The Man Who Treated World War 1 Shell Shock Victims

Posted on June 14, 2018

A “precociously successful” doctor, Hurst started his career at Guy’s Hospital in 1906. He went on to found The British Society of Gastroenterology (their annual dinner is named after him), but it is the lasting record of his work during World War One (WW1) that truly sets Dr Hurst apart. Marking the centenary of this seminal work, Home Front dramatizes Arthur Hurst and his achievements at Seale Hayne Military Hospital. In April 1918, under Hurst’s command, Seale Hayne opened as a military hospital dedicated to treating soldiers with neurological problems that were categorised as shell shock. Built as an agricultural college, Seale Hayne’s quiet, rural location near to Newton Abbot was thought to be ideal for convalescing soldiers suffering with shell shock. Its patients had problems with using their bodies even though there was nothing physically wrong with them. Their symptoms included disrupted gaits, paralysis, mutism and uncontrollable spasms or tremors.

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