The Limbs Of War


Hunter Oatman-Stanford investigates our relationship to prosthetic limbs:

“You hate to think that war is what drives technology, but it does,” says Kevin Carroll, the Vice President of Prosthetics for Hanger, a major artificial-limb producer founded just after the Civil War. Historically, the impulse to create functional replacement limbs has grown in parallel with the number of living amputees, whose ranks ballooned following periods of military conflict, especially the American Civil War and World War I.

However, the technology being developed today won't only benefit war veterans:

“It reminds me of NASCAR,” Carroll says. “You see those guys racing around the track at 200 miles an hour, and in the not-too-far-away future, the technologies in their cars will be in our regular cars. It’s the same way with prosthetics, with these high-performance feet that these young men and women are pushing to the limits. Grandma may very well be walking across the floor on them next year.”

(Photo from the Otis Historical Archives National Museum of Health and Medicine on Flickr)