The ASET Neurodiagnostic Museum, a huge conference hit


By: Dillan Conn

For years, ASET envisioned creating a museum dedicated to the neurodiagnostic profession – a place where technologists and laymen could admire equipment, machinery, and expertise from decades past. After multiple slow starts and delays to gain exhibit space in the Smithsonian Institution, ASET decided to build the collection and mount a virtual museum.

The museum made its first showing in 2009 for ASET’s 50th Anniversary in Phoenix, Arizona. In the subsequent years, ASET staff continued working to collect, catalog and curate a living history of the Neurodiagnostic Profession. Just ahead of the 60th Anniversary of the Annual Conference we brought back the museum for its greatest exhibition. This labor of love resulted in a vivid, comprehensive display that our attendees won’t soon forget.

Grass Electrode Impedance Meter

Spanning nearly the entirety of the neurodiagnostic profession, the ASET Neurodiagnostic Museum and the especially the work of the Historical Advocacy Committee and many dedicated individuals finally shone brightly.

The ASET Neurodiagnostic Museum showcased pieces that spanned nearly half a century of extraordinary medical history. Items ranged from the 1965 Grass Model 6 and the American-made vacuum tubes used to power it, to a litany of electrodes progressing through years of technological advancement, to 5 ¼ inch rewritable data disks that a new generation of technologists may not even recognize today.  

Verbatim five and a half inch rewritable data disk.

Technologists past and present were smitten by the genesis of their livelihood. ASET President Connie Kubiak believes keeping these machines in working order ensures this link to the past will never be forgotten.

“We have a generation of technologists who have only heard the stories,” she said. “To be able to share the memories, as well as give people the opportunity to share their personal stories, and operating systems they’ve never seen, makes this all worthwhile.”

Patti Baumgartner, an ASET member since 1971, helped identify the venerable treasure trove of museum items donated from all around the country.

“It was wonderful to see all the old stuff and appreciate how far we’ve come,” she said. “Some of that stuff was really hard to use.”

Pictured here, not having a seizure, is Barney Martin (left) and Maxine Young, the Grass Model 6 Specialist.

President Connie Kubiak and her husband Barney fired up one such relic to demonstrate that the impressive analog machine still worked. Even more impressive? The Model 6 pumped out readings as smooth and accurate as it did 50 years earlier.

Watch the Grass Model 6 in action: HERE!

Cynthia Swick, chairperson of the Historical Advocacy Committee, said not just seeing, but hearing the machine in operation brought back a flood of memories.

“To hear the sound of the pens run across the paper and splattering ink could be considered the first spike and seizure detection device,” she said. “The sound the pens would make when a patient had a seizure was very distinct.”

Later in the day, resident MacGyver – Barney Martin, retrofitted the Model 6 with a pair of pliers and a few paperclips in an attempt to bring the classic machine into the 21st century. Surely a disposable EEG Cap manufactured in 2019 wouldn’t be compatible with the analog Model 6… However, much to everyone’s surprise—except Barney, of course—it worked! Thus, bridging a 54-year gap between generations of technology.

Don’t believe it worked? Watch the link-up: HERE!

While the Model 6 may have been the star of the show, piece after piece brought back memories from some of our Society’s great members.

Baumgartner said it was comforting to know the machines were all still there and still working.

“The best thing about Grass instruments is they will last forever,” she said. “And the worst thing about Grass instruments is that they will last forever. You can’t kill a Grass EEG machine with a shotgun.”

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