Separating the surgical and commercial
Space, prosthetics and the First World War
in Rethinking modern prostheses in Anglo-American commodity cultures, 1820–1939
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The First World War witnessed an unprecedented scale of amputation. Traditionally, it has been argued that design and innovation were a direct result of the numbers of prostheses required to re-embody the many thousands of amputees from the war. This chapter argues that innovations in artificial limbs were well-established in the nineteenth century. Furthermore, there were a number of reputable companies that maintained a good trade in artificial limbs. The surgical profession and the commercial arena, while aware of each other, operated separately in two spheres. The First World War physically narrowed this division, relocating the limb fitter and the surgeon in close proximity in specialist hospitals established for amputees. Many manufacturers, including some from overseas, were required to provide the amputee servicemen with limbs, yet the relationship between the two professions was not improved. Nevertheless, the specialist hospitals staffed with experts in surgical technique and artificial limb fitting benefitted a number of patients. Focusing on Queen Mary Roehampton Hospital, this chapter explores the relationship between physical spaces and professionals, and the impact that it has on medical care in the First World War.

Editor: Claire L. Jones


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