British Medical Association Family Health Encyclopedia. CD-Rom for Multimedia PC and Mac; Pounds 39.99 inc VAT. Dorling Kindersley, 9 Henrietta Street, London WC2E 8PS. Tel: 0171 836 5411 (fax - 7570)Internet: www.dk.com. Age range: 15 +
My class spent many rainy days in the library looking at the medical books. Facts and photos of vitamin deficiencies and skin disorders were our soul food. Many of us went into hospital careers and if we'd had Family Health Encyclopedia, we'd have fed on it.
Large sections look at diseases, accidents and emergencies, plus caring for yourself and others, and an Internet button takes you to an on-line health club. If you click on eye disorders, you find a diagram explaining how the eye works, and a list of complaints such as glaucoma, squints and colour blindness. Here, among around some 30 articles, are myopia, choroiditis, cataracts and exophthamos (eye bulge). This is the pattern for every other body system - ears, heart, urinary tract, muscles, blood, and so on. Technical words are pronounced, pop-up boxes explain them and the cross-referencing is as good as it gets.
An atlas of the body gives a brief outline of where things are, and there are explanations of medical procedures such as broncoscopy or lithotripsy. Many have video clips to show what happens.
Finally, a self-diagnosis section lets you point at the bit that hurts, and takes you through your symptoms. This is slickly done as a flow chart, but I warn you, it reads aloud, so turn off the sound. Hypochondriacs should close their eyes, too.