SISTER KENNY: The Woman Who Challenged the Doctors by Victor Cohn

SISTER KENNY: The Woman Who Challenged the Doctors

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A well-written biography of the person who did more than anyone to revolutionize the treatment of polio, Elizabeth Kenny--a ""self-reliant bush nurse from Australia,"" an energetic, independent, tough-minded woman who did battle for over half a century in a man's world. Standard (and revered) medical practice over the years had prescribed casts, splints, and total inactivity; her methods, which were at first thought ""unscientific,"" involved hot baths, exercise, and as much movement as possible. Finding no acceptance of her ideas in Australia, Kenny came to the US in 1940 ""for a hearing,"" thinking she would stay only a few days and remaining instead for over a decade. The disease and the fear had reached an all-time peak by then. Never diplomatic, often overbearing even to her best friends and supporters, Sister Kenny led a long and hard crusade. As her successes began to multiply, writers interviewed her, Hollywood did her story in a 1946 movie starting Rosalind Russell, and Kenny Institutes sprang up across the country. After eleven years of warring against the Establishment, she returned to Australia, still feeling that she had never gotten the full acceptance and recognition she deserved. Her impact was great, but there are still Kenny detractors as well as enthusiasts. The author, who put twenty years into researching and writing this biography, avoids sugar-coating--which helps provide balance and appeal in this very conventional biography.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1975
Publisher: Univ of Minnesota Press