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Artificial right leg, Paris, France, 1946

The knee of this prosthetic leg locks when the heel strikes the ground and will only bend when there is pressure on the toes. This was an attempt to mimic the natural action of a person walking. The leg was made for a patient who had his right leg amputated above the knee as a result of service during the Second World War. Juenin Hanger, who invented and made this metal and leather prosthetic leg, named it ‘Stabilax’. A date, “13-5-46”, is punched into the thigh, suggesting that his invention was post-Second World War. The large numbers of amputations during wartime usually leads to new developments in prostheses.

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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.