Medicalising miners?
Medicine, care and rehabilitation
in Disability in industrial Britain

This chapter considers the medical understandings of, and responses to, disability in a period of considerable change and development. If the pace of medical innovation and development was rapid in the nineteenth century, it quickened in the twentieth as new ways of studying, understanding and treating the miner’s body were devised and major institutions and movements emerged which focused on the health and rehabilitation of miners. The shifting consensus on lung diseases dominated medical discourse, but the eye condition miners’ nystagmus and the development of orthopaedics, including dedicated miners’ rehabilitation centres, were equally crucial. The chapter argues that, rather than being passive patients, disabled miners – together with their families and unions – had significant agency in the medical developments of this period.

Disability in industrial Britain

A cultural and literary history of impairment in the coal industry, 1880–1948


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