Rethinking Healthcare

A look at prosthetics through the centuries

Posting in Science

The London Science Museum has images of thousands of medical objects that span 3,000 years of history: from a female mummy's prosthetic toe to a pair of gas-powered arms for a 12-year old boy.

From an Egyptian prosthetic toe found on a female mummy in a tomb near Luxor to a metal arm through to have belonged to a German Knight who lost the limb in a battle in 1503… you can see where the high-tech prosthetics we have now come from.

After combing through the London Science Museum’s archive of 3,000 years worth of medical devices, BBC News put together a slideshow of prosthetics from 950 BC to the middle of last century.

While Indian texts from 1,400 BC talk about an iron leg, that Egyptian toe is the earliest tangible piece of archeological evidence.

Some other treasures include forks (above) and hammers that fit into replacement arms and a prosthetic foot that laces around the lower leg – like a boot! – that can be made in under an hour. Pictured here, an artificial left arm from Europe, dating back to 1850-1920.

The BBC slideshow is available at their health site. And you can find even more details on 4,000 medical objects from the Science Museum’s site.

[Via Discover Magazine]

Image: Science Museum

Janet Fang

Contributing Editor

Janet Fang has written for Nature, Discover and the Point Reyes Light. She is currently a lab technician at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. She holds degrees from the University of California, Berkeley and Columbia University. She is based in New York. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure