Prosthetic technology has been around for awhile now. In fact, Caulfield Hospital located in Mebourne, Australia has been treating amputee veterans since 1916 and to this day have a display of veteran prostheses dating back to over a 100 years!
In that display, you are able to see the drastic change in technology, from materials used to the over all shape and style, it is unbelievable how quickly prosthetic technology advanced after World War I.
How War Impacted the Prosthetic Industry
During the early stages of prosthesis, orthotic and prosthetic specialists would often use materials such as a tree stump and leather straps to replace a veteran’s limb. Although this did the job for quite some time, it was not the ideal method and veterans demanded for a better solution.
To meet the needs and to better treat veterans, big advancements began to happen, especially during World War II. Many doctors credit the war as being one of the biggest reasons advancements took place so quickly.
“Essentially after World War II, the American Orthotic and Prosthetic Association formed because of the drive from amputees to upgrade components. That’s when the initial impact in innovation happened. Since then it’s taken [later] wars to boost the prosthesis to the next level,” says Jim Lavranos, senior clinician at the Caulfield prosthetic ward.
By the 1950s, huge progression was made within the industries of: amputation surgery, prosthesis, and muscle transplant technology. Ultimately leading to a large international investment in biomechanics thanks to the introduction of the hinged knee during the 1960s.
Prosthetic Limbs in Modern Times
Advancements still continue to be made within the prosthetic world, however, not as quickly and drastically as the main functionality has already been established. The main advancements now focus on aesthetics and creating prosthesis which move and look almost identical to real limbs.
The mindset of amputees have also changed a lot over time. Modern day amputees adjust and thrive almost instantly when making the switch from limb to prosthetic. “The amputee is so at ease with their prosthesis that it becomes part of their physical and personal identity,” says Dr. Lavranos.
Now, this doesn’t mean that amputees today do not face struggle. The struggles are different from those who may have lost a limb during war and with the progression made through technology, patients today really benefit from the improvements made over a 100 years ago.
Our patients are able to get back to their regular day to day schedule and hobbies thanks to advancements made during war and demands made by veterans.