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The iron lung works by enclosing the patient's body in the airtight metal chamber. The patient's head rested outside on a pillowed head rest. By decreasing the air pressure inside the iron lung, the weight of the atmosphere outside the chamber forced air through the nose and mouth into the lungs. The iron lung, invented in 1929 by Phillip Drinker (1893-1977), a professor at the School of Public Health of Harvard University, helped keep many polio virus patients alive who could not otherwise breathe without assistance.
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