Lower limb prostheses for child

1966 in Roehampton
Hanger Orthopaedic Group, Inc

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A pair of lower limb prostheses for a Thalidomide affected child who was born with complete absence of upper limbs (amelia) and phocomelic lower limbs (absent femora, absent tibiae. Fibulae and feet present with additional toes). Blocked leather sockets, embracing both hips and buttocks, open ended to allow the natural feet to hang free. Well padded rigid pelvic bands. Non-jointed dural side struts to wooden feet with imitation shoe covering. Soles are completely flat to aid balance. Note the valve housings on both sockets, these were positioned to permit the natural toes to control valves which operated CO2 wrist rotation units and terminal devices on her upper limb prostheses. A CO2 gas cylinder is located in the left prosthesis. Made by Hanger in 1966.

Being born without upper limbs is a condition called ‘amelia’. ‘Phocomelic’ lower limbs means absent leg bones but feet attached to the body, in this case with additional toes. This pair of lower limb prostheses was for a child born with these conditions. Thalidomide caused these conditions. The drug was given to pregnant women in the late 1950s and early 1960s to ease morning sickness and assist sleep. It caused thousands of serious birth defects. Babies were born with under-developed or missing limbs.

The prosthesis consists of leather sockets embracing both hips and buttocks. These are open-ended to allow the natural feet to hang free. It also allows them to control valves which operate CO2-powered wrist rotation units and devices on the upper limb prostheses. A CO2 gas cylinder is located in the left prosthesis. The wooden feet have imitation shoe covering. The soles are flat to aid balance.

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Science Museum: Medicine: The Wellcome Galleries

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Object Number:
leather, metal and plastic
artificial leg
  • furnishing and equipment
  • tools & equipment
  • prosthesis
  • artificial limb
Richmond Twickenham and Roehampton Healthcare NHS Trust

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