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Action Of The Pack And Bath Rationale

Source: Hydriatic Treatment Of Scarlet Fever In Its Different Forms

The action of the wet-sheet pack is thus easily accounted for:

According to a well-known physical law, any cold body, whether dead or
alive, placed in close contact with a warm body, will abstract from the
latter as much heat as necessary to equalize the temperature of both.
The transfer of caloric will begin at the place at which the two bodies
are nearest to each other. The wet sheet, which touches the patient's
body all over the surface, abstracts heat from the latter, till the
temperature of the sheet becomes equal to that of the body. In
proportion as the surface of the body yields heat to the sheet, the
parts next to the surface impart heat to the latter, and so forth, till
the whole body becomes cooler, whilst the sheet becomes warmer. As the
heat imparted to the sheet cannot escape from it, the sheet being
closely wrapt up in the blanket and bed, the current of caloric once
established towards every part of the surface of the body will still
continue; after the temperature of the sheet and the body has become
equal, there will be an accumulation of heat around the body, frequently
of a higher degree than the body itself. To explain this phenomenon, we
ought to consider that we have not to do with _two dead_ bodies, but
with _one dead_ and _one living_ body, which constantly creates heat,
thus continuously supplying the heat escaping from it to the sheet, and
keeping up the current of caloric _and electricity_ established towards
the surface. There cannot be a doubt that the abstraction of electricity
from the feverish organism contributes in a great measure to the relief
of the excited nerves of the patient, as well as to the excess of
temperature observed around the body in the wet-sheet pack (after the
patient has been in it for some time); and that, in general, electricity
deserves a closer investigation in the morbid phenomena of the human
body than it has found to this day.

Next: What Effect Could Be Expected From A Warm Wet-sheet?

Previous: Technicalities Of The Pack And Bath

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