Healing the war-disabled
The re-orientation of German orthopaedics
in Recycling the disabled
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Chapter one begins with an examination of the social and medical programs for disabled adults in Imperial Germany and outlines how the introduction of social insurance in the 1880s divided Germany’s disabled population. Next, it traces how this division fostered the development of different—and sometimes competing—medical professionals for each disabled population: worker, accident victim, or child. Next, the chapter outlines how the war changed this by offering orthopaedists an opportunity to prove their usefulness to the war-time state. It continues with an examination of the treatment innovations developed in the first two years of the war—such as War Orthopaedics—while also pointing out how orthopaedists edged out their medical competitors. In demonstrating their medical expertise, orthopaedists carved out their own specialized sphere of medicine and distanced themselves from their competitors. These treatment innovations stemmed not just from a desire to heal the soldier, but also by a desire to protect the state’s financial interests. By returning the disabled soldier to work, orthopaedists were hoping to prevent the national welfare systems from becoming over-burdened while also making themselves invaluable to the war-time state.

Recycling the disabled

Army, Medicine, and Modernity in WWI Germany

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