in the town of Rockfield. The girl independently learned to play the piano, called herself a "music teacher" and began to "teach" her. In 1907 Kenny returned to Guira. Started quite successfully in the sale of agricultural products between Guira and Brisbane. After that she worked as a cook at a local cottage hospital. Paid a local seamstress to make her a nurse's uniform. Carefully observing the actions of the medical staff in the hospital, I considered myself quite experienced, so I believed