Advancements are being made not only in the aesthetics and general appearance of artificial limbs, but also in the functionality of the devices. Losing a limb is a difficult situation for a person to deal with. However, the advancements of prosthetic technology have made it much easier to grow accustomed to this new way of life.

Most members of the public either don’t come across many artificial limbs or don’t recognize one if they do. It can be easy to assume the prosthetics you were originally introduced to when you were younger are still being used today.

Older technology will always continue to be used for various reasons. So while you might be able to find older versions of artificial limbs, you are more likely to come across a device that will catch you by surprise with its sophistication and capabilities.

Let’s look a little deeper in how far prosthetics have come in recent years by examining their past.

Early Prosthetics

The earliest known example of a prosthetic dates back to ancient Egypt, probably somewhere between 710 and 950 B.C.E. A prosthetic big toe might not sound like a major accomplishment, but that’s because many of us don’t realize how important our big toe actually is. It’s responsible for carrying about 40% of our bodyweight as well as propelling us forward as we walk and run.

Modern prosthetic toes were created after extensive study into the natural gait of a person walking in order to ensure the toe feels natural. These early toes are surprisingly comfortable and useful.

Many early prosthetics were mostly intended to be decorative, but the ancient Egyptian toe serves a constructive purpose.

A prosthetic hand from the ancient Romans is also considered one of the most famous early prosthetics. This hand was worn by General Marcus Sergius and was made of iron. It allowed the general to hold his shield which gave him the ability to keep fighting.

Visit Bulow Orthotic & Prosthetic Solutions to learn more about artificial limbs in Nashville, TN today!


Prosthetic hands made from iron didn’t make many advancements until the early sixteenth century. Ambroise Paré was a French doctor that pushed the practices and devices used for both amputations and prosthetics forward. For instance, he proposed a hinged prosthetic hand and an artificial leg with a locking knee joint. These tactics continue to be utilized right up to current prosthetic technology.

The prosthetics themselves didn’t make many more advancements during this time, but the practices associated with them did. Amputation surgeries began being performed with the prosthetic in mind. This allowed them to shape the remaining appendage to better fit into the eventual artificial limb.

19th and 20th Century

The American Civil War created a large amount of amputees. This placed a greater importance on the artificial limb industry. The Hangar Limb is one of the most famous advancements to come of this time period. It was an artificial leg that included hinged joints at the ankle and knee. In fact, James Hangar’s company is still a leader in the artificial limb industry today.

1946 saw a great leap forward in artificial limb technology when researchers from the University of California – Berkeley introduced a suction socket to be used with lower limb prosthetics. This technology is still being used today.

Ysidro M. Martinez made a great impact on future iterations of artificial limbs by choosing instead to focus on ease of use as opposed to replicating the movement of natural limbs. His contribution in 1975 applied specifically to below-the-knee prosthetics. It afforded the wearer better control over their movements while also making it more comfortable.

Recent Advancements for Artificial Limbs

Artificial limbs might have gone a while without remarkable advancements in the past, but things have moved quickly over the last couple decades. The introduction of myoelectric technology has propelled the capabilities of artificial limbs forward. This technology makes use of the electric pulses that naturally move through our muscles to power the movement of artificial limbs.

Myoelectric capabilities and improved functionality of artificial limbs allow amputees to grasp and hold objects, walk and run with a natural gait, and enjoy activities they might not otherwise be able to perform.

Mechanical assistance helps assist these natural functions. Artificial limbs with hinged joints allowed the artificial limb to move in a more natural way, but it didn’t actually create the motion. Newer artificial limbs have the ability to assist the wearer perform physical functions and get back to the lives they had previously enjoyed.

Technology continues to move forward and provide new capabilities to amputees. Are you looking to learn more about artificial limbs in Nashville, TN? Visit Bulow Orthotic & Prosthetic Solutions to see what’s being made possible for those in need of an artificial limb.

Contact Bulow Orthotic & Prosthetic Solutions today!