Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The Bath Chair vs. An Artificial Leg

"Next to the loss of life, the sacrifice of a limb is the greatest sacrifice that a man can make for his country."
-The Times, 1920

In class, I did my presentation on medical advancements during the war, but I never looked into the area of prosthetic limbs simply because there were so many other advancements to discuss. I thought it would be interesting to do a bit of research on artificial limbs, since Curzon chooses to use his Bath chair as an alternative method of getting around after trying out six different prosthetic devices. Curzon's disability was not a rare one, as more than 41,000 British military men lost a limb because of the war. Unfortunately, the overwhelming number of these types injuries was too much for the small cottage-industry of making limbs. Eventually, they were able to be manufactured more readily, but people were not always adequately instructed when it came to using their new limbs effectively. Also, the devices were often very heavy, and caused physical discomfort. After the war, artificial limbs were further developed and became lighter and easier to wear, and classes were given to train people how to use their new limbs. Apparently Curzon never really learned how to easily get around while wearing his prosthesis, and he uses his Bath chair because it is easier to "acknowledge one's friends" (3). I do not think that this is the only reason because Curzon is not a man who makes his choices based on the easiest available solution. The text states that he "clings to the habit of the old-fashioned Bath chair" (3), which was a popular device in the 1830's. I think that this quotation clearly shows his disdain for new technology, which we see in the rest of the text, as well as his stubbornness for doing everything in a traditional manner. For further information on prosthetic limbs and other medical advancements, go to this site, or if you are interested in hearing a veteran's personal experience with his prosthetic limb, click here.


Blogger alison said...

You may be interested to hear theat my father, born in 1907, enjoyed an elementary education at school in St Albans, Herts., and one of the memories he passed on was of making wooden crutches and artificial legs for injured ex-servicemen of the Great War. He said the boys thought it hard work but a "privilege" to be able to make these prostheses.

Monday, August 04, 2008 2:11:00 PM  

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