What is a waterbed?

   The waterbed is a device that originated with Neil Arnott, one of Queen Victoria's physicians. It consists of a trough of the dimensions of a wide sofa or a bed, with six or seven inches depth of water in it, and over it a caoutchouc covering on which clothes and pillows are laid as in a common bed. A more convenient and portable contrivance is the water mattress, consisting of a caoutehouc or waterproof bag of the size of an ordinary mattress, which may be filled with water of any degree of temperature, or with air, as may be desired. The waterbed is exceedingly useful in many diseases, but it is frequently a considerable time before the patient can become accustomed to its use, and some can never be reconciled to it. A person weakened from disease often suffers considerable pain from pressure, and it is necessary for the comfort of the patient that his position be changed frequently. This is in great measure obviated by the waterbed. In other cases sensation is blunted, and the patient remaining for lengthened periods in one position, surfaces exposed to long-continued pressure are apt to slough, causing bed sores, and such may only be discovered accidentally. In such cases the water bed relieves the pressure, and thus prevents the formation of bed sores. In all diseases in which the patient is confined long to bed, as in lingering consumption, paralysis, disease of the spine, and fevers with delirium, the waterbed is of great value.