View Full Version : Prosthetic legs

08-21-2010, 04:03 AM
In my WIP a character loses his leg just above the knee. He gets a wood/leather prosthetic (the technology in their world is equal to 1860s-1880s Europe)

I was wondering how much it hampers your mobility. Is it possible to gain enough use of the prosthetic people won't realize you have one? I mean, I'd assume they would think you had an injury of some sort, but maybe not a missing leg.

Would my character still be able to do things like dance? Run? Climb ladders? His remaining leg is fine.

If there is anything specific he wouldn't be able to do, I'd like to be aware of that as well.

Thanks for your time.

08-21-2010, 11:40 AM
I#m not sure. I know a girl who has a prosthetic leg and although she can do lots of things, like ride horses etc, she does have alot of mobility problems. Running is completely out of the question for her. That said, I think it varies from person to person, you just have to look at the paralympics to see the range of activity that people with prosthetics can do.

08-21-2010, 12:36 PM
In India we have a celebrity Sudha Chandra . She dances with Jaipur feet and she is quite an actress.

08-21-2010, 01:48 PM
Above the knee will severely limit his ability to walk and run with that tech level. If it was below the knee it would be easier as he could still bend his knee. But with a plain wooden prosthetic he'll be forced to have an extreme limp.
Horse back riding is possible and the best way for him to get around as walking would be slow, awkward and most likely painful.
With that tech level if you want him to have more mobility make it below the knee. Than walking almost normally, careful running, and dancing is possible with wood and leather. But above the knee would make him doing all this almost impossible.

08-21-2010, 08:59 PM
What Domoviye said, look at Heather Mills, she had a prosthetic, and she did that ice skating show and stuff, so she's obviously very mobile.

08-21-2010, 09:18 PM
You can test this for yourself pretty easily. Prosthetics with joints did not exist in the time period you speak of. So stand normally, noting the exact position of your knee, ankle, and foot joints. This is what the best-made prostethics of the time did, mimic the shape of the missing limb when standing. The prosthetic could be dressed in sock and shoe and when you're motionless, might not be apparent.

But it's readily apparent when you move. Holding all those joints motionless, walk. Awkward, the way you have to either swing your leg outward or rise to the toes on your good leg, yes? Now hurry. The gait is even less natural when you speed it up. Falls are common. Okay, now really hurry--can you run? Nope. About the fastest you can go is a sort of skip on your surviving leg and swinging the fake one around fast.

Next, find steps. Can you go up? Which method, the swing-a-leg way or both feet on one step at a time, only the good leg doing the actual climbing? Thing about historical houses and the narrow staircases of all but the wealthy, while you're climbing those stairs.

Back on level floor, bring to mind a great waltz. Circle a real or imagined partner with your arms. Check the basic box step (http://www.dancing4beginners.com/images/waltz-box-step.gif). Can you do it without bending knee, ankle, or foot?

Don't try the ladder this way. Dangerous.

Although modern prosthetics have made huge advances in recent years, as late as the 1980s it was readily apparent by both gait and limitations when a person wore an artificial leg above the knee.

Maryn, whose best friend in high school had such an amputation

Linda Adams
08-22-2010, 12:50 AM
I attended a conference where the keynote speaker was Josh Sundquist. If you haven't heard of him, he lost his leg at the hip when he was 9 and was in the Paralympics. He now has a book out and is doing speaking tours. There's a video here of one of his speeches (http://www.joshsundquist.com/speaking.html)--he is a very active speaker. During the one at our conference, he demonstrated a skiing fall in slow motion, and he also danced around.

Is it possible to gain enough use of the prosthetic people won't realize you have one? I mean, I'd assume they would think you had an injury of some sort, but maybe not a missing leg.

No, it's pretty obvious in the way the person walks. I used to work with a guy who had two prosthetic legs. He did get around pretty good, but you could tell it was him from a long ways off by the way he walked. One was, I believe, above the knee. The other was at the hip, and the leg itself did not bend. He sort of had a swinging walk for that leg--swung the leg outward to take a step. You could especially tell this leg was prosthetic when he sat--he did not bend, and the joint was visible through the pants.

Would my character still be able to do things like dance? Run? Climb ladders? His remaining leg is fine.

He could stand on chairs. He'd use his arms as support and swing himself on to the chair to look at equipment. I always thought he would fall, because I know I sure would have!

08-22-2010, 02:02 AM
I think the key here is: "the technology in their world is equal to 1860s-1880s Europe". My father has a prosthetic leg but today's technology is different (and way more advanced). Still, an above the knee amputation is more difficult than a below the knee amputation (as with my father) and mobility would vary, etc. How old is this character and what physical shape are they in prior to the amputation? That also plays a role...
hope this helps!

08-22-2010, 06:29 AM
Thank you so much everyone, this is really helpful.

He's in his mid 40s and is extremely fit. He's the captain of a unit of skirmish fighters who do a lot of maneuvering through mountainous terrain.

The amputation occurs after taking an arrow in the knee and it becoming infected while in a POW camp.

08-22-2010, 02:09 PM
Douglas Bader had two prostetics, both over the knee if I rememver correctly, and he flew planes etc during the war.