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fadeaccompli
06-29-2010, 08:19 PM
I'm looking for information on low-tech (think Civil War era, roughly) prosthetic limbs: not quite the archetypal pirate's peg leg, but something much nearer that than modern prosthetics with plastics and internal mechanisms.

What I'm having trouble finding is information on what it was like to actually use those sorts of prosthetics: how much pain/difficulty in motion/side-effects would come of having one attached below the knee, for example. Any idea on where I should look for this kind of data? My Google fu in this area is weak.

Maryn
06-29-2010, 08:34 PM
Is there a medical museum in Austin or within a half-day's drive? I've seen prostheses from this era at such museums, but I don't remember them very well at all.

They were sturdy wood, shaped like the missing limb, with only crudely-carved feet, so a shoe or boot could be put on. The attachments were leather straps and lacings. I'm sorry, I don't remember if there was any flexion at ankle or knee.

I don't think it would be out of line to email the PR department of several medical museums asking for guidance to make your work of fiction accurate. IIRC, Walter Reed is a big one, and there's one in Philadelphia, Cleveland, maybe New York, and no doubt other places as well. (Don't contact the Mutter Museum; I've been there recently enough to know they don't have this.)

Maryn, hoping this helps a little

Edit: A few links to get you started.

The National Museum of Health and Medicine (http://nmhm.washingtondc.museum/), the International Museum of Surgical Science (https://www.imss.org/) ("Become a patient in 1860!"), the Medical Museums Association (http://www.case.edu/affil/MeMA/memahome.htm), and the easy one, Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category%3AMedical_museums).

fadeaccompli
07-01-2010, 06:28 AM
Maryn, that's very helpful. Thank you!

Tsu Dho Nimh
07-01-2010, 07:51 AM
Look up the work of Ambrois Pare, a French army surgeon of the 1500s. He was making marvelous prosthetics, some of metal, some wood and leather.

fadeaccompli
07-01-2010, 08:17 PM
Look up the work of Ambrois Pare, a French army surgeon of the 1500s. He was making marvelous prosthetics, some of metal, some wood and leather.

Man. I'm getting lots of very promising summaries of his work, but nothing that'll give me detail. Thanks for the lead, though! That'll make it easier for me to track down useful information.

Tsu Dho Nimh
07-02-2010, 09:03 AM
Man. I'm getting lots of very promising summaries of his work, but nothing that'll give me detail.

Try Google Books ... they have some of his stuff in the original bad French, but with pictures.

http://books.google.com/books?id=nh0x_03RfgwC&pg=PA7&dq=%22prosthetic+leg%22&hl=en&ei=zXItTLe8DoT58Ab79LXwAg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=5&ved=0CEoQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q&f=false has a promising start about the history of prosthetics,

Also try the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica (1911.org?)

GeorgeK
07-02-2010, 10:07 PM
There were a few people here and there, but in America during the Civil War the general state of surgery was so unclean and rife with infection that a lot of the amputees gave up on the concept of prosthetics. Doing an amputation well in terms of ultimately having a healed wound that can handle a prosthetic is a skill in itself. Most of the American surgeons were placing speed above all else at that time and amputees hobbling around on poorly constructed crutches begging was a common sight. I can't quite remember the name of the book, but try "Battlefield Medicine of the Civil War."