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'The Palmer Injector', Glasgow, Scotland, 1955-1965

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It’s the 1950s and you have diabetes. This means your survival depends on several daily injections of insulin – the drug that helps you regulate your blood sugar levels. Up to now you’ve needed to use a glass hypodermic syringe. There’s been no other choice. Then someone gives you this pistol-like injection device to try. But why would it be any better at delivering your life-saving insulin? Perhaps like its inventor – Charles Palmer, a Scottish farmer with diabetes – you just couldn’t get used to using a syringe. They could be fiddly to use and highly unpleasant if you were at all squeamish. To inject yourself you need to push the needle through your skin whilst holding the syringe steady, before releasing the drug. Charles had begun to dread using them, so he decided to do something about it and came up with this device – the ‘Palmer Injector’. By attaching an insulin-filled syringe onto the gun-shaped steel handle, the injector makes it easy to position and hold steady. An injection can be completed using just one hand. But did it make insulin injections less painful? Pulling the trigger directed the needle into the arm at lightening speed - without the patient having to physically push the needle into their own body. Many found the injector caused little or no discomfort, transforming the experience of taking insulin for thousands of people with diabetes.

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    Glossary: self-injector

    No description.

    Glossary: diabetes

    This term refers to any form of metabolic disorder characterized by extreme thirst and excess urine production.

    Glossary: insulin

    A hormone that causes the body's cells to take up glucose from the blood. (Diabetes is the loss of control of the body's levels of insulin.)