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Artifcial left arm, United States, 1915

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This artificial arm for an above-elbow amputee was made to a pre-First World War design developed by the Carnes Artificial Limb Company of Kansas. Perhaps its most ingenious feature is that when the elbow is bent the wrist turns in a clockwise direction – very helpful when directing, say, food toward the mouth. When the elbow is straightened the wrist returns to its original position. After their experience dealing with limb amputations during the American Civil War (1861-1865), American limb makers were better equipped than the British to deal with the demand for limbs created by the First World War. Several manufacturers set up workshops at Queen Mary’s Hospital in Roehampton, the main centre for limb-fitting. However, Carnes initially stayed in America and simply exported limbs made to measurements that were sent from across the Atlantic. This type of prosthetic limb was expensive and became known as the ‘officer’s arm’ as it tended to be officers who bought them. Officers received a fixed allowance to spend on a limb, unlike the rank and file soldiers who were simply issued with one. It is shown with a similar example (1999-529).

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Glossary: prostheses

Artificial body parts, or materials inserted into tissue for functional, cosmetic, or therapeutic effect. Prostheses can be functional (artificial arms and legs), or cosmetic (artificial eye).

Glossary: artificial arm

No description.