Jennifer Van Horn: Problematic Prostheses

We might imagine that the first time prosthetic legs grabbed the American public’s attention was during the Civil War. But in fact, the American Revolution was the first armed conflict when controversy swirled around men’s amputated limbs. The number of amputees rose dramatically in the conflict, since amputation was the primary medical procedure used to save soldiers whose bones had been shattered by cannon and musket balls. Wooden legs were the predominant form of artificial limb in the eighteenth century (the Americans’ wounded British foes also donned them). However, only one lower limb prosthesis is known to survive from early America. It belonged to American statesman Gouverneur Morris and is now in the collection of the New-York Historical Society. Continue Reading Jennifer Van Horn: Problematic Prostheses