The History of Advanced Prosthetics: Tragedy to Triumph

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The History of Advanced Prosthetics: Tragedy to Triumph

While advanced prosthetics in Arkansas and elsewhere may seem like a given in modern times, the evolution of functional artificial limbs has its origins in tragedy, determination, and creativity.

Archeologists have discovered that the first examples of prosthetics came much earlier than many people might expect. As medical record-keeping became more common, the history of advanced prosthetics has been easier to trace.

Earliest Known Examples

Technically, the creation of artificial limbs may go back into prehistory, given the Egyptian tradition of creating limbs for mummified corpses who were missing body parts, so that the departed would appear “whole” in the afterlife. But verifying the earliest prosthetics used by living people has been harder to pinpoint.

The earliest discovery so far also centers in Egypt, and dates back 3,000 years. Archaeologists unearthed the remains of a high-born woman who was found with a wooden prosthetic toe attached to her foot, via a leather strap. Examination of the prosthetic found that it had been worn away in spots, showing that it must have been used in her daily life, as opposed to added for burial.

Another early Egyptian toe prosthesis, apparently made a few hundred years later, was constructed of glue, plaster and linen, also known as papier-mâché. Experiments on both the wooden and papier-mâché toes, which were conducted by modern-day volunteers missing a toe, found that the papier-mâché artificial toe may have given the wearer a bit more function.

Interestingly, the sandals found with both of the mummified amputees appeared to have been created with the prosthetic in mind, making them potentially among the earliest known orthotics!

Also in the B.C. era, the Roman general Marcus Sergius was the first known wearer of an actual limb. After losing a hand in battle around 200 B.C., the general received an iron one which he was able to use in future wars. It even enabled him to grasp a shield.

Later Strides  

Innovations in prosthetics lagged for centuries, until the early 1500s. During that era, the French surgeon Ambroise Paré began to fashion prosthetics that moved, thus mimicking the ways that legs and hands bend and swivel.

Later, the terrible injuries suffered by soldiers in the American Civil War required record numbers of amputations. One of them, a confederate soldier named James Hanger, went on to create a prosthetic leg with hinges in the knee and ankle. Likewise, just after WWII’s record number of amputations, the innovation of the suction sock emerged.

Learn More About Modern Advanced Prosthetics Arkansas

The 21st century has seen exciting innovations in terms of 3D printing, building limbs with carbon fiber, and the art of biometrics. When it comes to knowledge related to prosthetic limbs in Arkansas, Horton’s Orthotics & Prosthetics is committed to staying on top of the latest innovations.

To learn more about the latest technology in the world of prosthetics and orthotics, talk to our friendly, professional team. Contact us by calling 501-683-8889.