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Artificial hand and forearm, 1601-1700

The jointed thumb and fingers of this large artificial hand and forearm are hollow and bend at the knuckle. This possibly was to allow a forward bending motion, much like a waving gesture. The arm once contained an internal mechanical structure allowing the fingers basic movement. It was probably designed for a man and dates from the 1600s. Most limbs were amputated in this era due to war injuries or accidents. French military surgeon Ambroise Paré (1510-90) produced many books on surgery in the 16th century. He described new operations and treatments. He gained experience as a private surgeon to generals in the French Army. In his writings he described artificial substitutes he devised to replace amputated limbs. Some were simple. Others were elaborate highly-mechanised devices that simulated the natural movement and function of the limb.

Object number:

A69335

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Glossary:

Glossary: orthopaedics

The branch of medicine concerned with the preservation and restoration of the muscular and skeletal systems in the body.

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 hand

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