Three and Fifty Instruments of Chirurgery By Ambroise Paré
The world’s first bionic foot was manufactured by iWalk in 2011. It costs about US$70,000 and uses robotics to emulate the action of the foot, ankle, and calf. The U.S. military helped fund its development. Dozens have gone to wounded veterans.
- Double-amputee sprinter Oscar Pistorius, who competed on the South African team in the 2012 Olympic Games, runs on J-shaped carbon-fiber blades. Critics contend that the prostheses, the Flex-Foot Cheetahs, give him an unfair advantage. Some artificial limbs are almost indistinguishable from the real thing, featuring elements such as freckles, hair, tattoos, and the user’s own fingerprints. With the surgical transfer of residual nerves to chest muscles, known as targeted muscle reinnervation, a person needs only to think about moving a missing limb to lift the artificial one.
- In 484 BC, Herodotus wrote about a Persian soldier with a wooden foot. Archaeologists in Luxor, Egypt, unearthed a 3,000-year-old prosthetic toe made of wood and leather, attached to the mummified remains of a noblewoman. This is believed to be the oldest documented artificial body part.
- Pirates really did have wooden peg legs and iron hook hands. Until the U.S. Civil War, most artificial limbs were made of wood, iron, or steel. The Hook Man urban legend originated in the 1950s as a deterrent to would-be teenage parkers.
- The number of amputees in the United States is predicted to rise from more than 1.6 million today to 3.6 million by 2050. Most amputations are the result of disease, especially diabetes.
- About 6,000 people in Haiti lost a limb in the 2010 earthquake or soon after. The Rotary Foundation, Rotary clubs in several countries, and Grove Church in Virginia, USA, contributed nearly $600,000 to produce and distribute the Jaipur limb in Pignon. A typical artificial limb costs between $1,600 and $3,100; a Jaipur limb costs $40 and lasts for three to four years, or longer if worn with a shoe.
- Limb loss is a growing global concern, fueled by war, violence, disaster, and disease. The World Health Organization estimates that as many as 30 million people in Africa, Asia, and Latin America require prosthetic limbs or other devices, up from 24 million in 2006. According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, 1 in every 631 people in Afghanistan has lost a limb. In Angola, the number is 1 in 334. Most of the injuries were caused by land mines that remain buried across the country, a decade after the end of a long civil war.
- Salamanders, lobsters, and most bony fish can regenerate limbs. The flatworm can replace its head. As organisms evolve, their regenerative capacity declines, but scientists believe that human cells could contain the dormant ability to heal without scarring, or even to regrow a limb.