A pair of CO2 gas-powered artificial arms for a young child, 1963.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Pair of artificial arms for a very young child born with a virtual absence of upper limbs due to the effects of the drug thalidomide. The prosthesis, made by Steeper, has plastic arms with simple spade-like hands, known as 'patter-cake' hands. The unit contains a small number of valves which can be activated by movements of the upper body. Forward bending of the trunk opens the rear valve and brings the hands together and the reverse movement causes the front valve to operate and the hands to part. Limbs such as these were worn for short training periods each day until the child could progress to more sophisticated prostheses. Made at the Limb Fitting Centre at Queen Mary's Hospital, London.