The Evolution of Prosthetics

Nick Haslam

950 B.C. Ancient Egypt

A mummified woman was found with the earliest known prosthetic; a big toe. The toe was made of wood an attached to the foot with leather linings and straps. it is speculated that the prosthetic was used to help with the woman's balance, but others believe that the prosthetic was purely for looks as indicated by the carved toenail on the prosthetic.
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Approximately 218 B.C. Ancient Rome.

War was fought using swords, axes, hammers, and other crushing weapons so at this time it was very common for soldiers to lose arms. Despite losing arms, some returned to battle using wood and metal prosthetic arms and hands designed to hold their shields.
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16th century France

Ambroise Pare invented prosthetic legs with locking knees and prosthetic hands with hinges to allow more natural movement of joints and more natural use of the prosthetic limbs. He also included a new leather cuff design to improve the attachment of prosthetics.
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1696, Pieter Verduyn

Verduyn created a prosthetic for the leg which included a non-locking joint. This was the first version of modern designs which utilize non-locking joints to better imitate the movement of the leg during movement to create a more natural gait.
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1800 London

James Potts created a prosthetic leg with a steel knee joint and a dynamic foot controlled by catgut tendons running from the knee to the ankle. This created movement in the foot while walking which helped to remove more of the limp caused by a prosthetic.
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Gaseous anesthesia and better sterilization made their way into the market. This allowed doctors to increase surgery time and precision when amputating limbs. With this increase in time doctors could create a stump more suitable for a prosthetic which contributed to better pain control.

1843, Sir James Syme

Syme developed a new method of ankle/foot amputation. Before this if a person had an injury which warranted amputation on their lower leg, the only option was to amputate at or above the knee. This advancement gave hope to those who needed their foot amputated. The possibility of walking again with a prosthetic foot versus a leg was much greater.

1857 William Selvo

Selvo patented a prosthetic arm which used leather straps attached to the functional arm to create movement in the prosthetic hand. The strap, attached to hinged fingers, utilized certain movements of the other shoulder to open and close the hand.
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1863 New York

Dubois Parmelee created a prosthesis with a suction socket. This was a great advancement in the prosthetic industry as it was a much more efficient and practical means of attaching a prosthetic to the stub. It also included a polycentric knee, which meant there would be more stable mobility in the knee.
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2000's Bionic Limbs

Recent advancements in microchip technology have led to major advancements in the prosthetic industry. These advancements have mostly been occurring in prosthetic arms as researchers work to create a functional hand. Microchips attached to certain muscles at the stump pick up and translate slight muscle movements into electrical signals which are sent to the different parts of the wrist or hand and result in movement. These advancements are making a more normal life possible for amputees.
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Kwon, Amos, and Ben Bowers. "The Evolution of Prosthetics Design." Gear Patrol. Gear Patrol, 2012. Web. 21 Mar. 2016.

Norton, Kim K. "A Brief History of Prosthetics." Amputee Coalition. Amputee Coalition, Nov.-Dec. 2007. Web. 21 Mar. 2016.

Brachmann, Steve. "The Evolution of Prosthetic Devices: A Patent History - | Patents & Patent Law." IPWatchdogcom Patents Patent Law The Evolution of Prosthetic Devices A Patent History Comments. IPWatchDog, 01 Dec. 2014. Web. 21 Mar. 2016.