The first prostheses were Egyptian

Photo: AFP

France Media Agency


Two false toes, one of which is on an Egyptian mummy, may be the first true artificial limb to exist, according to scientists who asked volunteers to verify the correct functioning of replicas of these rare objects.

A study published Monday by the British Medical Journal indicates that these two Egyptian prostheses dating back to more than 600 BC bore traces of use, signs that they were worn and not just used to restore the physical integrity of the mummies. The scalpel.

Jacqueline Finch (of the Biomedical Center for Egyptology at the University of Manchester in Great Britain) shows that a wooden and leather prosthesis at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo and another finger on display at the British Museum in London actually helped their patients. Walks.

“The big toe should hold about 40% of the body weight,” she says, adding that it also plays an important role in pushing forward.

Dr. Finch recruited two volunteers with amputations of their big right toe to test the use of replicas of these two prostheses: one with two hinged parts of wood and the third probably leather, and the other made of cardboard, which is a type of sticky papier-mâché. And covered with colored plaster. This second prosthesis is called the “Graveyard Chester’s big toe” in honor of the complex that allowed the British Museum to acquire it in 1881.

“The behavior of the ancient Egyptian false toes was very good,” said Ms. Finch, who said the volunteers wore Egyptian shoes while taking the tests.

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One volunteer was able to walk well with both cardboard prostheses and wooden prostheses, and both volunteers rated the wooden prosthesis design as “particularly comfortable,” according to the study.

Their approach can be analyzed using cameras and pressure sensors placed on their path.

Dr. Finch concludes, “My results indicate that these two shapes were able to act as a substitute for the missing finger and that they could then be considered artificial limbs.”

Therefore, the first steps in this branch of medicine must be attributed to the ancient Egyptians. The science of prosthetics, according to Finch, began to emerge in the Nile Valley, several centuries before the creation of a prosthetic leg dating back to around 300 BC, found in a rich Roman tomb in Santa Maria de Capua and was until then considered the oldest known functional prosthesis.

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