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View Full Version : Double amputee mobility - early Tudor period



PeteMC
03-13-2017, 06:49 PM
Hi, hope someone can help with this - I've got a character who's a double amputee (both legs off below or at the knee, can be either) as a result of a war injury and I need to know how if at all he can get around.

From what I can see the wheelchair didn't exist until the very late 16th century, and then only because it was invented for the Spanish king so that's out. Is any sort of crutch system possible, maybe with two "peg legs", or is my guy going to have to be pushed around in a handcart by a friend?

Setting is roughly early Tudor but it's secondary world fantasy so I've got some wiggle room with details, but no magic healing or anything like that.

Thanks in advance as always!

Maryn
03-13-2017, 07:18 PM
If it's fantasy, I'd invent the wheelchair unless he's so poor or so unliked that nobody wants to help him.

When I was a teenager, I worked at a discount store where I saw a family more than once who'd brought their developmentally disabled son with them to shop. They'd made a crude wheelchair from an ordinary wooden chair with a high back. Someone had made a simple--and ugly, non-matching and unfinished--wooden extension to the sides of the seat to allow prefab wheels to be attached. Rigid footrests to keep his feet off the floor were added to the front, and handles to push were added to the seatback. There was a rope serving as a seatbelt and another at his chest.

Other than using prefab wheels, might not some local carpenter or handyman type modify a chair to allow your character some similar device? Depending on who he is, it could be quite crude, with wood scrap and ugly cart wheels, or rather elegant.

I found an image of a wheelchair something like the one they'd made: http://www.prestonantiquecentre.co.uk/shop_images/1700-Homemade-wheelchair.jpg

And some other old-time ones, as a springboard for your imagination:
https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/e8/cc/e7/e8cce7ed35f79ee01037c34d09ae232a.jpg
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/27866091418299411/
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/27866091418299399/
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/27866091417173174/

It might be good character development for your guy to start with a cart and a small draft animal, which he finds degrading, so he seeks inventors and creative types to come up with a chair in which he can be pushed along by a servant, and later, a chair he can propel himself--if that sort of thing fits at all with your master plan.

Maryn, who hasn't thought of that family in a long time

PeteMC
03-13-2017, 07:38 PM
Something like that could work once someone takes pity on him - thanks! This guy's dirt-poor as it stands, basically a homeless verteran footsoldier turfed out of the conscript army once he wasn't any use any more.

CWatts
03-13-2017, 08:01 PM
When I was a teenager, I worked at a discount store where I saw a family more than once who'd brought their developmentally disabled son with them to shop. They'd made a crude wheelchair from an ordinary wooden chair with a high back. Someone had made a simple--and ugly, non-matching and unfinished--wooden extension to the sides of the seat to allow prefab wheels to be attached. Rigid footrests to keep his feet off the floor were added to the front, and handles to push were added to the seatback. There was a rope serving as a seatbelt and another at his chest.


Maryn, that story is heartbreaking...


Something like that could work once someone takes pity on him - thanks! This guy's dirt-poor as it stands, basically a homeless verteran footsoldier turfed out of the conscript army once he wasn't any use any more.

If he still has his knees, could he make kneepads and walk on them? That would make him about dwarf height. I'm picturing a modified pair of boots, worn backwards, with the tops maybe hooking to his belt like chaps.

CameronJohnston
03-13-2017, 08:03 PM
China had wheelchairs way before that. Given his poverty I'd just go with a very basic wheeled cart, something like what Eddie Murphy's character in Trading Places uses.

Check these out as well:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4071498/

PeteMC
03-13-2017, 09:10 PM
Ah the Chinese had everything first, but I don't have a China equivalent (I have a faux India, but that probably doesn't help). Cheers for the link, some great pictures in there.

CWatts - I honestly don't know, could you walk on stumps left from a Tudor-age amputation? Anyone know?

EDIT: Cameron's link says "the introduction of flaps in amputations is attributed to Yonge in 1679. Prior to this, a guillotine procedure was the only method of removing part of a leg below the knee. Even if the wound healed, the stump was usually not fit for weight-bearing and housing a prosthesis." so I'm guessing not.

Ah, the good old days, huh?

stephenf
03-13-2017, 09:19 PM
Hi
Wheelbarrows and pushed carts have been around since medieval times . Some were the equivalent of a small van,to take stuff to market . He would need someone to push it , but it is a possible form of transport that would actuly exist ,at the time .

PeteMC
03-13-2017, 09:55 PM
Thanks Stephen, yeah I think some sort of push cart is the way I'm going. This guy's life isn't supposed to be easy!

frimble3
03-13-2017, 09:56 PM
How much moving around is your character doing, and where? For an urban setting and his apparent poverty level, I'd go with the little wheeled platform a la Eddie Murphy in 'Trading Spaces' (I've seen historic photos of actual people using the same). It would give him mobility and independence, as he could propel himself along by hand, using gloves or sticks (used like oars) on the ground, rather than waiting for someone to push him.
If he's going out on unpaved ground, or long distances, then a cart or wheeled chair might be of more practical use. Either a market barrow or a chair, on wheels. With either someone to push, or an animal to pull. (Animal - a poor man wouldn't need a pony or horse - although he could rent one for occasional use. A goat or sheep or big dog can also be trained for use as a light draft animal.)

King Neptune
03-13-2017, 10:04 PM
This is still too late for you.

"It is uncertain as to what can be considered the first wheelchair, or who invented it. The first known dedicated wheelchair (invented in 1595 and called an invalids chair) was made for Phillip II of Spain by an unknown inventor. In 1655, Stephen Farfler, a paraplegic watchmaker, built a self-propelling chair on a three wheel chassis."
https://www.thoughtco.com/history-of-the-wheelchair-1992670

PeteMC
03-13-2017, 10:47 PM
The setting is all urban - the platform thing could work, but I think I'm going with a sort of handbarrow pushed by his mate for now. Thanks for the help, everyone!

Maryn
03-13-2017, 11:04 PM
Thank you for one of the more interesting questions to surface.

Cindyt
03-13-2017, 11:28 PM
Yeah, a cart pulled by a goat. He might find the goat somewhere and build the cart from castoffs. Also, I saw a docu on Netflix about a guy who didn't have legs. He walked on his hands and used a skateboard (he straddled it and used gloved hands to move it.) Your character could use a plank with wheels. Anybody who survived a double amputation in those days has the salt to come up with something.