The History of the Prosthetic Hand

Prosthetics and artificial limbs are no new invention, as far back as ancient Egypt people had started using artificial limbs, and examples of ancient prosthetics have included an ancient Egyptian artificial toe and roman bronze teeth.

Artificial limbs are a mentioned by early writers and in stories of Greek and Roman soldiers.  In which they bravely loose an arm or a foot in a heroic battle, then to replace their limb with an iron arm or a wooden foot, however most ancient prosthetic arms could only function as a cosmetic replacement and were useless in every other way.

An early pioneer in ‘useful’ artificial hands was a German mercenary named Gottfried “Götz” von Berlichingen (1480-1562), who developed a hand with rudimentary series of gears and catches that allowed certain parts of the hand to move.

An Italian surgeon wrote of an amputee who possessed a prosthetic hand that allowed him to take off his hat, open his wallet and write his signature.

Another major leap forward came by Marcel Desoutter, 31 January 1894–13 April 1952, an early English aviator who lost his leg in a flying accident & Charles Desoutter, who developed the first aluminium prosthetic hands, this now, meant that an artificial limb could now be made of a lightweight material so the wearer could feel comfortable wearing the limb.

Since the 1960’s, prosthesis technology has advanced dramatic. With vast advancements in technology, prosthesis has improved, making positive lifestyle changes to amputees. Prosthetic hands that use hooks are still popular.

However, with advancements in microprocessor technology, there are bionic hands that closely resemble a fully functional human hand. Modern cosmetics that are so detailed, it is more difficult to distinguish whether the amputee has artificial flesh.

Although, the range of prosthetic hands is still limited, companies like RSL Steeper specialise in cutting-edge technology. The technological aspects of prosthesis look very positive for amputees.


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