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He’s not a caveman doctor, but he plays one on TV

Grant Lipman, MD, recently provided medical aid to 10 people living like cavemen in near-Paleolithic conditions - an area of the Rockies three hours by car and all-terrain vehicle from Steamboat Springs, Colo.

Lipman was serving as medical director for the production of "I, Caveman," a kind of reality TV show that is airing at 8 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 2, as part of the Discovery Channel's Curiosity series.

"We wanted to ask, 'Were people better off as cavemen?' How would our lives work without all the material stuff we depend on today?" Alan Eyres, an executive producer at the Discovery Channel, told me in a phone interview about the show.

I describe Lipman's role in the production in my press release:

As an expert in wilderness medicine, he was particularly well suited for the job of treating members of a 10-person clan - six men and four women - who hunted with stone weapons and wore animal skins last summer in a remote patch of wilderness in the Southern Rocky Mountains.

And Lipman got plenty of opportunities to use his particular skills:

In one case, the most skilled hunter in the group badly cut his hand - his throwing hand, for that matter - while fashioning an obsidian spear tip. The cut got infected, and Lipman had to intervene with some antibiotics. Others suffered from mild hypothermia, altitude sickness and, in one case, acute bronchitis, which he closely monitored. "It could have led to high altitude pulmonary edema" - a life threatening condition in which fluid builds up in the lungs, he said. In another case, a cavewoman partially dislocated a rib, which he had to realign.

"Even though my patients were cavemen, they got the highest standard of modern medical care," he said.

Lipman also treated production crew members, some of whom suffered from mild hypothermia, altitude sickness, twisted ankles and leech wounds.

Photo by Lord Jim

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