In memoriam Dr. Martin Heckel
10.04.1926 - 04.06.2007
Martin Heckel was born on April 10, 1926 in Neuenbürg an der Enz. After finishing his medical studies in Tübingen in 1949, he passed his training as a specialist in internal medicine. It was already then that he was starting to take particular interest in the practice of pyrogenic fever therapy, which was customary at that time.
After suffering from poliomyelitis in 1955, with early paraplegia and long-term atrophy of the leg muscles, he felt impelled - after many falls and several fractures - to switch to radiology. In order to help him overcome this disability that was threatening his career, at the end of the 1950s he developed "from first-hand experience" a self-built infrared device for whole body hyperthermia, which he presented in "Strahlentherapie" in 1960.
After his tenure as head of the radiology and isotope department at the medical clinic of the Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt hospital from 1961 to 1965, he settled in a dedicated radiology institute in Esslingen am Neckar from 1965 to 1980. In conjunction, from 1971 onwards he set up a hyperthermia treatment institute in his own house along with his wife, Dr. Ilse Heckel. For more than two decades they treated numerous patients particularly those who suffered from chronic inflammation and disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Most of these patients having been referred by local colleagues. He reported his clinical experience in various publications, including in "Medizinische Welt" in 1979.
In 1981, again after countless experiments on himself, he developed the technical principle of supplying heat by diffuse infrared reflection scattering with subsequent heat retention phase, which has been used to date in the heckel-HT2000(M) devices. He discussed the method in several publications and numerous presentations at home and abroad. In 1990 his monograph "Ganzkörperhyperthermie und Fiebertherapie" ["Whole body hyperthermia and fever therapy"] was published by Hippokrates-Verlag, Stuttgart. Various attempts to find companies to build and market the device were largely unsuccessful, until the company "heckel - Therapeutische Infrarot-Systeme" was founded in 1994 by his son Stefan Heckel-Reusser. The company later changed its name to "heckel medizintechnik GmbH".
Martin Heckel, together with Manfred von Ardenne, was a pioneer of modern whole body hyperthermia. He combined his enthusiasm for this type of therapy with sober analysis. He never put on extravagant displays or boasted of his achievements. He was always aware of the limitations of any individual treatment method and the art of medicine in general.