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Artificial leg with extensive home repairs, England, 1914-1918

This fibre leg, known as a pylon, was originally issued to a First World War soldier who had lost his leg. It was intended to be a temporary limb for two weeks, to get him used to his new situation until a more permanent and jointed replacement could be made. Presumably he found it comfortable, as the wearer either refused the new limb or never went back to claim it, preferring instead this temporary prosthesis. Over the next forty years he wore the limb during his job as a roof thatcher and tiler and made extensive home repairs using materials such as cement and glue. When the man finally accepted a jointed prosthesis it had to be heavily weighted as he had become so used to his previous limb, which by that time weighed just over 13 kg.

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Glossary: prostheses

Artificial body parts, or materials inserted into tissue for functional, cosmetic, or therapeutic effect. Prostheses can be functional (artificial arms and legs), or cosmetic (artificial eye).

Glossary: artificial leg

A device, either external or implanted, that substitutes for or supplements a missing or defective part of the body.