Question from Jamie W.:
Hi Geek!! I have a medical invention question for you: I remember reading somewhere of solid prosthetic limbs made out of wood being used as far back as B.C. time. Is that true? And, can you tell me when one was invented that incorporated movement and acted more like a “real” limb?
In a very primitive form, prosthetic limbs have been in use since as far back as 500 B.C. The earliest written reference to a fake limb is from around 500 B.C. A prisoner escaped by cutting off his own foot and then attached a wooden replacement. The oldest proof of a prosthetic limb which dates from 300 B.C was found in Capri, Italy. In 1858, a copper and wooden leg was found.
Real advancements in prosthetics were not made until the early part of the 16th century. A French military doctor, Ambroise Paré invented a hinged mechanical hand and prosthetic legs that had locking knees and harness for attaching. Around 1690, Pieter Verduyn, a Dutch surgeon developed a leg prosthesis with specialized hinges and a cuff for attaching to the body. The features designed by these two man are still part of many modern prosthetics.