Every year, more than 185,000 amputations occur in the United States, and this number is expected to double by 2050.  Diabetes and vascular disease are currently the leading causes for needing amputation.  The loss of a limb is always a traumatic experience for the victim, but it is hoped that with the help of prosthetic limbs, they can continue to live a normal life.  New advancements in prosthesis are constantly being developed, and the difference between real and artificial limbs is gradually reduced.  Hopefully, one day the technology will advance to the point where all the amputees can be comfortably and affordably accommodated.

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History of Prosthetics

The first functioning prosthetic limb was the Anglesey Leg designed by James Potts in 1800.  It consisted simply of a wooden shaft, a steel joint, and a foot connected by cords to the knee.  The Anglesey Leg was simple, and the cord connecting the knee and foot synchronizes the flexion of both.  The design was eventually brought to the United States in 1839 and renamed the American Leg.


Over time, the designs become more developed, but it was not until after 1945 that the prosthetics field really took off.  During World War II, many soldiers suffered grievous injuries and had to undergo amputations.  After the war ended, the need for prosthesis increased and the Artificial Limb Program was created to answer the problem, and significant scientific advances began.