Each major war seems to have been the stimulus not only for improvement of amputation surgical techniques but also for the development of improved prostheses.Toward the end of World War II, amputees in military hospitals in the United States began voicing their disappointment about the performance afforded by their artificial limbs.Committee on Artificial Limbs, National Research Council: Terminal Research Reports on Artificial Limbs (Covering the Period From April 1, 1945, Through June 30, 1947). At the same time design and development projects were being carried out at Northrop Aviation, Inc.; Cat-ranis, Inc.; the Army Prosthetics Research Laboratory (APRL); the U. Naval Hospital, Mare Island (which later became the Navy Prosthetics Research Laboratory, Oakland Naval Hospital); and a U. The Veterans Administrations laboratory in New York also performed evaluations primarily by means of mechanical and chemical testing projects; later this laboratory became part of the Veterans Administration Prosthetics Center (VAPC), which contributed heavily to development and evaluation projects established within the program.
With respect to surgery, Hippocrates described the use of ligatures, but this technique was lost during the Dark Ages.
It was reintroduced in 1529 by Ambroise Pare, a student and son-in-law of Syme, contributed greatly to the overall success of amputation surgery, as did the use of chloroform and ether about the same time.
At the end of the war when the OSRD was disbanded, the Office of the Surgeon General of the Army continued support that was later assumed by the Veterans Administration, which had also inherited the responsibility for the care of military amputees after discharge from the armed services.
For the first 2 years the NAS, through the Committee on Artificial Limbs (CAL), actually initiated and administered the program through subcontracts with several universities and industrial laboratories.
Artificial hands made of iron were used by knights in the 15th century.
The Alt-Ruppin hand, shown along with other hands from the 15th century in the Stibbert Museum, Florence, Italy, is a good example of the work of that age.Eberhart et al., Eberhart HD, Inman VT, Dec JB, et al: Fundamental Studies of Human Locomotion and Other Information Relating to the Design of Artificial Limbs, a Report to the National Research Council.Berkeley, Calif, Committee on Artificial Limbs, University of California, 1947.Although some progress was made early in the program by this approach, it soon became apparent that fundamental information on how human limbs function was needed before adequate design criteria could be formulated.To provide such information on lower-limb function, a project was established at the University of California, Berkeley, as a joint responsibility of the Engineering School in Berkeley and the Medical School in San Francisco.On June 30, 1947, the CAL was discharged, and the role of the NAS became an advisory one to the Veterans Administration, which contracted directly with various research groups.In 1947, the Veterans Administration also established its own testing and development laboratory in New York City.New York, International Society for Rehabilitation of the Disabled (Reprint of paper presented at the sessions of the World Commission on Research in Rehabilitation, Tenth World Congress of the International Society for Rehabilitation of the Disabled, Wiesbaden, Germany, September 1966).and others adopted and popularized these procedures in some areas.No doubt artificial limbs of some type, such as a forked stick, have been used since the beginning of mankind, but the earliest recorded use of a limb prosthesis is that of a Persian soldier, Hegesistratus, who was reported by Herodotus to have escaped about 484 B. from stocks by cutting off one of his feet and replacing it with a wooden one.The oldest known artificial limb in existence was a copper-and-wood leg unearthed at Capri, Italy, in 1858, which was supposedly made about 300 B. Unfortunately, it was destroyed during a bombing of London in World War II.