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Pair of non-articulated metal legs for a male Thalidomide affected teenager

These artificial legs were created for a teenager with short arms and legs. This condition is called phocomelia. It was due to the effects of Thalidomide. This drug was given to pregnant women in the late 1950s and early 1960s to ease morning sickness. It caused thousands of serious birth defects, world-wide. Babies were born with under-developed or missing limbs. The prosthesis consists of non-articulating legs attached to the body by rigid pelvic bands. The teenager used his existing hands and legs to move the prosthesis. His legs were placed within the hollow ‘thighs’. He pulled on the material handles attached to the knee to move each leg forward. The wooden feet have a leather imitation shoe covering. The flat soles aid stability. Artificial limb manufacturer Hanger made these metal legs in 1975.

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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 leg

A device, either external or implanted, that substitutes for or supplements a missing or defective part of the body.

Glossary: thalidomide

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