The Evolution of Modern Prosthetic Devices

Posted on: December 22nd, 2014 by JPO Blogger
The technology of prosthetics and orthotics has come a long way since their creation.

The technology of prosthetics and orthotics has come a long way since their creation.

The change from the first prosthetic devices in ancient Egypt to the computerized devices we use today has not been an easy one. The long and winding road to the technology of today began around 1500 B.C. and has been evolving drastically ever since. There have been many enhancements from the first “peg” legs to the individualized fittings of today’s O&P devices.

The Egyptians were really the first to use any kind of prosthetic technology. Their rudimentary limbs were made of fiber and were created for a sense of “wholeness” more than actual function.

The first major advancements occurred in the mid to late 1500s thanks to the French Army barber/surgeon Ambroise Paré, the father of modern amputation surgery and prosthetic design. Paré introduced modern amputation procedures and made prosthetic devices for upper and lower extremity amputees. We can also thank Paré for the adjustable harness, knee lock control and other engineering features that are used in today’s devices.

During the U.S. Civil War, the number of amputations rose drastically. This forced more Americans to enter the field of prosthetics. During the Civil War, Confederate soldier James Hanger received one of the first amputations of the war. He received a solid wood prosthetic leg but made improvements such as better hinging and flexing abilities. The Civil War era contributed many refinements in the mechanism and materials used for prosthetic devices at the time.

Unlike the Civil War, World War I didn’t bring much advancement in the field. However, the Surgeon General of the Army saw importance in discussing technology and the development of prosthetic devices. This led to the formation of the American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association.

Following World War II, veterans were dissatisfied with the lack of technology in their equipment and demanded improvements. In response, the U.S. government made a deal with the military companies to improve the function of prosthetics rather than that of weapons. This agreement paved the way to the development of modern prosthetic devices.

Devices today are much lighter and customized to each individual patient. At JP&O, we work with each individual to find the perfect fit and product to fulfill their needs. The dawn of microprocessors, computer chips, and robotics in the devices today is designed to return users to the lifestyle that they were accustomed to rather than give basic functionality. Prosthetic devices are now able to mimic the function of a natural limb more than ever before.

JP&O uses the latest technology available to help each person reach their own functional goals. Technology has come a long ways since the 1500s and we strive to keep up with all advancements and possibilities in the world of O&P.

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