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Lower limb prostheses, Roehampton, England, 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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Glossary: artificial leg

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

Glossary: prosthetics (functional aids)

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